MMM: The Four C’s of Home-Made Baby Food

Welcome to the Monday Mama in Madrid Series! (MMM)

When Violeta turned 6 months old, I knew it would be a fun time because of a major milestone: eating solids!  I was adamant about giving her the most natural nourishment from day 1, which was why I had EBF’ed (exclusively breastfed) her, and am still going strong.  Therefore, I knew that when the time came for her to start eating food, I would make my own. Making your own food has so many benefits compared to buying bottled food:

·         You choose the ingredients: Not only can you create mixtures that you can’t find in stores, but the ingredients you choose are much fresher than something that’s been on a shelf for months.  In addition, you are controlling the vitamins & minerals your baby gets without all the additives.  Clearly it’s also tastier.  A rule of thumb is; if you wouldn’t eat it, why should your baby?

·         Your baby is part of the family eating experience: They get used to eating the same foods as the rest of the family.  This can be a great way to promote healthy eating habits. Remember that small children imitate what their parents and older siblings do.

·         The cost is much lower: Although some may argue with this point, there is data showing that the average family spends approximately $300 on processed baby food in the first year of life, compared to $55 making their own. 

·         It’s environmentally friendly: Did you know that a recent study found that the average family in the U.S uses up to 600 jars of baby food in the 1st year of life? That’s a lot of wasted material when you consider all the families that do this! 

Ok, so I know what your next question is. Who has time to do this?  Well, everyone does. This is making food, not brain surgery.  If you’re going to cook for yourself, why wouldn’t you cook for your baby as well?  It’s a matter of being just a little organized.  When I make baby food, I always make enough for 1-2 weeks, so it is actually very easy when it comes time to prepare. You don’t have to make the meals everyday - no-brainer.

Let me show you how it’s done with what I call, The 4C Plan:

1)  CLEAN:  After selecting what you are going to prepare, make sure you clean the fruit or vegetable (or meat if you’ve gotten to that stage).  This also involves peeling the fruits or vegetables if your child is still in the first stages of eating. 
2)  CUT:  Cut the fruit/vegetable or meat into pieces that are about 1-2 inches in length. This will make it easier to puree later.

Boiling sweet potatoes
Baking chicken breasts
3)  COOK:  Choose your method of cooking.  Many times I just steam or lightly boil the raw food, but another nutritious way of cooking the food is to bake it.  It brings out the natural flavor without killing the vitamins.
When you’re done with this you need to select the instrument that you will puree the food with.  Many use the Baby Bullet.  Although this is a wonderful machine, it is expensive, and not really necessary in getting the job done correctly.  I use a hand mixer, or “batidora” in Spain.  The blade works well for all foods as well as grinding oatmeal which I make her for breakfast.  You also have control over the texture of the food, which is important as the baby grows.

4)  CUBE:  After the puree is made you’ll need to freeze and store it.  I know many mothers who use ice cube trays (silicone of course), hence the “cubing”.  I purchased something similar, the only difference being in the shape (elongated bars). 

Chicken & Sweet Potatoes ready to freeze

Once everything freezes, remove the bars or cubes and store them in plastic bags, labeling what is in there (a lot of foods tend to look the same when frozen in a puree form).  You can also write the date to know when it was made. Every night take out what the baby will be eating the next day (the amount will depend on the size and age of baby), put it in a small covered Tupperware, and leave it in the refrigerator to defrost.  All you need to do before feeding time is heat it up and you’re ready to go.  Life isn’t always planned out so easily, so even if you forget to do this, you can always take it out that day and put it in the microwave or stove top if necessary. It also bears importance to mention that there are foods that require no prep time whatsoever.  For example, bananas, pears, and avocados just need to be smashed with a fork and they’re ready to eat.  Personally I like to mix those foods with plain yogurt. 

I highly recommend for any questions, advice, nutritional content, or recipes regarding making your own food. It’s a great source of information which I consult! 

A few of Violeta’s favorites are sweet potatoes and apples; pumpkin and string beans; zucchini, eggplant, and carrots; avocado and yogurt or queso de Burgos (she does have Spanish heritage after all)!

A big hit at our house: pumpkin & zucchini with a little pastina
Not only is making baby food an easy and fun process, but your baby will thank you for it later.  In addition to tasting great, you will be giving your baby the best nutrition possible. 

What are some of your baby’s favorite recipes?  We’d love for you to share your ideas!

-Nicole & Violeta

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