Homemade baby food is easier than you think

Staff reports
Making homemade baby food means you're in control of what goes into your little one's stomach.

By Jennifer Davis

GateHouse News Service

Easy, affordable and much better for baby; there is no downside to making your own baby food.

"It was easier than I thought it would be," said Tabby Dorsey of Sparland, Ill., who made homemade baby food for her firstborn son, Caleb, while working full time. "I just chopped it up, steamed it and pureed it. It was easy. My mom would come over on Sundays and we'd make big batches."

Dorsey found freezer-safe trays with lids online -- "essentially ice cube trays," she says -- that were the perfect serving size. "I thought about it when I was pregnant because I didn't like all the preservatives (found in baby food)."

Dorsey says she and her husband, a pharmacist, knew they wanted their son to eat only organic food.

"I would get a pound of, say, organic pears. It was a lot cheaper than buying organic baby food," she said.

All she purchased, equipment-wise, were the trays and a cookbook: "The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler." Her mother bought her an emulsion blender, and everything else she already owned.

"They tell you to use a food mill, but I didn't have one," said Dorsey, noting that the emulsion blender even pureed organic chicken and beef.

The 'green' route

Dorsey's cousin, Shawna Farris of Morton, Ill., was similarly inspired to make her own baby food with her third child, Charlie.

"It was something I wanted to try. We were already going the 'green' route anyway, with cloth diapers. And I make my own cleaning supplies. This just seemed like a natural fit," said Farris. "Of course, it's easier to just open a jar of baby food, but this is so simple. And you just feel better giving it to your child. You have control over what you're feeding him, and it saves money. From one sweet potato, you might get eight servings."

Dorsey found the hardest thing was getting the right consistency for her growing son, who was quickly ready to move on to real food.

"It was hard to get the texture he liked. That's why I stopped," she said.

Dorsey also said she added leftover baby food to spaghetti and macaroni and cheese.

"It's a good way to sneak in those veggies that they may not get otherwise," she said.

Beyond the first months

Today's emphasis on healthy eating and organic food has led to a number of homemade baby food cookbooks. Many of them, such as the newly released "Cooking Light First Foods: Baby Steps to a Lifetime of Healthy Eating" by Cooking Light magazine, venture beyond baby's first months and offer healthy recipes for toddlers as well.

"All my friends thought I was crazy," said Dorsey.

But an aunt supported her, assuring her it was easy.

"That was probably 30 years ago when she did it, and it was probably to save money. I'm very happy I did it.

"If it's important to breastfeed, I would think it's important to make sure all the food they have is healthy. It's the same idea. I liked that the food I made retained its flavor and color. (The broccoli) was actually green, not brown-green."