People always ask why I bother teaching parents how to make their own baby food when I’m selling my own. My answer is always the same: whether they buy some from me, or make their own, the goal is getting kids to eat more “real” food. I feel there is a (very big) difference between roasting & pureeing your own sweet potatoes and buying them in a jar that is shelf stable for two years. I don’t think they qualify as sweet potatoes anymore. So here’s why you should consider making your own…
Reason #5) Teach baby to like a variety of flavors
Here is your opportunity (your first and one of the best) to expose baby to a variety of flavors that will set the stage for a lifetime of healthy food choices. Pack as many flavors, spices, and textures you can into the first few months. Take advantage of this stage, because it starts to diminish the moment they start walking. For more on this, check out: How to Grow a Broccoli Lover.
Reason #4) Better control what baby eats
There is no better way to know where you food comes from than when you make your own. (I don’t know who grew those peaches in a jar?). Chose organic food whenever possible (see the Dirty Dozen) and support your local farmers if that’s an option in your area. We live in a toxic world, so if you have access to good, clean food for your baby, then everyone wins.
Reason #3) Taste varieties that aren’t available on the shelf
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen baby food with roasted kohlrabi, blood oranges or Chioggia beets on the supermarket shelves before. Whether you’re in the Bay Area or not, hopefully have access to heirloom varieties of foods that you can introduce to baby, and most likely these are not foods available in any pouch or jar. And if you refer to reason #5, you’ll understand why it’s so critical to introduce them to so many flavors from the beginning.
Reason #2) Teach your kids what food should taste like
There’s something a little unnatural about the baby foods on the shelves. The flavors are bland, the colors are muted, and the texture is super (super) smooth. The bright flavors are lost during the high-heat processing method or from sitting on the grocery shelf for extended periods of time. Set up your own baby food tasting experiment. Sauté up some carrots and compare them to three different jarred varieties. Which one tastes more like a real carrot? This is your chance to teach kids what real food should taste like.
Reason #1) Re-establish a connection to food
I’ve saved the most important reason (from my perspective at least) for last. As a culture, we’ve lost our connection to food. Most people think food comes from the grocery store and have no concept of how it came to be there. Take this opportunity to involve baby in the whole process: have them watch you roast sweet potatoes, smear it all over their face so they can taste the flavor, give them a cooked chunk to squish in their hands, and do anything to involve them in the process of transforming raw ingredients into their food. Take this time to teach them that real food something to appreciate.
You’ll see from this list that nowhere have I mentioned saving money. Some companies have taken the position that making your own baby food is less expensive, and while that may be the case with some ingredients, most parents I speak with aren’t drawn to making their own baby food for that reason.
They just want to feed their kids the healthiest food possible, and on some level, they know the answer doesn’t come from a jar.
Interested in reading more? Check out a Few of My Favorite Posts which has information on best baby food equipment, making your own grain cereals, healthy fats for babies, and more…
Jill Epner is the owner of Little City Kitchen Co. is a Bay Area company making handcrafted, organic, frozen baby food with an International twist. Follow us on Facebook, or sign up to receive our newsletter with information on starting solids & making your own baby food.