Let’s be honest, it’s easier to buy baby food than make it, and the temptation of those ready made pouches could turn any mom off cooking. That’s why it needs to be easy, it needs to be delicious enough that baby wants to eat it, and it needs to store easily. Here are some tips for those starting out or battling to keep it up:
Know your limits and pick your battles. If you’re a working mom or have three other kids at home, making everything your baby eats from scratch may be taking on too much (at least to start with). So pick your battles – I make all my boys’ main meals but I don’t make homemade finger food recipes such as yogurt drops, and oatmeal biscuits. The twins are like bottomless pits at the moment and they do snack on branded rice cakes, teething wafers and puffs. Do I wish I made my own delicious snacks… yes. But are they being well fed… yes. Babies eat a lot of food which means a lot of cooking/prepping. If you want to start with just making dinner for them, just do dinner – once you get used to it you might be ready to take on more. Its a bit like the New Year body blitz… don’t try and do it all at once!
Be willing to chuck the odd batch. There is nothing worse than slaving over a tasty batch only to find you messed up the recipe or worse – your baby just hates it. Scooping that love-in-a-jar into the trash hurts more than watching Goose die in Top Gun, and its enough to push you over the edge and crack open the Happy Baby Organic – I mean it says its for happy babies so its got to be good. This is what turned me off making my own food for my first born. She grew up on Ella’s Kitchen pouches, but this time round I felt more confident about food and cooking in general so I was ready to give it another go. The rejection is rare and even though it might also feel like a waste of money, it’s a drop in the ocean compared to the savings you make overall. Its also worth remembering, your babe may be having an off day so keep the goods in the freezer and try another day – it hurts less throwing it from the freezer a week later too, time is a great healer.
Use recipe websites. There are loads of great cook books too, but here are my favourite sites:
1. babyfoode.com I love this site and as the slogan says, the recipes are a little more adventurous than most. Twin favourite: ‘Quinoa, Apple, Pear with Raison Puree’.
2. wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com This is a huge site that is extremely popular. Great for first foods and understanding different ways to cook basic ingredients.
3. mummycooks.ie I’ve only found this one recently and it looks great! Can’t wait to try: ‘Babies first Salmon Chowder’
4. kidspot.com.au This site has loads of recipes for all ages as well as all sorts of parenting advice. Twin favourite: ‘Easy chicken casserole’.
Don’t reinvent the wheel (unless you want to). My daughter loved Ella’s kitchen, and Happy Baby makes happy babies, right? So read the ingredients and make your own! I quite often go straight to the baby isle when I get to the grocery store and browse the shelves for ideas. I take a photo of the back of the packet with my phone and head back to the veg to buy my ingredients. Having tried the some ready-made pouches again recently, I guarantee your home-made version will be better and end up including a much higher proportion of the important ingredients… how anyone can manage to make any puree with kale in it which isn’t green is beyond me.
Find an easy way to store and serve. Its one thing finding the time to make baby food but its another making dinner time easy. The ready made food is good to go, no defrosting or scooping into a bowl required, you don’t even need to warm it up because its stored at room temperature. That convenience is difficult to compete with so make your life as simple as possible and find a storage solution that works for you. Here are your options:
- The classic storage method is to freeze in a cube tray and transfer to store in a ziplock bag. Great for right at the start when they only eat a 1oz portion (about one cube) but I personally am not a fan. If you’re making multiple batches you can’t find enough flat freezer space and you never have enough trays, leading to freezing in shifts. So if you want to be housebound all day, inspecting small lumps of vege slush-puppy, go for it. Its cheap, it works, and I only need to defrost a mere 12 cubes every time I feed my twins.
- Do it yourself pouches. I used these for everything when the boys were eating small portions, but now I just use for fruit puree I add to oatmeal and yogurt. They are light and convenient for taking out, you can squeeze straight onto the spoon and older kids can suck straight from the pouch. However, filling them is a bit of a faff and I suspect cleaning the reusable ones is a bit of a pain (I use disposable… terrible I know but I am all about easy)
- Mason jars. When the boys started eating three pouches per meal between them I moved to jars. They come in all sorts of sizes, wash easily and I have the wide neck ones so I can spoon straight out of them. They do take longer to defrost than multiple pouches or cubes which catches me out every now and again, and are heavier to carry around in your bag. However glass is good for those worried about plastic contamination and there’s no land fill issue 🙂
- Purpose made baby food containers. For singleton babies these are great for those first smaller portions, come with lids and tend to stack or clip together in some way so you can fit them in the freezer efficiently. For me they were never really big enough for two hungry boys and I think you may have to spend a lot of money on multiple tubs to store big batches.
So good luck, keep with it and feel like a super-mom… #keepitsimplestupid