If you are like me, you have no idea how or when to use the new instant pot you got over the holidays. I’ve heard you can make soups, yogurt, and even lasagna in it. But if you have tiny tots, you might be wondering, "Can you make baby food in an instant pot?" You probably won’t find a button that says “baby food," but there are some strategies and techniques you can try.
Romper reached out to baby expert Janine Rudin of Birth, Baby, and Family, who says that you can definitely use an instant pot to cook food that is suitable for a baby. She explains that you can easily make baby foods at home that are puréed or mashed down by cooking or steaming your veggies or foods in your instant pot, and then blending or puréeing them in a blender. No matter how much you're making or what recipe you test, Rudin say you should try offering your baby a variety of foods so that your baby gets to try a range of tastes and textures. “I am a fan of babies eating what their parents eat,” she adds, “so when a baby is over 6 months old, they can have what their parents have for meals, just be mindful of sugar, salt, and spiciness.”
Registered dietician, Amanda Capriglione, owner of Food Balance Inc. and the Mommy and Me RD, tells Romper that instant pots are a convenient and healthy gadget for busy moms to use so they can cook for their little ones and still have plenty of time to relax. According to her, instant pots can actually keep food content more nutritious. “Because the food cooks so quickly in the instant pot,” explains Capriglione, “most of the nutritional value of the food is retained.” And as a bonus, she says you can cook a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and proteins in there at the same time to be more efficient. Capriglione adds that babies can consume herbs and spices like mint, cinnamon, clove, garlic, and turmeric, and using different herbs and spices will give your baby food a little extra flavor without adding any salt and sugar, which are not recommended for babies.
Capriglione suggests that the instant pot is also the perfect cooking method to create foods for baby-led weaning, which helps babies learn to regulate their hunger cues early on and gets them to become familiar with different tastes and textures. Baby-led weaning also helps them develop manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination skills, says Capriglione, and is helpful because babies can consume almost exactly the same foods as their families at the family table.
Recipes For Instant Pot has some great baby food recipes on their website, along with some great tips. For sweet potatoes, the website suggested that you can use the pressure cooker function on your instant pot, add six pounds of peeled sweet potatoes with one and a half cups of water, and cook on manual mode for 18 minutes. Once you let the potatoes cool down, you can use an immersion blender to purée them to the consistency you need.
A few tips to remember, as noted by Recipes for Instant Pot, are that the more water you add, the thinner the consistency. You should also think about getting an immersion blender so that you don’t have to transfer to a blender to purée, increasing your clean-up time and effort.
If you aren’t sure how to use your instant pot, make sure to read through the instructions thoroughly so that you can figure out which settings are appropriate for the foods you are cooking. Microbiologist and food safety expert, Irrem Jamal, tells Romper that parents should remember that all poultry and meats need to be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid growth of harmful bacteria, like listeria and E. coli.
There are some great instant pot baby food recipes and ideas on the internet that you can check out for inspiration, too. Thrice The Spice suggested cooking foods like carrots, green beans (using a steamer basket), peas (using a steamer basket), apples, pears, and squash in an instant pot, then you can purée and freeze them into cubes in an ice tray. This way you can just thaw the cubes whenever you need them. There are some safety measures you should follow when thawing frozen baby foods, Jamal warns, including making sure to thaw foods in the refrigerator, on the stovetop, or in a hot water bath. You should never let food sit out at room temperature where it can easily begin growing bacteria spores.
So if you have an instant pot, definitely start experimenting with different fruits, veggies, and proteins to make your baby food. If it’s quicker and easier than other traditional methods, then it’s definitely a winner.
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