Today’s post is by BITL contributing author and iParenting award winning author, Lisa Barnes. Lisa is the author of the fantastic and practical book, Petit Appetit.
Babies usually triple their weight during their first year. So if “they are what they eat”, this is the most important time to give them the best. Plus you want to give your baby the best of everything, right? You may not be able to give your child fresh, homemade foods everyday, but here are the benefits for you and your child when you do make the effort.
More nutritious homemade food is more nutritious than commercially prepared baby foods because it retains more of the nutrients, especially vitamin A and B. This is because the food is less processed. The jarring process necessitates the use of very high heat under pressure. Much more than you can generate when cooking at home. Unfortunately, many vitamins are destroyed by heat.
Some of the baby food on the market has additives and thickening agents including cornstarch, flour, chemically modified starches or “tapioca” (corn syrup, starch). This means your baby is getting less fruit and vegetables and more “filler”. Thus children get less nutrition and you get less value for your money.
By making your own food, you’ll know exactly what your child is eating. You can monitor their diet, and know which vitamins and nutrients are lacking. A study by the San Francisco Chronicle reported that over 40% of children’s calories come from fast and processed foods. Spend your time making your own food, rather than reading and de-coding labels on all those overly processed foods in the grocery aisle.
No Chemicals, Preservatives, Pesticides or GMO’s
Your food will not have anything in it that you didn’t put there. You are able to choose your own high quality organic, non-GMO ingredients to make the healthiest baby food. You’re not trying to preserve shelf life or disguise any of the ingredients in your food, because you’re baby will be eating whole, fresh organic foods without additives and chemicals. Frequently used preservatives include partially hydrogenated oils or trans-fats, which are linked to diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
While sometimes convenient, a big drawback of commercial baby food is that it bears little relation to the real food. Fresh, seasonal food just tastes better. You probably haven’t eaten baby food since you were a baby – because you don’t want or have to. If eating homemade baby food, your child will appreciate real foods from their first bite. These will be the flavors and food items that they will continue to enjoy as they grow. Jarred baby food is not available in every fruit and vegetable, nor is it seasonal. You may miss the opportunity to introduce fruit and vegetable options, which you want your baby to eat later with the rest of the family. Some children get used to bland, smooth, jarred foods and have difficulty being reintroduced to the same real foods and textures later.
Making food gives you control over quantity, taste, texture and expense. You will not have to throw away partially eaten jars of food. Instead you can cook what you know your baby will eat, prolong the life of your homemade food in the freezer, or eat the food yourself.
The cost for making your own baby food is often less than buying commercially prepared baby foods, if you shop smart and cook in larger quantities. For instance a four ounce jar of baby food ranges in price from .60 – $1.20 each, depending on brand and place purchased. However when making your own baby food, and following our tips for creating less waste and buying in-season whole foods, you can actually save on the price. I purchased enough apples for an apple puree for $2 at the farmer’s market, and my recipe yielded 16 ounces, thus my cost is only $.50 per four ounce serving.
No Special Shopping
There’s no last minute rush to the store to buy baby food. You can buy the foods you and your family already eats, so you always have ingredients for homemade food at hand. Create variety from a single, whole food item. When making baked sweet potatoes you can chose to puree some (for baby), cut pieces into soft chunks (for toddler), and leave the rest whole (for mom and dad). Because your homemade purees are made with whole foods, the leftovers can be made into soups, side dishes and sauces for the rest of the family. Honest. You may doubt that because you wouldn’t even consider making anything for yourself from a jar of baby food. That right there, must mean it’s not the best for you or your baby.
Please stay tuned for next week’s post by BITL guest contributing author, Lisa Barnes. Lisa will be sharing baby food recipes!