In spite of the added work, some parents get satisfaction from preparing baby food themselves. However, that requires extra care to keep baby's food safe and to retain the nutrients from fresh foods.
Commercial baby foods are nutritious options for feeding baby, too. Today's commercial baby foods provide balance and variety with carefully controlled and consistent nutrient content.
Follow these guidelines if you choose to prepare homemade baby food:
- Wash your hands before preparing baby food.
- Always use clean cutting boards, utensils and containers to cook, puree and store homemade baby food.
- Wash, peel and remove seeds or pits from produce. Take special care with fruits and vegetables that are grown close to the ground; they may contain spores for Clostridium botulinum or contain other harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
- Start with fresh or frozen vegetables. Cook them until tender by steaming or microwaving, then puree or mash. There's no need to add salt, other seasonings or sweeteners. Remember: A baby's tastes aren't the same as yours.
- Puree or mash fresh fruit or fruit canned in its own juice. Never add honey or corn syrup.
- Avoid putting egg whites in homemade baby food until the baby's first birthday. Egg whites, more likely than egg yolks, may cause an allergic reaction. Cook any egg whites you feed your toddler.
- Cook meats, poultry and egg yolks until well done. Babies are especially susceptible to food poisoning caused by eating undercooked meats, poultry and eggs. Again, there's no need for added flavorings.
- Prepare foods with a texture appropriate for the baby's feeding state. Puree foods in a food processor, blender or baby food grinder, or mash them with a fork; or chop them well, so your baby won't choke.
- Cover and refrigerate or freeze homemade baby food immediately after it's prepared. Keep homemade baby food in a covered container for one or two days in the refrigerator or three to four months in the freezer. Label and date homemade baby food.
- For convenience, freeze prepared baby food for later use. Freeze it in small portions in a clean ice cube tray. Once frozen, put the cubes into clean, airtight, plastic bags for single-serve portions. As another method, use the "plop and freeze" technique: plop meal-size spoonfuls of pureed food onto a cookie sheet, freeze, then transfer the frozen baby food to clean plastic bags for continued freezing.