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The day your baby starts eating solids is an important milestone, and you can help set him or her up on the path to healthy eating by making your own. “Going from all milk or formula to real food can be daunting,” says Lisa Courtois, senior product manager at Béaba, a baby-food product company based in Hoboken, New Jersey. “Puréeing fresh, local, and organic produce and meat—rather than using canned baby food—lets you know exactly what’s in the food your child is eating.”
By the time your baby is five or six months old, it’s a good idea to put your baby’s high chair next to the dinner table when your family eats. If he watches your mouth as you chew or reaches for food, he’s probably ready to try some purees.
“There’s no reason not to make your own baby food because it’s so cheap and easy,” says Sara Preville, 33, mother to two-year old Nicholas and soon-to-be mom to baby number two. “It’s not like making a whole other meal for your family, because making baby food calls for using only one ingredient. Just get a hand blender and mash up veggies like a sweet potato or fruit like an apple, and add water if it’s not getting creamy enough.” A soupy consistency is best for babies just starting out on food, while you can mix up chunkier textures for toddlers.
Having the right gear makes whipping up fresh, delicious baby food even easier. If you know you’re going to want to make your own when you’re pregnant, try registering for a baby food maker or blender for your baby shower. “I use Béaba's BabyCook, and it’s super easy because it lets you steam, purée, and reheat the food all right in one small machine,” says Bindu Swami, 33, mother to 22-month old daughter Ava. “We also have the Vitamix blender, and that’s good if you want to create bigger batches of pureed foods that you can also serve for the rest of your family at dinner.”
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If you don’t want to cook baby food every single day, try doing it in bulk one to three times a week. “You can make big batches all at once and freeze individual portions in ice cube trays,” says Sara. “One sweet potato could make five or six individual baby-food portions, so that batch can last you all week!”
Make storing baby food easy by getting containers that have leak-proof lids so you can throw them in your diaper bag, and that can also be used for warming. Remember to make sure that any baby food containers you’re using are BPA, phthalate and lead free, recommends Courtois.
“Small, 6.5-ounce glass containers, like the kind Libbey makes, are a great alternative to plastic containers, and you can easily pop off the lid and place it directly into the BabyCook to defrost your food,” says Bindu.
Don’t leave baby food containers on the counter to defrost because dangerous bacteria grows most rapidly between 40 degrees and 140 degrees—and room temperature is right in the middle of that range. “Protect your baby from illness by putting items in the fridge to defrost if you don't have a baby food maker like the BabyCook,” says Courtois.
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