Introducing solid food to baby is a momentous occasion, frequently marked by a brand-new bib and a proud post on social media. And when baby dribbles or outright spits that baby food in your face, you will learn about an anxiety-provoking aspect to this new routine: worrying about how to get your little one to eat. Your determination to make homemade baby food may seem like it complicates things, but it’s actually a great way to take charge of your baby’s future as an adventurous foodie, and there are lots of clever baby food making hacks to make the process less labor-intensive, with nutritious and delicious results.
Start by understanding how to safely introduce your child to solids. Once you have the basics down (no honey for babies under the age of one and identifying choking hazards!), have fun with it and know your hacks. Squirt some breast milk into those mashed sweet potatoes. Shove some veggies into the oven to roast while you do a load of laundry. Food is a wonderful thing and now baby can take his or her place at the table – and eating as a family is healthy in more ways than one. Here are nine hacks to help you make it happen.
1Break Out an Ice Cube Tray
Make perfect little portion-sized cubes by freezing baby food it in a tray. This way you can have a tasty and nutritious meal on hand. But you can do yourself one better and, per Baby Prep Sundays’ suggestion, use them as an exploration tray so your little one can exercise their free will by plucking up the most appealing foods.
2Have a Roast
Debbie Koenig, author of Parents Need to Eat Too, swears by roasting veggies to make baby food, explaining that roasting coaxes delicious flavors and textures out of any veggie, pairs well with lots of recipes, and mashes up easily if you’re feeding it to a younger child. Not to mention they double as dinner for the adults at the table.
3Add (Breast) Milk
Weaning your baby may start with an introduction to solid foods, but that doesn’t mean your breast milk can’t be an ingredient in the dishes you’re cooking up. Adding some of your expressed milk to purees provides baby with that happily familiar taste, and aid baby’s digestion.
4Mesh It Up
Mesh feeders address a multitude of mommy concerns, like potential choking hazards and getting fresh food into your baby’s routine while on the go. Pop a chunk of fruit or some veggies into the mesh bag, snap it shut, and give it to baby to suck on – only teensy tiny pieces can make their way through the mesh. If baby is teething, you can freeze the bag ahead of time to create a soothing frozen treat.
5Replace That Rice
Rice cereal has long been thought of as the classic choice for introducing baby to solid food. But recently, moms are looking at alternatives. For one thing, it’s been revealed that rice contains arsenic (yikes!), not to mention it’s bland, boring, and no way to turn your little one into a foodie. Try using a nutritious alternative like barley or oatmeal.
6Add a Little Flavor
Parents may feel hesitant to add spices and real flavor to baby food, but it’s a great way to develop your child’s palate. Plus, breastfed babies are already enjoying the spices you eat via your breast milk. Mint is a great way to both freshen up a puree of peas and add a digestive aid, too.
7Add Sweet to Savory
It’s important for babies to develop a taste not only for sweet favorites like bananas and carrots, but for savory greens such as spinach and broccoli. Adding some pureed apple to your baby’s savory soup will create an enticing blend of both worlds (and introduce some fiber into the meal, too.)
8Get Out the Grown-Up Food
Parents reports that babies become more adaptable eaters when they eat foods prepared for the whole family. The Baby Led-Weaning movement is all about letting your child explore finger food-sized portions of grown-up foods themselves instead of being spoon-fed purees and cereals. If you’re nervous about that idea, then include baby by blending adult meals for them to eat.
9. Don’t Always Hide the Veggies
Every mom fantasizes that her child will excitedly embrace a plate that’s bursting with nutritious foods like broccoli, spinach, quinoa, and other wholesome tidbits. And while it’s important to make variety a staple of your baby’s diet starting from early on, let’s not kid ourselves. Sometimes you’re going to want to sneak those veggies in. You can have it both ways – encourage your little one to scarf down that broccoli, but secretly congratulate yourself for sneaking cannellini beans into that yummy mac and cheese.