How I Get The Healthiest Food For Our Baby
I have a 4-month old son, and he is getting so active that I know milk alone would not be enough for this growing boy. So I have started introducing him to solid food. But since I am very concerned about giving him only healthy and safe foods, I make our own babyfood, and not buy the commercial ones from the groceries. It’s been over a month since I started doing this and I am glad to be sharing these ‘how-to’ pointers with you.
WHAT IS THE BEST FOOD FOR MY BABY?
Different ages have different nutritional needs so when and how you start baby on solid foods rely so much on his readiness for it. One factor is age. Experts recommend starting baby at 4 months old, and no sooner. But some babies may start late, and it’s okay. The second factor is the readiness of baby to eat solid food, which is related to how he is performing with his age-appropriate developmental milestones. I started baby on solid foods when he was able to sit up by himself, hold his head up and when he started putting anything into his mouth.
The best foods for my baby are:
- Pureed vegetables, preferably sweet potatoes and squash;
- Pureed fruits, like peaches, bananas and apples;
- Pureed meat of chicken, pork, beef.
How fine or coarse your baby food is after puree depends on your baby’s age. At 4 months, puree to an almost liquid state. As he grows older, and grows his teeth, you can adjust the coarseness of the food to more of solid than liquid.
HOW DOES FOOD QUALITY AFFECT BABY’S HEALTH?
Fruits, vegetables are packed with nutrients. Our growing babies need nutrients and vitamins to help them develop. As we feed carrots, rich in vitamin A, his eyesight is enhanced. Citrus fruits build up his immune system. Calcium from milk and dairy is good for his bones as he grows taller and bigger.
Here is a guide on what nutrients baby can get from foods:
- Vitamins A and C, fiber and folic acid are found in fruits and vegetables;
- Fibre, iron, energy, vitamins B and E are found in pasta, rice, bread, potatoes and cereals;
- Iron, protein and vitamin B are found in meats, fish and eggs;
- Calcium, protein and vitamins A and D are found in milk, yoghurt and cheese.
Good foods definitely benefit our baby, but if we give him the wrong foods, it can harm him, too. Wrong foods are not age-appropriate which may cause upset stomach or even choking. He may also have some allergies. Some experts recommend that baby be introduced late to eggs especially if there is a history of allergies in the family. If with any doubt, consult your pediatrician.
Two very crucial things affect the quality of our baby’s food:
- Quality of the food itself. It should be fresh, and in the best possible condition;
- Proper and hygienic food preparation and storage. Wash your hands properly. Clean the utensils used. Vacuum seal foods before storing it.
HOW DO I PROPERLY PREPARE BABY FOOD?
It can be rather disappointing that you buy the best fruits and vegetables, and then painstakingly prepare your baby food only to have it spoil before baby can enjoy it. I have learned this the hard way. Here are a few pointers to make sure that does not happen:
- Thoroughly wash the fruits and vegetables after purchase, before storing it or preparing it;
- Wash your hands before cooking;
- Cook the food. You can boil, steam, bake or broil it. Steaming is the healthiest method;
- Let it cool off before you start working on it;
- Cut it the foods into the small pieces before putting it in the blender. I do this so my blender doesn’t get overworked. I know some just cut it in bigger sizes. You can do that, too;
- Add this to your dry mix: breast milk or formula milk (already mixed with water) or the liquid where you cooked your fruits or vegetables or meat in;
- On your blender, choose ‘puree’ or ‘grind’;
- Stop when your baby food has the consistency you prefer.
I like to make baby food in big batches, like a kilo of potatoes all together. First, bulk purchase is cheaper in the long run. Second, I can dedicate an afternoon, while baby naps, making baby food, and for the rest of the time, I can easily get from the frozen prepared baby food. Third, I want to always have baby food onhand for impromptu trips to the park or to visit grandparents.
HOW DO I PROPERLY PRESERVE BABY FOOD?
When I make big batches, I make sure I preserve it right. Otherwise, it is pointless to prepare a whole kilo and have it spoil in the refrigerator. Here is what I do:
- I have a kilo of potatoes. I steam the whole thing. Half of it, I store uncut. One fourth of it, I cut up and store. The remaining one fourth, I puree and store in pureed state;
- This way, I can make variations whenever I want. Obviously, the pureed food becomes baby food which baby can eat as potatoes alone. The second variation, I can mix with chicken when I puree it;
- After I puree food, especially if it is more liquid than solid, I pour it into icecube trays. Once it is solid (no need to have it totally frozen) enough, I remove it from the ice tray;
- I place it inside plastic freezer bags, and vacuum seal it;
- I then put a label with the name of the food and the date prepared, put it in the freezer.
Yes, I use a vacuum sealing machine before I store the baby food in the freezer. And again, I have learned the hard way. Once, our baby food had freezer burn on top, and while it may not affect the safety of the food, I don’t really like to risk it for my baby’s health.
The top benefits for using vacuum sealer are:
- The foods are preserved as fresh as the day they were prepared;
- The nutrients of the foods are locked in;
- The baby food can last up to months, although I play on the safe side and try to consume in a month’s time;
- Frozen baby food is easy to heat up – just remove from bag and microwave, or soak the bag in a bowl of hot water;
- Ice cube sizes mean no wastage. I started with feeding him just one ice cube, and as he grew older, and had his favorites, sometimes he eats two ice cubes.
Vacuum sealer machine like the Foodsaver models is a great appliance for mothers. Owning this machine is that you already own a shield to protect the health of your baby. If you want to find helpful advices to help you choose the model that best suits your needs, you will get at vacuum sealer adviser.
My baby is precious. Yours is, too. Let us make sure they eat only foods that are healthy and safe for them.