Baby Food: Jarred or Homemade?Katlyn Joy |31, July 2014
We want to give our children the best start in life, especially when it comes to their health. When to feed baby, what to feed baby, and how to feed baby are big concerns in the second half of the first year.
Baby Food Options
As a parent, you can begin supplementing first with cereal, usually around six months. Exactly when and what cereal may depend on your baby and your family allergen history, and of course, your doctor's advice.
When you begin to add other solids such as veggies and fruits, and later, meats, to baby's diet, you can opt for table food, free of spices or other things baby doesn't need, commercial baby food, or organic baby food. You can also create your own baby food with equipment as simple as a fork, to using a hand mill, to using a blender, to using a baby food processor.
Typically, we equate the easiest choice with the laziest choice, and thereby the worst one. However, that may not always be the case. While it is simple to grab some jars from a shelf, and voila, add a spoon and you're done, it may not be so bad.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 4 months, then beginning solids, but states waiting until 6 months would be better. They also state mothers should continue breastfeeding after the introduction of solid foods until baby's first birthday.
They do not have warnings about or statements against commercial foods. Some studies haven't shown much of a health boost from organic food over non-organic. While the Food and Drug Administration provides standards to give an organic seal to foods, they do not make any claims that organic food is more nutritious or safe than non-organic.
Additives and Allergens
Concerns beyond pesticides linger for other parents. Some worry about certain additives, the processing involving in commercial foods, the lack of nutrition compared to homemade, or possible serious allergy issues, should that be in the family.
If these issues concern you, then you would do well to look into preparing your own food for baby. You can go as low tech as possible, or get a whole expensive system if it looks better or more convenient to you.
Making Your Own Baby Food
For beginnings, it can be as simple as mashing up a ripe banana for baby. You may want to mix it with a bit of breastmilk or formula, or a tad of baby cereal for the first offerings, and slowly increasing the banana amount with subsequent feedings.
Later, you could add sugar-free applesauce, that is organic, if you prefer. Most table foods can be offered to baby, just remember to add spices, salt and pepper, or other sauces, after taking out baby's portions. One advantage to this is the simplicity, while the other is getting baby used to eating what the family eats.
For instance, if you are eating carrots, simply mash one up for baby before adding brown sugar or pepper. If you are having peas, mash them up, and remove hulls for younger infants. Later, you can offer soft foods like macaroni and cheese, without salt or pepper, to baby, as well. Lastly, you'll add cow's milk and meats. Check with the pediatrician for advice for your individual child, as different kids may need to follow a different schedule.
By making your own baby food, you can insure your baby is getting exactly what you intend and nothing else. Just be sure to use impeccable hygiene when prepping, feeding and storing the food. Don't put food back in the frig if baby's spoon was dipped in it and then fed to baby. If you have leftovers that will keep, freeze them in ice cube trays, empty into a ziplock bag and label with the date.
Many parents use a mixture of store bought baby foods, homemade food, and table food. If you are having a zesty stew, it can take more planning to give baby table food on that night. Instead you may pop open a jar to offer baby. If you are traveling and baby has only just begun solids, you may want to pack commercial foods.
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