October 19, 2011

Baby Food Tools

Baby food can be as easy as handing your baby a banana, or simply squishing it up and feeding it to a baby with a spoon.  Ideally, minimal cooking is best to retain nutrients, but I've been trying all sorts of different ways to make baby food and thought I'd post on some of the tools that are out there. It's not always cheaper, but can be if you're smart about it. So far I haven't had to buy any jarred baby food because I can make large batches and keep it on hand.

Steaming Produce...
Most of the time I'll slice up an apple and steam it then I'll eat the peel off and give baby the remaining slices. Or, I'll steam large batches of sweet potato or carrots and then just pull out a potato or some carrot sticks to mash, grind, or eat in slices.

Freezing Ice Cubes or Making Popsicles...
I mash up ripe bananas or steam sweet potatoes and put them into ice cube trays and freeze overnight, then transfer into a container or bag to store the ice cubes in the freezer. This has been handy for quick meals. I'll throw about three banana cubes into a bowl and thaw them and add some ground up quinoa or some baby cereal into it with a little water and there's banana cereal. Or for dinner I'll put some sweet potato cubes in with some rice and have sweet potato casserole. If baby doesn't like it, I'll add a little milk formula and that normally works great. 

Once I had too much banana (bought bulk discount at the grocery store for being overripe) and froze the mashed up banana as popcicles so it's a nice summer treat for baby to suck on. Don't plan on this until baby is over 1 year old because otherwise it's too cold for baby (at least for mine).

The Mesh food sucker...

This is helpful before baby gets teeth for feeding themselves. Just put berries, banana, etc. inside it and let baby chomp on it. The seeds and whatever stays inside. However, it took me forever to clean it, so I didn't use it a ton, and by the time I wanted to give baby berries, he was already getting teeth and I didn't want him to rip the mesh. So, it's fun to have and about $2.50, but not essential. Oh yea...peas semi-worked and green beans didn't.

The Food Mill...

This is a handy little tool for grinding up food so you can hand it to or spoon feed your baby. It won't do raw carrots or green beans, etc., but I've put in steamed carrots and potatoes and other similar things and it works super well. This has been great for mixing veggies into rice, grain, etc. It normally runs about $11. I've seen them at nutrition shops, baby stores and online. I love them for putting in whatever we're eating so it's in bite size chunks...without having to get the blender out and dirty. It's super easy to clean.

Other Fancy Stuff...
There are other things you can buy, but don't need to, like special baby food steamers, freezable food cube containers, etc. But they're just baby-ized versions of things most people already have in their kitchen, so if you're making baby food to save money it's probably not worth the investment.  There's also a spoon that has a large handle that you can fill with pureed food so you just squeeze it out onto the spoon as the baby eats, but only use smooth puree, because the chunks clog up the hole that deposits onto the spoon.

A Wheat/Grain grinder/Mill is great too for grinding up rice, quinoa, oats, etc. I like to keep a jar of these on hand to use in the morning to add a spoonful to boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes. Voila--baby cereal. It's a cheap version of baby food without having to buy it. And it's helpful to thicken other purees or foods you give baby so they get more substance than just the pureed veggies.

I'm doing the baby food for many reasons:
1. I know what my baby is eating
2. It's fresh
3. It's resourceful
4. We're generally eating it anyway, so they get use to what we eat
5. It saves money
6. You don't throw away/recycle so many baby food jars/containers
7. It's fun (if you're smart about it and prepared....no fun when you run out of food)

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