Hints on Making Your Own Baby Food
Making your own baby food is clearly on the rise. In fact, the New York Times reported last year that commercial baby food sales have declined 4% per year since 2005 (measured in volume consumed). Yes, some of that might be because of a decline in births, but the commercial manufacturers of baby food are plenty worried. They’re trying to improve sales with new flavors and “sexy” packaging (not our adjective, the Times said that).
Our home office pediatrician expert and co-author of Baby 411, Dr. Ari Brown, applauds parents who want to make their own food:
“It’s actually preferable to offer food from your table. That way, your baby will get used to your cooking! Yes, you can use seasonings, herbs and spices. Just limit the amount of salt and use iodized salt if you must add it. It’s not that hard. Trust me, I’d never make it on ‘Top Chef’ but even I could make baby food.”
If you decide to make some of your baby’s solid food, how do you store it so it doesn’t spoil? Surprisingly, there are more options for baby food storage than you might think.
First, you need something small. Two to four oz. portions are considered ideal for babies just starting out with solid food. Then you have to decide how to store it.
Do you want to freeze or refrigerate extra servings? Do you want to be able to microwave them to bring them up to room temperature? Do you prefer glass to plastic? How about single use or reusable storage? And finally, consider whether you’ll need to travel with baby food—some options are easier to take with you than others.
There are three basic choices for baby food storage:
- Freezer trays. We know, you’re asking, “why can’t we just use an ice cube tray?” Good question. You could, but you’ll have to remove the baby food blocks once they freeze and store them in a freezer bag to prevent freezer burn. Specialized baby food freezer trays, on the other hand, have a lid that helps avoid freezer burn. These are usually BPA-free silicone trays divided into single, 2 oz. serving with a plastic top. Freezer trays are just for freezing—you pop the serving out of the tray and warm it in a microwave safe bowl or defrost it in the fridge.
- Storage sets. No doubt you’ve been using plastic or glass storage containers with snap-on lids for years. Now they make special sets just for baby food. These containers often have measurements marked on the side of the container, leak-proof lids and stacking storage trays. Individual containers can be defrosted and heated in the microwave. The only issue: if you want to freeze a large batch of baby food, storage sets have a major limitation—you can’t remove portions from these sets once they are frozen to put in freezer bags and free them up for more batches.
- Feeding pouches. You may have seen commercial baby food in pouches at the grocery store. Now you can buy the pouches yourself and fill them with your own foods. You have two choices with pouches: single use (recyclable) or reusable. The pouches can be frozen (don’t overfill, though!) or refrigerated, but not microwaved. Instead, you’ll have to warm them in a hot water bath.