Dra Aliza: As a new mom, you want nothing but the best for your baby -- and what better way to nurture your child than with homemade food prepared with lots of love?
There are many reasons to prepare your own baby food. You can save money, monitor the ingredients and select fresh, organic foods to nourish your baby. If your baby is ready to start solid foods (4 to 6 months) and you are just beginning to learn to make homemade baby food, the main thing is to keep it simple.
At first, your baby may not like solid foods, but keep trying. Don't introduce more than one new type of food each week. Offer your baby the same new food for four to five days to test for any allergic reactions. There is no need to sweeten, add salt or spice up foods for your baby. In fact, if you get them started on plain and simple foods, they will not develop a yearning for overly sweetened or salty foods later.
If you do decide to make your own baby food, remember that cleanliness and food safety are critical. Be sure to wash your hands before handling any food, and ensure that you're preparing food on a clean surface with clean utensils, pots and pans.
One thing you will need to buy is a food processor for grinding and purĂ©eing. Alternately, you can use hand-held food grinders specially designed for preparing baby food. Wash and peel any food prior to preparing it. Cut into bite-size chunks. Steam the food when possible, since many nutrients are lost when boiling. Once the food is cooked, grind and purĂ©e with the food processor or hand-held food grinder.
It is advisable to make small batches of food at a time, since your baby's palate is getting used to many new foods, flavors and sensations; you don't want to be stuck with a batch of purĂ©ed chicken and squash if your baby didn't take to it too well. But when you find foods that your baby enjoys, you might consider storing a small batch to save on future cooking and prep time.
If you elect to freeze or can homemade food, be sure to prepare and store it carefully, since your baby's immune system is vulnerable and susceptible to illnesses. Store the extra food by spooning it into ice cube trays, freezing and, once frozen, placing it in a freezer bag. Be sure to label and date the bag. Keep in mind that fresh foods tend to spoil more quickly than processed foods, so be sure to use it or freeze it within one to two days of preparation.
A final thought before you set out on your baby-food-making adventure: Always consult with your physician before introducing any new foods into your baby's diet. He or she will have the best advice and guidelines on what foods to introduce to your baby's diet and when.
It is wonderful to give your baby a home-cooked meal, but don't worry if you are too busy. It is perfectly OK to buy healthy prepackaged foods. Just remember to check the nutrition labels first. Bon appĂ©tit!