Recent headlines regarding the shortage in baby formula and food have focussed public interest on this crisis affecting millions of babies. Since the pandemic’s start, supply chain shortages have caused baby formula prices to skyrocket. In other words, even if you can find baby formula or food in stock, it’s going to be prohibitively expensive for many families.
Many parents depend on baby formula to provide much-needed nutrients for their babies. Even breastfed babies may need supplemental food or formula based on recommendations by their healthcare provider. Most infants are ready to try solid foods around the age of 6 months along with formula or breastmilk. The shortage of baby food has forced families to look at alternatives such as homemade baby food.
Baby food alternative – the DIY option
One alternative to store-bought baby food is to make it at home yourself. There is often a misconception that making baby food at home is laborious, time-consuming, or not as healthy as store-bought options. Nothing could be further than the truth.
Homemade baby food is less expensive
Making your baby’s food at home is often less expensive than store-bought options, particularly when stocks are low and prices are high. By combining fruits and vegetables (peaches, apples, berries avocado, banana) that your family already eats in baby-safe ways, you can make baby food that’s much cheaper than buying it in the store.
It is quick and easy
Unlike food for adults, baby food is actually quite simple to make. As their tastebuds are still developing, you don’t need to add sugar, salt, or other common seasonings. Steamed and mashed/pureed fruits and vegetables are great options for babies that are just starting to eat solids. You won’t need any fancy equipment either – a blender, food processor, or even a fork (for easily mashed items like avocado and banana) are all you need to make baby food.
Health benefits of homemade baby food
Store-bought baby food contains essential vitamins and minerals needed for healthy babies. However, making your own means you control what your baby eats in terms of nutrition. Instead of adding sugar, you can add sweet fruits like peaches. You can also introduce healthy herbs like basil or seasonings like cinnamon depending on what your baby likes.
Commercial baby food has to meet certain guidelines for health and safety which often means all the jars (even with different ingredients) end up tasting the same with the same texture. They may also contain added starches or other ingredients to make them easy to ship or add bulk.
Homemade food allows you to tailor the taste and texture according to what your little one likes. When they get bored of eating the same puree, you can add some herbs or fruit to mix things up! Adding seasonal ingredients means your baby gets all their essential vitamins throughout the year, without extra effort.
How to make baby food at home
The basic process of making baby food at home has 3 steps:
- Prepare: Make sure all your fruits and vegetables are clean by washing them thoroughly. Peel and chop them into bite-sized pieces so it becomes easier to cook and blend.
- Cook: You can steam, bake, or microwave the ingredients until they are tender. Test by poking each type of vegetable with a fork, it should go through easily.
- Blend: Blend the fruits and vegetables in a blender to a smooth consistency. If you find a few small pieces, just mash them with a fork or strain the puree.
3 simple recipes
A great way to start is by mashing single ingredients such as banana and avocado. Once your baby gets used to these flavors, you can introduce combinations with some herbs or seasonings.
Sweet potato + apple + cinnamon
Combine 1 cooked sweet potato and 1 steamed apple with a pinch of cinnamon powder in a blender to make a nutritious baby food recipe. If the consistency is too thick, you can add some breastmilk, formula, or water to thin it out.
Sweet peaches + ginger/basil
Peel and chop 2 medium peaches and grate 1 tsp of ginger or chop 1 tsp of basil leaves finely. Put the ingredients in a small saucepan with some water and bring to a boil. Let the contents simmer for 5 minutes, then blend to the desired consistency.
Pineapple + mango + mint
Blend 1 cup of steamed pineapple and 1 cup of steamed mango with ½ tsp of finely chopped mint to a smooth puree. This recipe combines sweet mango with tart pineapple to introduce new flavors to your baby’s growing diet.
These proportions may give more than 1 serving depending on how much your baby eats. You can also make large batches at once to reduce cooking time during the busy week. You can freeze them in single-serve dishes (small jars or ice cube trays) and warm them up as needed.