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Making Your Own Baby Food

Making Your Own Baby Food

The correct preparation and storage of baby food is as vital to your baby's well-being as the ingredients are. Whether you’re making your own baby food or purchasing commercially prepared food, these guidelines can help to ensure your child safely enjoys the full nutritional benefit of their food at home. If you choose to make your own baby food, keep in mind that Canadian health experts recommend that baby’s first foods should be iron-rich.

Learn more abouwhy iron is important for your growing baby.

Making your own baby food: How-to

  • Always make sure your cooking surfaces, utensils, and storage containers are clean before preparation begins 
  • Choose fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, and lean meats 
  • Avoid canned vegetables, meat or fish because of their high salt content 
  • If choosing canned fruits to puree for your baby, look for those packed in water or their own juice instead of syrup
  • Thoroughly wash fresh fruits and vegetables. Run cool water over produce before preparation. Don't use soap 
  • Remove any peel, seeds or stems before cooking, then cook fruits (such as sliced apples and plums) and vegetables (such as sweet potatoes and peas) until they're soft enough to mash 
  • Boil or steam produce. When boiling, use the smallest amount of water possible to retain vitamins and nutrients
  • For purees, use a food processor or blender, using small quantities of food and gradually adding enough liquid to obtain the proper consistency for your baby's age. Save the water that you used to steam the fruits or vegetables and use this liquid to add back vitamins and nutrients
  • When using a blender or food processor, keep blending time short. That way you conserve nutrients that may be lost by air exposure
  • If you choose to add breast milk instead of water to your homemade foods, do it immediately before serving and don’t add breast milk to foods that you plan to store
  • When heating food, do so by putting baby's serving in a glass bowl and setting it in a pan of hot water for a few minutes, or by putting it in a microwave-safe dish and heating it in the microwave for no more than 10 seconds 
  • Always stir food to distribute heat evenly. Wait 30 seconds for food that was heated in the microwave. Be sure to test the temperature of the food before feeding your baby
  • Once your baby has gotten accustomed to eating many different foods you can combine purees

Introduce a variety of foods to your baby

You can prepare and offer a wide variety of foods from all 4 of Canada’s Food Groups to your baby. Once your baby has accepted and is accustomed to specific foods, they can be offered often at meals to teach about variety. Below is a list with some suggestions:

Meat and alternatives

Be sure to include meat and alternatives in baby`s diet as a source of iron. Cooked and pureed lamb, chicken, turkey, fish, beef, and veal are popular choices. Mashed eggs, tofu and legumes (such as dried beans, peas, lentils, chick peas, etc.) can also be introduced.

Vegetables

Vegetables of all colours (yellow, orange, green, and red) should be pureed, unsalted and cooked. You may want to try orange or yellow vegetables first (like carrots, squash or sweet potatoes). Babies tend to like these most because they are naturally sweet.

Fruits

Remove the skin and seeds from fruits such as apples, pears, and peaches, then cook and pure. It's not necessary to cook bananas - just peel and mash. If you're using canned fruit, buy fruits packed in water or in their own juice - not syrup. Choose fruits and vegetables instead of juices whenever possible.

Grain products

Grain products such as iron-fortified infant cereals are made specifically for infants just starting solid foods but also provide a good source of iron and other important nutrients throughout baby’s first year. Between 7-8 months of age, your baby may begin teething. And a few teeth are all he needs. Try dry toast or unsalted crackers around this time.

Milk products (from 9-12 months)

Yogurt, cheese, and cottage cheese can be introduced before 9 months. Your baby needs the fat from these foods, so use regular products (not skimmed or partially skimmed). Hold off on whole (homogenized) cow's milk until sometime between 9-12 months of age, once your baby is eating a balanced diet including many iron-rich foods such as, meat, fish, poultry and legumes and iron-fortified infant cereals.

Learn more about why you should delay the introduction of cow's milk to your baby.

Store-bought & homemade baby food storage:

  • Store cooked foods in the refrigerator and use within 48 hours. Only spoon what you need into a serving dish and leave leftovers for another meal 
  • Once the baby's spoon has dipped into the container, you should discard the leftovers to avoid contamination 
  • Spoon baby's portion into a bowl. If you feed directly from the jar, you will transfer his saliva to the remaining food, causing bacterial growth 
  • Refrigerate unused portions of jarred foods, but discard any food left over in the bowl
  • Freeze pureed fruits, vegetables and even meats in ice cube trays and then transfer and store them in polythene freezer bags for 1-2 months (meat, poultry and fish), or 6-8 months for fruits and vegetables 
  • Be sure to label all frozen food with expiry dates
  • Never re-freeze previously frozen baby food
  • Thaw frozen food in the fridge. To speed up the process thaw food in a small bowl inside of a larger bowl of hot water. Thawing food at room temperature can lead to bacterial growth

Important notes

  • As with any food preparation, when making your own baby food, be sure to clean surfaces thoroughly between preparing meat and non-meat products
  • Never place jars of baby food directly into the microwave for fear of shattering 
  • Always test the temperature of foods before feeding them to your baby 
  • Never re-freeze foods that have been frozen before, and never re-heat baby food more than once 
  • Inspect all labels to ensure ingredients contain only foods that can be tolerated by an infant your baby's age.
  • Learn more about making safe food choices for your little one.
  • When purchasing prepared baby foods always check to see that any safety packaging has not been tampered with or removed. If it has, return the food to the store or discard it
  • Do not feed honey (pasteurized or unpasteurized) to infants under 1 year of age
  • Raw and unpasteurized milk and milk products are not safe for babies and young children

If you don't find the information you're looking for, please feel free to contact us for additional support.

 
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