How to prepare food for babies safely and naturally
If you are concerned about how to serve your little one the food he or she needs, with the right hygiene and the right methods, then here are a few tips to follow while preparing food for your baby!
The nutrition that your baby receives during their first few growing years will act as building blocks for their health for the result of their lives. While breastmilk is just what the doctor ordered, particularly for the first six months of their precious lives, you will soon have to introduce your baby to solid foods. A baby food chart of what they need to eat from day one to the first one year is highly essential. Baby food preparation goes beyond just choosing the right food to feed your little one – you need to keep a watchful eye out for the type of kitchen equipment that is used and make sure everything is sanitised and sterile. Follow our guide to prepare homemade baby food safely.
If you are wondering how to make baby food at home, but are worried about the task at hand, start small. You can start with store-bought baby food and supplement it with some nutrient-rich foods like mashing a ripe banana or avocado. If your little one responds well, you can make homemade baby food that consists of mashed up superfoods like blueberries, spinach, broccoli, beetroot, mango and papaya.
As a rule of thumb when preparing homemade baby food, look for fruits, vegetables and grains that are in season and stay fresh for longer. This way, the entire family will be able to enjoy nutritious food, and you can save on time and money.
Safely preparing baby food at home
The first and foremost thing you need to be careful about is keeping your baby safe from harmful germs. As a newborn, your baby’s immune system is still developing making your little one susceptible to multiple infections and diseases. Counter this by ensuring your homemade baby food is prepared using only well-scrubbed dishes, utensils, cutting boards, counter-tops and of course, produce. Here are a few more tips you must keep in mind before starting your baby food preparation.
1. Clean thoroughly
Wash, peel and thoroughly scrub your fruits and vegetables. Be extra careful about seeds and pits in the produce. If you are using fruits and vegetables that grow underground or quite close to it, take care of where you buy them from and how well you clean them – many of these fruits and vegetables contain the spores of Clostridium botulinum – a harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning in your little one.
2. Be aware of temperatures
When preparing baby food at home, ensure you cook all the food until it is extremely tender, but don’t overdo it. Boiling water is at an extremely high temperature that can cause otherwise healthy food to lose their nourishing properties. Instead of boiling all your food, try steaming and microwaving your fruits and vegetables in some water to retain the minerals and nutrients in them. Remember to ensure that all the food you give your baby is properly cooked. Your baby’s stomach will not be able to handle digesting undercooked food.
3. Stay away from sugar and salt
Your baby’s taste buds are still developing – their sweet tooth hasn’t been activated yet, and they can’t distinguish if food has salt or not. Try to prepare your baby’s food without either of these elements, at least until their first year. Experts advise preparing your baby’s portion first and setting it aside before adding in any extras for the rest of your family. If you would like to add a little bit of flavour to your homemade baby food, opt for healthy spices like cinnamon, that perfectly complement sweet potatoes, carrots, fruit and a host of other foods.
4. Freeze for convenience
The great thing about preparing baby food at home is that you can start ahead and freeze the remaining in small portions in ice cube trays. Once frozen, you can store the frozen cubes in clean air-tight freeze-safe containers for later use.
A few more tips to follow
- Always wash your hands with soap and warm water before beginning preparing baby food at home. If you have to feed your baby in between handling raw meat, fish or eggs, re-wash your hands thoroughly.
- Be sure to wash and clean your utensils, equipment and countertop as well. Today there are a number of sterilising machines you can use for your babies’ bottles and other cooking utensils.
- Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Never mix the two and remember not to leave food at room temperature for more than an hour.
- While preparing food at home, use a fresh spoon each time you taste or wash the spoon in between tastings.
- When in doubt about food’s freshness, it is advisable to throw it out. Never take a chance with your baby’s stomach.
How to properly store your baby’s food
Homemade baby food in the form of purees can last up to 4 days in the fridge and up to a maximum of 3 months in the freezer. When removing homemade baby food from the freezer, remember to thaw it overnight in your refrigerator. Alternatively, you can do the same in the microwave the next morning – just remember to use the “Defrost” setting instead of “Cook” and be sure to mix the puree at regular intervals and test the temperature on your hand before feeding your baby.
Another critical point to keep in mind is that bacteria thrive in the mouth. So when feeding your baby, remove a portion of the frozen puree in a separate bowl for your baby’s meal. Any spoon used to feed your baby cannot touch the reserved puree as it will cause contamination.
Buying store-bought food
There are several varieties of commercial baby foods available that are both nutritious and time-saving, particularly if you are a working parent. Commercial baby food provides the perfect balance and supplements to your baby’ diet with controlled and consistent nutrient content. This is especially useful if your baby is lactose or gluten intolerant, or suffers from other allergies.
If you’re still worried about introducing commercial baby food into your baby’s diet, consult your baby’s healthcare provider and visit mfine to talk to some of the country’s best paediatricians.