“Dr. Linda, how can I make homemade baby food?”
“Dr Linda, what is the best way to cook homemade baby foods to preserve their nutritional value?”
- Baking at lower temperatures.
- Pressure cooker.
- Braising in small amounts of fluid.
Meats as homemade baby food:
Make sure you store the meat in the coldest part of the refrigerator.
Use separate cutting boards and utensils for meats than other produce.
Remove the skin, bone and tough parts of the meat before you cook it so you do not have to handle it a lot afterwards and risk contaminating it.
Make sure you cook the meat completely through. Do not give babies undercooked meat, poultry or fish. Cook red meats to an internal temperature of 160F(71C), white meat poultry to 165F(74C), dark meat poultry to 180F(82C) and fish to 145F(63C). Meat, poultry and fish that are not completely cooked may contain bacteria, viruses or parasites that can be dangerous to your baby.
After the meat is cooked, allow it to cool for 10-15 minutes and then grind it up. It is much easier to grind meat when it is warm. Use the broth you cooked it in to thin it out. Using breastmilk or formula to thin it out may cause funny consistency issues when you warm it back up later, especially if you have frozen it.
Take out the portion you are using to feed your baby and then store the rest as soon as possible.
You can store the meat for 24 hours maximum in the refrigerator.
You can freeze the rest in ice cube trays that you have washed thoroughly. Cover the trays and freeze.
Another way to freeze food is the cookie sheet method where you can put the food in 1-2 tablespoon portions flat out on a on a very clean cookie sheet, cover, and then put the sheet in the freezer.
When the cubes or portions have frozen solid, take them out and put them in a container. Label the container with the name of the food and the date so you remember what it is and when you made it.
You can safely store frozen meats for up to 3 months.
Fruits and vegetables as homemade baby food:
“Dr. Linda, can my baby eat raw fruits?”
It depends on your baby’s age.
If your baby is less than 6 months old then you might want to cook fruits (except bananas and avocado). Her tummy may not be able to digest the uncooked fruit.
If your baby is 8 months old and above, no need to cook the fruit.
If your baby is 6-8 months old, try raw fruit and see what happens.
“Dr. Linda, should I peel the fruit or vegetable?”
Whether to peel the skin off or not depends on how old your baby is and how she tolerates the skins. Skin has a lot of fiber in it and can be hard for some babies to digest. I would use the same rule as I would for cooking fruits and vegetables.
If you keep the skin on make sure that there are no pieces in the puree that are choking hazards for your baby.
Preparing homemade baby food from produce:
As always make sure your hands are very clean.
Make sure the surfaces you are working on are very clean.
Make sure you use clean utensils and cutting boards.
Get separate cutting boards for fruits and vegetables and others for raw meats.
Do not store or put uncooked meat anywhere near raw produce or baby food.
Always wash your fruits and vegetables thoroughly in clean water, scrub their surfaces with a brush, if you can, and then dry them off with paper towels. Do this even if you are going to peel the produce. Washing decreases the amount of bacteria on the skin and, lowers the risk of food poisoning.Once the produce is cooked or cut up, use a food processor to grind it up to the proper consistency(see last week’s blog). Do not leave the cooked food out of the refrigerator longer than 1-2 hours maximum.
If you want, you can freeze the produce( as in meats)or,even better, make a small amount fresh every 2 days and feed it to your baby fresh.
It is safe to keep produce purees up to 48 hours in the refrigerator as long as you cleaned them very well before grinding them up.
“Dr. Linda, can I add spices to my babies homemade food?”
Here is a list of things you do not want to add to your homemade baby food:
- Sugar and artificial sweeteners.
- Honey( till baby is 12 months old).
- Excessively hot spices, as they may burn your baby’s mouth.
When you are making first foods,don’t add spices till you know your baby is tolerating the food alone.
Second foods are when you are mixing together foods that you have already given your baby individually.So this is a good time to start experimenting with spices. Adding spices to foods not only makes them taste better, but makes your baby and child a more adventurous eater in the long run. Personally, I added cinnamon, garlic, onions and ginger to my son’s homemade baby food from the time he was 7 months old and he has always been a very adventurous eater.
Eggs as homemade baby food:
Make sure to store the eggs in the main part of the fridge as it is colder than the door part.
Put the eggs in the fridge as soon as you get them home.
Make sure that you cook the egg till both the white and the yellow is hard. Salmonella is a bacteria found in eggs that can give baby food poisoning if the egg is not cooked through.
Serve your baby the egg immediately or put the egg in the fridge to keep till later.
Throw out any cooked eggs left out of the fridge for more than two hours.
The egg white is the part of the egg which can cause the most problem with allergies so make sure that you only give a very small amount of egg white the first time you give it to make sure baby does not have a reaction (see next weeks blog).
“Dr Linda, how do I reheat frozen baby food?”
Always make sure to reheat baby food to a temperature of 165F(74C). Stir it well and check it’s temperature before giving it to your baby.
Do not defrost baby food by leaving it at room temperature or in a water bath, it will grow too many bacteria to be safe. Instead let it defrost in the refrigerator, put the closed container under cool running water, or let it defrost while you are reheating it.
Do not rewarm food in plastic containers. Even BPA-free plastic may have chemicals toxic to your baby. Instead use glass containers or stainless steel pots and make sure to heat to a temperature of 165F(74C).
After you thaw the food use it immediately.
If there are any leftovers in your baby’s dish, throw them out.
If there is some thawed food left over that you did not offer your baby, put it in the fridge and use within 24 hours if it is meat and within 48 hours if it is something else.
My son would not eat food from a jar so I learned to make homemade baby food early on. The questions I have answered here are questions I had ,as well as questions that moms asked me over the years in my office.
I would love to hear your comments and insights about your homemade baby food adventures.