Preparing your own food for your baby is easier than you think. Not only is it more cost effective, but more importantly, you know exactly what ingredients are used which seldom is the case with prepacked convenience meals.  If you opt for making your own baby food – consider these tips – it will diminish the stress, simplify the steps and generally make mealtimes happier for you and your baby:

It goes without saying, but always buy the best quality, freshest foods possible and when introducing food to your baby, always start with vegetables, then fruit, followed by grains.

Vegetables are easy to digest and alkaline so there’s less chance of tummy aches and other reactions to the new food. Grains on the other hand are harder to digest and they have a high concentrated carb content. Ideally you should only introduce them in small amounts after your baby’s digestive system is more developed and used to digesting food.

Steam the veggies till tender and mash them. A small food processor or blender is a great investment and will make preparing your own food that much easier. Don’t add salt or sugar to any of the meals. You can change flavours using different herbs in time, but for now just serve the veggies plain. If you don’t have time to steam veggies every day then do it every second day. Alternatively, prepare in bulk and freeze in ice cube food trays, defrosting with each meal as needed. It’s not ideal to microwave baby food so try and avoid it. This method of cooking completely changes the structure of the cells of the food which will cause your baby’s immune system to become extra vigilant.

Fruit should always be served raw. The cooking process renders fruit very acidic which can cause rashes and tummy aches amongst other uncomfortable symptoms. It also makes the fruit far sweeter than in its natural form which means your baby might not want to eat raw fruit at a later stage. The extra sweetness also sets the pace for a sweet tooth. Remember – babies are not born with a sweet tooth – they develop one because of how we feed them. Paw paws and ripe bananas are easy to mash but other fruits can be put in your blender. Apples don’t blend easily on their own but in combination with other fruits it works well. Fruit should be prepared on the day and if it’s going to be served much later, you could add some blueberries which serve as antioxidants and prevent the fruit turning brown. Do not keep blended fruit for the next day; discard and make fresh.

Within a few months babies are able to eat pieces of fruit so the blending period is short lived.

When it comes to temperature, serve food no warmer than room temperature and use caution when heating. Frozen food can be defrosted overnight in the fridge or in a container or hot water. Once again – avoid using a microwave to heat your food and always test the temperature of the food yourself.

Whatever’s left in your babies bowl should be binned – don’t keep it for the next day because your baby’s saliva, which will have been introduced on the spoon, may cause bacterial growth.  Store any extra food in the refrigerator for up to two days – preferably in glass jars.

Have fun with different combinations of food and give your baby his or her own spoon because they love to feed themselves.

Contributor: Desi Horsman, Clinical Nutritionist

Image Cred: Hemsley and Hemsley