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The Pros and Cons of Homemade Baby Food

By Casey Slide

Baby FoodI remember being really impressed a few years back when my friend was telling me about how she made her own baby food. She told me how she bought fruits and vegetables, cooked them, pureed them, and froze them in an ice cube tray. It never crossed my mind that someone could make their own baby food. I didn’t have kids at the time, but once I had a baby of my own, I learned how common it was to make baby food at home. I was all excited about doing it, but once I started, I realized that there were some definite downsides as well.

Here are the pros and cons of making your own baby food to help you decide if it is right for you and your family:

Pros of Making Your Own Baby Food

1. Saves Money

You can save quite a bit of money by making your own food. It’s estimated that making your own baby food costs you a third of what it costs to buy commercial baby food. A 4 ounce jar of baby food costs about $0.50. If your baby eats 3 jars a day, that equates to $45 per month. Now, if you were to make the same amount of food, it would only cost you about $15 which would be a savings of $30 per month. So if your baby eats 3 jars per day for six months, that is a savings of $180! I imagine that your baby will eat more than that so you should expect even greater savings. There are a lot of baby costs so you need to save where you can!

2. It’s Fresh

Who doesn’t like to eat food right out of the oven? Or fruit at its peak ripeness? You can make your baby’s food right before he or she eats it. It is not processed, doesn’t sit in a jar while being shipped to a store, and doesn’t wait idle on a store’s shelf for long periods of time. It’s fresh! I have definitely noticed that my baby is more likely to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables. There are even some foods, such as bananas, that he won’t ever eat out of a jar but will gladly consume if it’s fresh.

3. More Nutritional

Jarred baby food is heated to exceptionally high temperatures when it is being processed, which depletes some heat-sensitive nutrients. Also, homemade food has no preservatives or added fillers.

4. More Varied

There are no limits on what you can do. Commercial baby food only comes in so many varieties, but when you make your own, the possibilities are limitless. I have made my baby kiwi, cauliflower, and zucchini. I highly doubt that you can find those in the baby aisle of your grocery store! When you make homemade food, you can also puree it to the desired thickness. If your baby is older, you may want it to be thicker and more chunky as your baby transitions to finger foods. You can also make your food organic if you choose.

Cons of Making Your Own Baby Food

1. Time Consuming

I know that people say it is not time consuming, but it is time consuming! Before you even start cooking, you need to do a little research on what your baby can eat, where to buy it, and how to prepare it. The next step is going to the store to buy the food. If you are wanting organics, it may be a challenge to find what you are looking for depending on where you live. I live in an Atlanta suburb, and I have had a difficult time finding some organic fruits and vegetables.

Preparing the food is also timing consuming depending on what you are preparing. Bananas are great because all you have to do is smash them up. However, if you are making carrots, they need to be peeled, cut, steamed, and finally pureed. That takes a lot of time! And when you have a baby at home, time is one thing that you do not have a lot of.

2. Might Not Taste Good

I have made quite a few mistakes in making baby food over the past few months. Several times I have made food from fruits that were not ripe. The end result was very tart goop that even my dogs wouldn’t eat. There is also the added risk that your baby might just not like that particular food. If you make a whole batch of it, and then your baby doesn’t like it, you may be stuck eating it yourself.

3. Difficult to Take On the Go

If you are out and about with baby during the day, the baby is going to need to eat lunch at some point. I suppose you could pack up food that you made, but it sure is easier to just open up a jar.

Final Thoughts

For some families, buying commercial baby food is probably the better way to go. If both parents work or go to school or are busy with activities or other children, it would be hard to find the time to mash up food for the baby. On the other hand, if you are on a tight budget, it might be worth spending some extra time in the kitchen so you can spend less money and give your baby some healthier food options. And there is always the option of doing a combination both which is what I do. I dedicate one week a month to making as much food as I need for that month. I find that if I spend an hour each night that week, I am able to have plenty for my baby. I also buy some food so that I can have my baby try new foods without committing a bunch of time to making it myself. That also allows me to have jars when I am out and about.

Do you make your own baby food? Do you have any good recipes to share?

(Photo Credit: jencu)

Casey Slide
Casey Slide lives with her husband and baby in Atlanta, GA. She graduated from the University of Florida in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and worked for a prominent hospital in Atlanta. With the birth of Casey’s son in February 2010, she decided to become a stay-at-home mom. Casey’s interests include reading, running, living green, and saving money.

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Comments

  • Olivia

    I think you make it much more complex than it has to be. By the time my kids were eating solids, we just ground up what we ate at the table. (With a small hand crank food grinder). I didn’t make special things for them. I don’t salt much when I cook, so that wasn’t a problem. It tasted fine, they ate healthy food, there was good variety,it was fast and easy. It doesn’t have to be complicated at all.

    • Casey Slide

      Olivia, thank you for your feedback. That is a great idea! I will have to try that with my son.

  • http://www.retequilts.com Rete

    Ditto on what Olivia said! By the time kids are ready for solid foods, they’re usually reaching for whatever mom’s putting in her mouth — I found even a crank was unnecessary, just smashed a bit with a fork. Once the baby is eating table food regularly, taking a bit of whatever you’re cooking out before you season, making a small bowl of oatmeal with a little formula or milk in it to thin it a bit, easy peasy! Eventually they’re going to be eating exactly what you do anyway. (or mostly — once my daughter was toddling around, she was snatching black olives from the holiday table, something I would never have given her on my own – she loves them!)

    • Casey Slide

      Thanks for your feedback, Rete! I will need to try that with my son.

  • http://gomelrun.blogspot.com Melyssa

    I wanted to try and do the best for my newborn. There was no question that I was going to breastfeed. And I knew I wanted to make his food from the beginning. I searched on some websites for suggestions, but I kept it easy. I steamed/boiled the food and then smashed them with a fork or put them in the blender. I did taste it myself. I think the whole thing did work out pretty well. It actually wasn’t as time consuming as I thought it would be, and I felt much better about what I was feeding my child.

    • Casey Slide

      That’s great, Melyssa! Thanks for sharing your success story.

  • Julia Brown

    Great article! I can’t talk about baby food without mentioning my VitaMix! It made everything SO much easier. I’d just bake some sweet potatoes, put them in the Vitamix…and then had baby food! I put the food in those small Glad containers that are the perfect serving size for babies. When heading out for the day, I’d grab one from the freezer and it was usually defrosted by the time we needed it. Glad to know I saved so much money! More reason to do it again next time around!

    • Casey Slide

      Great idea to use the Glad containers for going out! I’ll have to check out VitaMix. I currently use one of those Magic Bullets that they always advertise on tv. It is okay. The infomercial makes it look much better than it actually is.

  • http://change-is-possible.net Heather

    Another con to pre-done food is that they all have some amount of PBA in them from the lids.

    • Casey Slide

      Great point, Heather. Thanks for sharing!

  • Julia Stell

    The only baby food I bought jarred was carrots. Supposedly there is concern on the nitrate content of soil if you are buying regular carrots at the store, not sure how true that is.

    But everything else we made. And with our second, she insisted on solid food only after a few weeks so I just started cutting up whatever we were eating really tiny. It was much less work than making the purees. Even if I was going to puree stuff, I would set aside veggies from whatever we were having for dinner that night before it really seasoned and then pureed that instead of making batches.

    I loved making their food and getting to try different combinations. I am excited this baby will be ready for solids in the middle of the summer when I can get fresh fruit and veggies locally at the farmer’s market!

    • Casey Slide

      I have heard the same thing about carrots, but I still have made them. My son won’t eat them even though at one point he would eat jarred carrots (now he won’t eat any carrots at all.)

  • Jennifer Aldrich

    Great article! I’m in my second trimester with my first and am debating on purchasing a “baby food maker”. I read some great reviews on the William Sonoma brand, it steams and smashes in the same container. Thanks for the article (and all the feedback ladies)!

    • Casey Slide

      Congratulations to you on your baby, Jennifer! Having the right equipment is really important when you are making baby food. I am sure that William-Sonoma’s is top-notch! There is also the Baby Bullet that is quite popular, although I don’t know how well it works. Good luck to you, and let us know what you end up using.

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