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Is Homemade Baby Food Safe? A Guide To Make Baby Food At Home

Making your own baby food is easy; you don't have to be a culinary expert or a nutritionist to do that. True that buying baby food from the store saves you some time, but studies have continually pointed out that commercial baby foods may lose vitamins and nutrients during processing. In addition to this, most of these baby foods have added flavours or taste boosters that, in no way, can be healthy for your baby in the long run [1][2].

With more and more studies pointing out the benefits of making baby food at home, many parents are turning to homemade food as it is nutritious and often, more economical alternative to baby foods available in store.

Doctors recommend new parents to wait until six months to start introducing solid foods, but some parents also begin trying solid foods as soon as four months [3]. Read on to know more about homemade baby food and their safety.

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When Can You Start Giving Your Baby Solid Food?

The best time to start your baby on solid foods is when they turn six months old. Some of the other factors you need to be aware of before introducing solid foods are as follows:

• It is important that your baby can sit upright and hold their head up [4].
• Before introducing new foods to your baby, have a talk with your paediatrician.
• Let your baby try one food at a time at first, as this helps you understand whether your child has any problems with that food, such as food allergies [5].
• Wait for 3 to 5 days between each new food.


How To Make Baby Food At Home?

It is always safe and easy to start with simple, bland foods with a pureed consistency, as it is easier for your child to eat foods that are mashed, pureed, or strained and very smooth in texture [6].

All you need to make baby food at home is a food grinder and good streamer. Steaming the food is the best way as it helps prevent the nutrients from escaping [7]. Here are the steps to make baby food at home:

Step 1: Wash your hands and the utensils used for making baby food.
Step 2: Scrub and peel fruits and vegetables.
Step 3: Bake, steam, roast, or microwave until the food becomes tender/soft.
Step 4: Puree or mash the food by adding a little bit of liquid, you can use water, breast milk or formula.
Step 5: Introduce the food to your bundle of joy slowly and gradually.
Step 6: Store in the refrigerator or freezer in airtight containers.
Step 7: Rewarm when it is time to eat and allow the food to cool.

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Precaution: Some foods are potential choking hazards; you can help prevent choking by preparing foods that can be easily dissolved with saliva and do not require chewing [8].


What Foods Are Safe For Your Baby?

Under this section, we will tell you about some of the safest options of solid foods you can introduce to your baby.

4-6 Months Old

At this age, you should only use simple, single-ingredient purées for your baby. Once your baby starts liking single-ingredient purees, you can start combining two ingredients. You can try the following baby food recipes for your baby:

(1) Banana puree: Rich in potassium and fibre, bananas are good for your baby. They are gentle on the stomach but make sure not to overfeed them, as it may cause constipation [9].

How to make: Peel a small banana and mash it with a fork. In the initial stages, you can add a little milk if necessary, to thin down the consistency and add a familiar taste.

(2) Baked sweet potato puree: Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamins, antioxidants, and fibre [10].

How to make: Preheat the oven, peel the potatoes and bake/roast for about 45 minutes. Remove from the over, cut the potatoes and puree until smooth. You can add a little of your baby's usual milk to thin out the consistency.

(3) Pea puree: Rich source of nutrition and packed with vitamins A and C, iron, protein, and calcium, peas are good for your baby's health [11].

How to make: Boil water, add pea, cover and steam until the peas become tender (15 mins.). Blend or puree the peas well; you can add a little of your baby's usual milk to thin out the consistency.



7-9 Months Old

Once your baby reaches seven months, you can make thicker purées with more than one ingredient.

(4) Beetroot and blueberry: Rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and fibre, this mix can make for a healthy and tasty baby food [12].

How to make: Wash and peel the beetroots and cut into small cubes. Wash the fresh blueberries and steam the beets and blueberries for about 10-15 minutes. Place the steamed mix in a blender and add some breast milk, if necessary.

(5) Avocado and banana: Avocado is rich in good fats and fibre, and bananas, as mentioned before, are rich in potassium and vitamin C [13].

How to make: Cut avocados in half, remove the pit and scoop out with a spoon. Peel the bananas, add all the ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. You can strain out the lumps using a strainer.


What Are The Advantages Of Making Your Own Baby Food?

Giving your baby homemade food has the following benefits [14]:

• You are aware of what you are feeding the baby (ingredients).
• Economical and pocket-friendly when compared to many commercial baby food brands.
• You have the freedom to choose the fruits, vegetables, and other foods for purees, instead of relying on the flavours chosen by the baby food manufacturers.
• The baby food is less processed and highly fresh.


What Are The Disadvantages Of Making Your Own Baby Food?

While homemade baby foods can be beneficial for many, it has some disadvantages too, and they are as follows [15]:

• It is time-consuming as it takes time to make and prepare lots of little servings of homemade baby food.
• Pre-packaged baby foods are convenient because it comes in measured amounts and ready to serve, unlike homemade baby food.
• Homemade baby foods may spoil more quickly and require refrigeration.

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Parents, Here Are Some Points To Keep In Mind

• Keep the portions small when introducing solid foods; babies need only about 1 to 2 tablespoons of food.
• Keep an eye out for common allergens such as eggs, peanut, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish.
• Try to stick to organic and pesticide-free ingredients to make food for your baby. Some common foods that may have a high pesticide content are apples, peaches, strawberries, grapes, celery, spinach, sweet bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and potatoes [16].
• Mix cereals and mashed cooked grains with breast milk, formula, or water to make it smooth and easy for your baby to swallow.
• Remove all fat, skin, and bones from poultry, meat, and fish, before cooking.
• Cut soft food into small pieces or thin slices.
• Remove seeds and hard pits from fruit and then cut the fruit into small pieces.
• Hard fruits and vegetables, like apples and carrots, usually need to be cooked so they can be easily mashed.


On A Final Note…

Yes, homemade baby food is safe, healthy and pocket-friendly. All you need are healthy ingredients, some basic cooking supplies, and a blender.

While homemade foods have certain advantages to it, there are certain commercial baby food brands that are nutritious options for feeding your baby. Not every mother/father will have the time for making homemade food every day and several paediatricians point out that today's commercial baby foods provide balance and variety with carefully controlled and consistent nutrient content - so you have nothing to worry, shop carefully and wisely.

[Image source: Freepik]

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