By: Melinda of The Unfrazzled Mama Blog
Have you tried making your own baby food yet? I love it! I’ve done it for two of my babies now, and I would never consider buying store-bought baby food at this point because there are so many benefits to doing it myself!
- It’s cheaper! A 4 ounce jar of pureed peas can cost $1 or more at your local grocery store. Where I shop, a 12 ounce bag of frozen peas is exactly the same price for triple the amount of food. By cooking and prepping the frozen bag, you’ve saved 66% or more of the price of prepackaged baby food.
- It’s a more nutrient-rich choice. Store-bought foods are superheated in order to kill bacteria, but the extreme heat also causes the food to lose a lot of it’s vitamins and other nutrients.
- Making your own baby food gives you more control. If you don’t like the options that are available to choose from in the baby food aisle, preparing food yourself gives you the freedom to feed your baby anything you’d like them to have .
Having said all of that, it’s important to be careful when preparing food for your baby to make sure it doesn’t get contaminated. Because the last thing you need is a sick baby. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Wash Your Hands
Wash your hands! According to the CDC, diarrheal illness and pneumonia are the two leading causes of death in children under 5 around the world. Good hand washing drastically decreases the risk of contracting either of those illnesses, so make sure not to skip this step before you start making your baby food! Experts recommend scrubbing with soap for at least 20 seconds, about the amount of time it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song.
Wash Fruits and Vegetables
While you’re at the sink anyway, take a minute to wash any fruits and vegetables you may be using – even the organic ones! Washing with water can get rid of many pesticides, microorganisms from the soil it was grown in, and any other nastiness it may have picked up between the farm or orchard and your kitchen counter!
Organic or Not?
It’s great to buy organic produce for your baby if it’s in your budget, but if you can’t afford it or choose not to buy all organic, try avoiding the “Dirty Dozen” as listed by the EWG. This list includes things like strawberries, apples, and spinach, which are best to buy organic because they’re known to carry a lot of residue from pesticides. But the Clean Fifteen (which include avocados, peas and broccoli, among others) are great items that are generally safe to buy non-organic if cost is an issue for your family.
Fruits and vegetables only need to be cooked if they are not soft enough for your baby to eat raw. Bananas and avocados are great go-tos if you need something fast and easy for your baby that doesn’t require cooking. Other types of fruits and vegetables should be cooked on the stovetop just long enough for them to soften. The longer food is exposed to high heat, the more nutrients it loses. Meats and poultry should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 to 170 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the type of meat.
Opinions on baby food storage vary, but as a rule of thumb, prepared baby food should only be stored in the refrigerator for a maximum of 2 to 3 days. Prepared frozen foods should be consumed within a month or so. Be careful not to serve leftover baby food to your baby if you’ve dipped a spoon into the food after it was in the baby’s mouth. The bacteria from their saliva can contaminate the food and make them sick, even if it’s stored in the refrigerator.
You’ve made a great decision by choosing to make your own baby food. The extra effort and care it takes on your part to make sure the food you give your baby is safe will be totally worth it! Your baby will thrive on the wide variety of healthy food choices that you’re able provide for him or her, and your wallet will thank you!
Melinda is an amazing blogger, who focuses her blog, www.unfrazzledmama.com, on parenting, saving money, product reviews, and other general topics of life.
MakeFoodSafe thanks Melinda for her guest contribution and her insight on making safe baby food for moms (and dads) everywhere.