Homemade Baby Food
Experts say that it takes an infant between 15-21 instances of trying a food before a true like or dislike is established. If you are just beginning to introduce solid foods, you really will not be able to determine if your baby has a true dislike for a food until much later. Freezing purees allows you to go back and try a “rejected” food over again. Even if you will be strictly following the 3-4 day wait rule, we still recommend freezing baby food purees for optimal food safety!
Methods of Cooking
Steaming: This is one of the most preferred methods of cooking. By this method, nutrient loss in minimal. Left over water could be used as stock and for pureeing.
Baking: Baking is cooking by dry heat in the oven. The advantage – large quantities of food can be cooked. Limited loss of nutrients and the food is easily digestible.
Microwave Cooking: The disadvantages of microwave cooking are that food is cooked in small quantities and some foods may loose nutrients at a very high rate. The flavor and nutritive values of most vegetables are good in comparison with other methods. You may use a microwave for cooking if you prefer – the main disadvantage to this is that large batches of foods typically cannot be made at one time; many people find that the use of a microwave is unhealthy and potentially dangerous. The amount of nutrients that are “destroyed” by a microwave varies by the type of food that you are cooking. There are some foods whose nutrients are retained better when microwaved than when steamed or boiled. For example broccoli is one food that looses a vast majority of its nutrients when microwaved, more so than any other vegetable.
Pressure Cooking: Loss of nutrients is less in this method since little water is used.
Frying: Do frying only if required. Shallow frying is preferable compared to deep frying. Deep frying at high temperature can produce toxic chemicals such as peroxides, aldehydes, ketones, hydroperoxidases, cyclic monomeres etc. Preferably avoid reusing the fried oil.
Grilling: In this method, if the food is burnt with coals and fire, it can cause carcinogenic effect.
When venturing into the world of baby food making, one of the most often asked questions is, “How should I cook the foods that I will be making for my baby?”
For Fruits and Veggies
Steaming is the most preferred method with boiling in scant amounts of water being the second method. Foods such as sweet potato, white potato and squashes may be baked as well as steamed.
Baking is preferred as the most nutrients are retained. Typically, meat purees are best made with plain water as using the natural juices may make the taste too strong for baby. If you poach or use a crock-pot (cook meats in liquids) and then throw away the juices, you are tossing out some nutrients as well.
How to make a puree
1. Start by cooking the vegetable/fruit either by steaming, baking, microwaving or boiling. Steaming maintains the most nutrients. Steaming, baking and boiling all allow for big batches of foods to be made at one time. Microwave if you have a small appliance or for when you plan to puree only a full ice tray of food. Many parents prefer to not use a microwave; we suggest that you steam or bake as the preferred cooking method!
2. Take the vegetable/fruit and remove them into the machine you have decided to use for pureeing.
3. Set aside the liquid that the vegetable/fruits were cooked in. This will be the liquid you add to make the puree (do not use reserved water from carrots or other high nitrate veggies for a baby under 7 months old!). Adding this liquid also helps to preserve any nutrients that may have leached into the water during cooking.
4. Set your machine to puree or grind and begin to mash the vegetable/fruits.
5. As you are pureeing/grinding, add the liquid or plain water. You may use formula or breast milk if you so desire. These liquids give a little nutritional boost and add a familiar taste for baby.