Why pay for all those little jars?

Make Your Own Baby Food

by Debra Karplus

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Your little one has cut a few teeth now and is somewhere between four and six months. The pediatrician has suggested that now might be the right time to introduce baby's first solids. Of course, you want your baby to be healthy and well nourished, but you'd like to find an affordable way to feed your baby with a variety of tasty and interesting foods. Perhaps you can make your own baby food.

The disadvantage of using store-bought baby food is its expense.

According to Baby Center, a family can spend $50 to $100 per month to feed their baby solid foods. Have you priced baby food lately? Yes, it sure is simple to pull a few of those little jars off the grocery shelf and toss them into your cart, but over several months' time, this really adds up; at about $1 per 2.5-ounce jar, purchasing baby food in jars is easy but becomes expensive very quickly. Several online vendors such as Amazon.com sell baby food for a bit cheaper, but by the time you have paid shipping, it is still pricey. And, if organic baby foods are your preference, as they are these days for many families, expect to spend even more than $1 per pouch.

The hidden cost of store-bought baby food is waste. If you buy a pack of 18 jars to get the better bulk price, you may be stuck with 17 unused jars if your baby simply does not like the taste of the specific food you purchased. And even if you buy baby food by the single jar and your baby does seem to like that particular food but simply does not have a big appetite, the shelf life of an opened baby food jar is rather short, even after refrigeration.

Besides the waste of uneaten baby food is the collection of all those empty little jars you will acquire over time. They are handy for storing nuts and bolts in your workshop, but after a few months, you will likely have way more than you could ever possibly use. Part of the reason baby food in jars is so expensive is because you are paying for the jar.

Making your own baby food makes sense.

The advantages to making your own baby food are obvious. You can control the quantity of what you make, therefore having less waste. Additionally, you can control the contents, so that sugar and salt and any preservatives can be left out of your homemade creations. You can also make interesting food combinations that your baby will like.

There are several products on the market that can be purchased online in local stores that sell items for baby. Depending on how sophisticated a device you choose, expect to spend about $65 to $150 for a single-purpose kitchen appliance that steams and purees or mashes food for your baby. Some of the more expensive models also serve as bottle warmers.

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You can make your own baby food without any special appliances or gadgets.

If you don't feel like taking on the purchase of a baby food maker, you can still make baby food that your little one will enjoy. You can easily steam any food, such as peas, broccoli, potato or yams, by cutting those foods into small pieces and steaming them in a covered pot or steamer on the kitchen stovetop as you would with vegetables and other foods that you serve to the rest of the family. Once steamed, you can puree it in your food processor or mash it in your blender, or you can just use a spoon or fork to mash it to a consistency that baby can easily chew and digest.

If you have a little one who just wants to fit in with the family, feed himself or herself without eating utensils, and eat what you eat, consider yourself lucky. It makes feeding him or her quite simple. One 11-month-old boy enjoys feeding himself finger foods. At mealtime, his parents put him in his high chair wearing a bib and put his bottle and some finger foods on his tray. He sits in the dining room and eats healthy foods along with the family. Some of his favorites include small pieces of toasted wheat bread topped with some peanut butter, bagels, vegetable crackers, rice cakes, cooked spinach patties, about one-third of a banana, apple slices, and a whole uncut carrot. The quantities he eats are relatively small, and there is little waste, as his family has figured out about how much he will eat at a given meal.

Experiment in your kitchen with some of the foods that your baby seems to enjoy and you will likely discover that making your own baby food is simple and shows no notable increase in your family's weekly grocery bill.

Reviewed April 2017

Debra is an occupational therapist, accountant, teacher and freelance writer. She is a writer for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. She also writes for Grand Magazine, has some items (fiction and non fiction) selling on Amazon.com (kindle), has written several travel articles for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and several articles for freelancewriting.com and volunteers as a money mentor for the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension money mentoring program. Learn more about her at DebraKarplus.blogspot.com.

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