Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Why I Make Homemade Baby Food | Starting Solids V4

After flopping on the couch, exhausted from a day with the kids and an afternoon chock full of babyfood making, the hubs turned to me and said, ‘why don’t you just buy your babyfood like everyone else?’  I looked at him dumbfounded for a moment before I started spouting off all the benefits of making your own babyfood.

Cost – when you consider that a little 4.5 oz jar of baby food costs close to a dollar and most fruits and vegetables cost somewhere between one and two dollars per pound, it becomes obvious that making your own babyfood is far more economical.  For example, I just bought close to five pounds of Bartlett pears for under five dollars, those pears will make approximately four whole trays of babyfood and at 12 oz per tray that’s about 48 oz of babyfood.  For the same price I could buy about four to five jars of baby food (unless they are on a super sale), which (in this example) makes homemade babyfood about half the cost.

Taste – have you ever tasted jarred babyfood?  It tastes funny.  It’s so processed that the natural flavours barely shine through the super strained purees.  I want my carrot baby food to taste like carrots and my pears to taste like pears; otherwise I can’t help but wonder if my babe will recognize the flavour once he moves on to table foods.  As far as I'm concerned, the thicker stage 2 and 3 jarred baby foods are in a class all their own, they taste gross, they smell disgusting and my spoiled, homemade baby food eating kid wanted nothing to do with them when I took the boy travelling to China at eight months old.

Nutrition – it’s no surprise that fresh, whole foods are the most nutritious options for the entire family, so it follows that fresh homemade food is a good choice for baby.  I have been known to occasionally grab a few beginner purees from the store, for those days that I haven’t quite got up the gusto to make baby food, but only after carefully reading the labels.  Many jarred baby foods (particularly the stage 2 and 3 variety) have high water, salt or sugar contents.  Remember the order the ingredients are listed are an indication of the composition of the food; water should never be the first ingredient.

From a nutrition standpoint, not only does homemade baby food give me complete control over what my baby consumes, it also allows me to introduce foods, like the superfood quinoa, that are not readily available in jarred foods. 

Texture – last, but certainly not least, making my own babyfood gives me the power to gradually introduce texture to my boys.  There’s no need to go directly from super-pureed to chunky foods.  When the baby started eating solids, I pureed everything until smooth, now I puree until there is just a hint of texture.  I also  make a point of having at least one slightly chunkier food available throughout the week to slowly ease the transition towards table foods.

In essence, by making my own babyfood, I’m saving money, retaining control of what my baby eats and  giving him a chance to taste the flavours of a well-rounded, wholesome and nutritious diet that I hope he will carry forward through his entire life.  

Do you make your own babyfood or do you buy it from the store?  What prompted that decision?