Homemade Baby Food Safety
Making your own homemade organic baby food is one way to ensure that
your baby eats a variety of nutritious, lovingly prepared food. It’s
also economical and environmentally friendly, particularly when you
purchase organic produce at local farmers’ markets.
When deciding to make your own baby food however, there are some
important things to keep in mind to make sure your baby’s diet is safe
Fresh fruit and vegetable meals are easy to prepare using a blender, food processor, or hand food mill/grinder. Many baby supply stores sell hand mills — a convenient, portable tool that allows you to quickly puree baby food, requires less clean-up than a blender or food processor, and is portable. You can also make fresh baby food without any appliances or gadgets by mashing ripe or cooked foods by hand. For instance, bananas and avocados are highly nutritious first foods for babies and their preparation could not be any easier — simply mash them in a bowl with a fork!
In addition to giving you greater control over what your baby is eating, preparing your own homemade organic baby food can also help diversify your baby’s palate. Seek out new recipes and introduce your baby to some adventurous and exotic new flavors.
Here are some precautions to take when you’re whipping up homemade culinary creations for baby:
- Purchase produce that is certified organic to reduce your baby’s exposure to harmful pesticides. Organic produce is not only good for your baby, but also good for the earth, just as purchasing produce at local farmers’ markets is environmentally friendly—shop local whenever possible/support your local agricultural community whenever possible.
- Refrigerate any prepared food you don’t use immediately and carefully inspect it for any signs of spoilage before giving it to your baby at another meal. Homemade foods are not like commercial foods and are not bacteria-free; they will spoil quickly and should not be kept for more than 1-2 days.
- Freezing prepared baby food in single-serve portions is safe, convenient, and time-saving – ice cube trays are great for this! After you have pureed the vegetables or fruit, spoon the mixture into an ice cube tray, cover with foil to prevent freezer burn and nutrient loss, and freeze until solid. You can then transfer the frozen cubes into a freezer-safe plastic bag and thaw single cubes when your baby is ready to eat. Thaw frozen cubes on the stovetop, in the microwave, or in the refrigerator. Never thaw the food at room temperature as this can allow bacteria to grow.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents against home preparing the following vegetables for young infants:
- Collard greens
In some parts of the country, these vegetables have been found to have high levels of nitrates, a chemical that can cause an unusual type of anemia in young infants, specifically those younger than 7 months old.
- Commercial baby food companies are able to screen their produce for nitrates and typically avoid buying produce from parts of the country where high levels of nitrates have been found. Since you cannot test for nitrates in your own kitchen, is it best if you not prepare these vegetables for your young infant. Organic baby food companies offer these vegetables commercially prepared and that is actually the safer option.