The first foods you offer should be smooth in texture and thin in consistency. Initially, you should offer solid foods in a very liquid form -- in other words, pureed. But pureeing your baby's food is a temporary task. At about seven to eight months, your baby is able to manage soft chunks of food with some substance (such as bits of cheese, flakes of fish, peas, and Cheerios), which she can get from the family table.
What is the difference between commercial and homemade baby food? It really depends on the quality of the foods used to make the baby food, the care given to preserve the vitamin and mineral content, and the amount of added salt, sugar, preservatives, and spices. In general, homemade baby food is often denser in calories: It often is thicker and has less water. Commercial baby food is required by law to list the ingredients contained in each jar. In response to parents' wishes, commercial baby food now rarely contains added salt, sugar, spices, or preservatives.
Homemade baby food may have a higher vitamin and mineral content than commercial baby food if it is made from the very freshest foods and if it is served soon after preparation. A long shelf life and exposure to light may reduce the vitamin content of commercial baby food.
In the preparation of commercial baby food, care is taken to be certain the food is free of bacteria and other organisms that could make your baby sick.
Homemade baby food is safe, too, if you maintain a high standard of cleanliness when you prepare it.
If you decide to make your own baby food, the following method may be helpful:
- Use the freshest and best food available. Avoid canned foods, which are high in salt and additives. Avoid using foods that have added sugar, spices, preservatives, or fat, and don't add these ingredients yourself.
- Wash your hands carefully before handling the food or equipment.
- Make sure all the cooking utensils, the cutting board, and the blender or food processor are very clean. Scrub all equipment with hot, soapy water and rinse it well.
- Prepare the food for cooking by washing fruits and vegetables well and removing skins, pits, and seeds. Remove the fat, skin, and bones from meats.
- Cook the food by steaming, microwaving, or boiling in a very small amount of water in a covered pot. Cook until tender.
- Add a cupful of the cooked food to the blender or processor and puree with just enough of the cooking liquid to allow the blades to spin. Add more cooking liquid or water if necessary.
- Some foods do not need to be cooked. Fresh peaches, pears, and bananas are examples. Cut the peeled fruits into chunks and then puree.
- You can serve the pureed food right away. Store the remainder carefully.
- To store the pureed food, place serving-size portions in an ice cube tray, a paper cupcake liner, a glass dish, or a piece of plastic wrap and freeze. Two tablespoons is a typical serving size. Make the servings larger or smaller, depending on what your baby eats.
- To serve stored food, reheat the individual portions. Microwave ovens can be dangerous since they may create hot spots in the cooked food, which can burn your baby's mouth. Be sure to cool the food to a safe temperature before feeding.
Once your baby no longer requires pureed food, a baby food grinder is a convenient way to make baby food right at the table. The grinder should be very clean, and the food used in the grinder should be fresh, unsalted, and without spices, fat, or skins. Place the right portion in the grinder; add water or cooking water as needed. As your baby grows older, she will prefer foods from your table since she wants to eat the same foods she sees you eating.
During the trials and travails of the first few months of your baby's life, proper nutrition is important for the both of you. The constant care your newborn requires will require all of your time and energy, and that is not the time to cut corners on the food you eat.
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This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.
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About the Consultant:
Alvin Eden, M.D.: Alvin Eden, M.D. serves as a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the Weil Medical College of Cornell University in New York, New York. He is Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn. Dr. Eden is also the author of a number of child care book, including Positive Parenting and Growing Up Thin.