09 Dec The Benefits of Homemade Baby Food
Almost everyone I know (almost) enjoys cooking for themselves and understands the benefits of cooking at home. So why is it that when it comes time for new parents to cook for their babies, they suddenly become overwhelmed? There’s no denying that a lot of time and careful preparation is required when cooking solids for a baby at home but I believe the real reason most parents dread baby food prep is because it doubles the amount of cooking that a household must now undertake. I think what new parents don’t realise, and I being one of those first time mums who didn’t know this, is that the initial food preparation stage is short lived. If a baby starts solids at say 6 months of age, by the time they reach 8-9 months of age they become capable of eating what the rest of the family eats (with slight variations). So the very arduous task of cooking, pureeing and freezing baby food, which is exactly what all first time parents imagine when they think baby food, is really only temporary.
In this blog post, I wanted to share with all new and not-so-new parents my views on why it is beneficial to cook at home for your children. It really isnt as tidious as we think and you certainly don’t need to have all of that fancy machinery or peculiar ingredients of which the names you cannot pronounce, all that is needed is a little bit of planning!
While some may disagree, cooking food for your children at home is much more economical that buying packaged products. Don’t forget that when consumers purchase readymade products, they are not only paying for the contents but for the manufacturing, marketing, advertising and packaging costs as well. Cooking for your whole family at home can be a more cost effective method of providing nutrition that is needed, especially if you know what to look for. One mistake most people make is that they plan meals which they will cook before they purchase the ingredients. This becomes an issue if the ingredient happens to be low in supply or out of season, in which case the costs may outweigh the effort that it takes to make that meal. A handy hint is to buy produce based on what is in season, readily available and on sale.
Buying in bulk, washing and freezing raw foods in advance can save a lot of time and money especially if the produce is purchased when on sale. Cooking in large portions and freezing for later use is another practical option to further cut out food preparation time. Most foods freeze very well and if frozen straight after cooking, can lock in all the nutritional contents of the food. In a time poor world, saving time and money can make all the difference.
You control what goes into the food
Starting solids can be very overwhelming for new parents. With an already full schedule, the thought of meal preparation can cause some to resort to packaged products. However, it is most imperative that the first foods introduced be of highest quality and most carefully prepared. The first couple of months of solids are a trial and error approach where babies are tested for food intolerances. Starting this process with packaged baby foods can be an inaccurate way of testing for allergies as it would be unclear whether the child is reacting to the main ingredient or the variety of additives and preservatives that go into producing a product with lengthy shelf life. Preparing baby food at home means parents can control what goes into each meal. When testing for allergies, each food type can be individually prepared, salt and sugar levels can be reduced or eliminated as preferred and local/organic produce that is in season can be used. There is a sense of reassurance that everything will be ok when parents know exactly what they are feeding their new little eaters!
Avoid Allergic Reactions and food poisoning
As mentioned in my point above, knowing exactly what goes into each meal prepared for babies gives parents the reassurance and control to avoid ingredients that may trigger alergic reactions. Food labelling and listing of ingredients in packaged products are in place for this reason but requires parents to spend the time reading all the information before making decisons on what to buy, this can become a tedious task.
Food poisoning, more often than not, occurs when food is prepared by someone else. Parents want the best for their children, it’s just nature’s way of ensuring our babies grow up happy and healthy, so every care is taken at home to ensure the food is prepared carefully and hygenically. Avoiding synthetic substances and bacteria that can cause reactions is best controlled in a controlled environment and cooking at home gives parents that control!
I’m not saying that parents need to completely cut out all packaged products or readymade meals. There will always be a time when this is the only option for parents (e.g., when travelling) so it is not to suggest that you must rule out buying readymade meals altogether but rather the importance of incorporating baby meal planning and prepartion into your everyday cooking schedule. If you don’t cook in general, baby food preparation is easier and a great place to start!\\
About the Author
My name is Fareshta and I’m a first time mum to Jacob, a bubbly 10 month old boy. I am currently on maternity leave from my usual occupation as an HR Consultant. I’ve always had a passion for cooking and food and am a believer that good food is the most important part of a healthy lifestyle. I love teaching Jacob to eat well and want to inspire other mothers to teach their children the importance of eating well from an early age.