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Making Your Own Baby Food

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After six months or so on a liquid diet, most babies (and their parents!) are thrilled to start solids. But the introduction to real food can be as confusing as it is messy and fun. How to begin? What to begin with? Which foods will my baby like best and which are most healthful?

No doubt about it: Making your own baby food - be it rice cereal or a minted pea puree- is both more nutritious and less expensive than any store-bought box or jar. It's also tastier. No time? Zero skills? No sweat. Making baby food is easy and fast; and anyway, you may as well get used to cooking for your kid. You’ll be packing school lunches soon enough!

What You'll Need

Baby steps to buying organic Buy fresh, preferably organic, fruits and vegetables. True, organic tends to be more pricey — if it isn’t doesn’t fit in your budget, at least try to buy organic versions of the most pesticide-heavy produce: peaches, apples, bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, kale, lettuce, imported grapes, carrots and pears. (Go to FoodNews.org for a printable wallet-size list or iPhone app.) Pound for pound, babies take in more harmful pesticide residues than do adults; but because they eat far less, one organic apple won't set you back much. When it comes to less heavily sprayed fruits and vegetables, try to at least buy local, seasonal produce for your baby.

Can your cans If you want to give your baby a veggie that isn’t in season, choose frozen over canned. Since foods like corn and peas tend to be frozen right after being picked, their nutrient levels will be higher if buy them from the freezer. Plus, the linings of cans often contain bisphenol-A, also known as BPA, a hormone-disrupting chemical that is currently being banned from many made-for-baby items like bottles and formula canisters. Home on the (free) range When the time comes to introduce meat, dairy and eggs, try to choose foods from pastured or free-range animals that haven’t been fed hormones or antibiotics.

Let's eat! For some great recipes, visit SuperBabyFood.com

Equipment

Don't go overboard For steaming the food and then mashing it up, there’s no need to buy a lot of equipment — so you can skip the just-for-baby food steamer or food processor. In fact, you may already have all the equipment you need: A metal or bamboo steamer insert for a pot, plus a food mill, processor, or blender (your least costly option) will work just fine.

Freezer faux-pas For freezing baby food, use an ice cube tray marked #2, #4, or #5 on the bottom (plastics with these markings are considered free of unsafe chemicals). If yours are unmarked, you might want to invest in a stainless steel ice cube tray. Safe storage For storing baby food, use glass containers — such as old jelly or tomato sauce jars — rather than plastic, which may contain harmful BPA.

Next: Getting Started

 
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