Making your baby's food at home not only allows you to control costs and ingredients, but it's fairly simple once you get a system developed. Puree a variety of fruits, vegetables and later, meats. As your baby gets older, you can puree the food you serve your family, minus any added salt, fat or sugar. Use only high-quality foods and keep your kitchen immaculate.
You don't need a lot of special equipment to puree your baby's food, but you should have a sturdy blender or a baby food mill. Choose equipment that can be assembled and disassembled quickly for easy cleaning. When choosing a baby food mill, look for ones that are portable, require no electricity and can puree small portions, says DanThuy Dao, clinical assistant professor at Midwestern University Multispecialty Clinic Pediatrics Services in Glendale, Arizona.
Choose high-quality fresh or frozen produce that contains no added salt, sugar, fat or preservatives. Use fresh produce within a day or two, and avoid produce that's bruised or blemished, suggests the March of Dimes. Spinach, beets, green beans, carrots and squash contain nitrates, which can cause anemia in young babies. Avoid giving these vegetables to babies younger than 6 months old, or use commercial products, which have been tested for nitrates, says the American Academy of Pediatrics. Cook most vegetables and fruits, which makes digestion easier, with the exception of bananas, peaches, apricots, avocados and plums, which can be pureed raw.
Keep It Safe
Foodborne illnesses are especially serious for young babies. Wash your hands, countertops and utensils with warm, soapy water before you begin. Wash all produce thoroughly under running water -- even fruit with a peel, counsels the March of Dimes. Keep raw food separate from cooked food and separate meat from produce and other foods. Cook beef to a temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit, says the March of Dimes, and chicken to a temperature of 180. Eggs should be cooked until they're firm. Be sure to taste heated food to make sure it's not too hot for your baby. Pour just the necessary amount into a serving bowl and refrigerate the rest. Use leftover baby food within 24 hours.
For convenience sake, puree baby food in big batches and freeze it. Pour pureed baby food in ice cube trays, says Dao, cover and freeze. Once the baby food has frozen solid, remove it from the trays and pack it in heavy-duty freezer bags to store for for up to three months. To thaw baby food, place a few cubes in the refrigerator overnight. Do not thaw frozen food on the kitchen counter, says the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
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