Monday, July 6, 2009

He's No Gerber Baby!

Feeding your baby is significantly more challenging than anyone lead me to believe, but at least for the first four months, you're sticking to a liquid diet -- breast milk or formula. But at about six months, we moved into solid foods in the form of the ultra-appetizing pureed vegetables. Yum!

After feeding the baby canned food for a few weeks, I started making my own food, and I have stuck with this since. Here are the pros and cons for those who are thinking about making their own:

Cost - There is no question that making your own food is significantly cheaper than buying pre-packaged food. A 99 cent bag of frozen peas makes 14 servings of baby food. That works out to about 7 cents per serving, as opposed to 50 cents for canned food.

Taste - There is no avoiding eating some baby food as a parent; you will have to check the temperature and convince a picky eater that yes, this green chunky stuff on the spoon is just as tasty as a Cheerio! I don't know what they do to pureed vegetables, but they're gross. If you make your own, it just tastes likes peas, carrots, or (my personal favorite) sweet potatoes.

Variety -
We like variety in our diet, and so do our babies. How would you feel if you had to eat "Summer Vegetable Medley" three meals a day? When you make your own, you can select anything in the produce section, and from there, you can create an infinite number of combinations of foods.

Health Benefits -
Fresh vegetables and fruits are more nutrient-rich than frozen, canned, or overly-processed foods; therefore homemade food is going to be better for you than canned food. Similarly, while rare, food bacteria outbreaks do happen in commercial processing facilities. You can avoid this by making it yourself. I just end up with dog fur frozen in the food.

Environmentally Friendly -
I was shocked by how our recycling bins filled up with baby food jars. Homemade food has less on an environmental impact.


Preparation -
Prepping, steaming, pureeing, and freezing the food is time-consuming and very messy. I typically spend an entire morning or afternoon making the food. The key is having a good food processor; mine is the deluxe mega Cuisinart that could puree a tractor tire, so it makes the process much easier.

Convenience - Canned food is ready whenever you are. Open, serve, throw away. With frozen food, you have to heat it, mix it, check the temperature, serve, then wash the dishes. And if you're like me and wait until five minutes after meal time to start prepping the meal, you may have a hysterical baby on your hands before the meal is actually ready.

Storage - It's too difficult to make single servings of most foods, so it gets frozen. The size of your freezer impacts the amount of food you can store, and therefore how much you can make in a single cooking session and how long that food will last. The more freezer space, the more you can cook in one batch, and the longer you can go between cooking.

Baby's Preference - You want to introduce spinach to the baby? Buy a 79 cent jar. If he hates it, you're out 79 cents. If you make your own, you're out the cost of the food, plus all the time and labor involved. My solution: buy a jar and introduce it that way, and if he's a fan, make a larger batch of my own.

Variety -
Yes, this is also a pro. But in order to get this variety, you have to find it and make it. During the summer this is easy, but during the winter, produce is more expensive and difficult to find new things. I don't think the baby would be too into kale or artichokes.

Each person needs to weigh these pros and cons for him or herself and decide if making their own food will work for his or her family. I use a bit of a compromise. About 75% of what my son eats I make myself, but I'm not going to make my own rice cereal or teething biscuits.

Now, what to make myself for dinner? I'm thinking sweet potatoes and Cheerios....

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE making baby food! It's definitely the way to go. Every now and then though we pick up neat looking combos in the baby food aisle for nights/mornings that I'm just not being creative enough to do more than mash a banana.