Reasons to Make Homemade Baby Food – And Why to Ditch the Store-Bought

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Is your baby about to hit the 6-month mark? Are you considering your options for healthy foods to start your little guy or girl on? Should you go organic? Are you deciding between buying commercially bought foods or making it yourself?

The first year is the most important years in your child’s development. It is at this time that many of the development foundations are built. Everything you can think of starts here. The sounds they learn in the first year are the ones that will stay with them in their native language(s) for the rest of their lives. Likewise, what foods you feed them in this timespan will form the eating habits that they keep for years to come. If the first foods you feed them are sweet and fatty, they will develop a strong preference and even an addiction to sweets and fatty foods (1).

If you are considering your options for your budding connoisseur, here are some reasons to make homemade baby food instead of buying.

Why Make Your Own Baby Food?

There are a great many reasons to make your own baby food at home. The first and most important reason for me was having total control over the ingredients. I have been on a mission to keep sugar away from my daughter as long as I can. Now, I know it is a losing battle in the end. But the first year is mine to choose what she eats. Whether she likes it is another story entirely. But besides sugar, I wanted to keep all the preservatives away from her too.

The second reason is that baby food is expensive. Even stating that seems like an understatement especially organic baby food. On average, a 4 oz. pouch of organic baby food costs about $1.75 on average at the grocery store. On Amazon or someplace like Costco, you can buy it in larger amounts for a little less (around $1.36 on average) which is much better. The jars, of course, are a little cheaper but much harder to travel with. The jars usually cost about $1 at the store and $0.75 online. Although that might not seem like much, it really adds up over time especially since your hungry little one will go through at 3 of those a day if not more depending on what stage they’re at and whether or not you are doing any kind of baby-led weaning or whole foods. Of course, you could buy non-organic food and it’ll be cheaper but I would highly advise against it. Conventionally grown fruits and vegetables contain a scary amount of poisons (herbicides, pesticides, etc.) and young children are especially susceptible to these toxins. If you can’t afford to go completely organic, at least consider buying organic with the “dirty dozen” types.

A third reason to make your own baby food is that homemade baby food is more nutritious. The process by which baby food can keep on the shelf is the same as canning food: sterilization. That means the food gets cooked at very high temperatures. In that process, most of the nutrients get cooked out of the food. Research has shown over and over again how nutrient-deficient commercial bought baby food is and children raised only on store-bought baby food (2). Many of the store-bought brands have higher amounts of sugar, salt, and fats than foods prepared at home and with half of those having food claims to the contrary.

The fourth reason is that homemade baby food is more flavorful than the pre-made stuff. Have you ever tasted commercially bought baby food? It is pretty gross at worst, bland at best. You really think your kid is going to like that any better than you do? I try out every one of my daughter’s baby foods before I give it to her and they taste great. In fact, I occasionally throw some of her leftover fruit purees in my yogurt or oatmeal. You can also get creative with your mixes and add spices for a little extra flare. I’ve put in cinnamon, cardamom, oregano, basil, cumin, garlic, and many others to give her variety and she loves them all. Check which spices are safe for your baby’s age and have fun with it!

The fifth reason is making food at home is better for the environment. Just think of all those packages that get thrown away. And that doesn’t include the packaging and gas it took to get those products to the grocery store, the distribution warehouse, and so on all the way back to the manufacturer.

But the last one is the most disturbing of all.

Heavy Metals Found In Commercial Baby Food

I wasn’t planning on sharing baby food recipes here for a little while longer but then I was informed about a frightening discovery that was published just last month.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning.

A few days ago I was at a playdate with a new friend and her little boy. We were sitting in the grass on a beach towel giving our kids snacks. As I was giving my daughter some of her puffs, my friend asked me if I had heard about the report that came out recently on high levels of heavy metals found in baby food. I told her that these were the organic HappyBaby puffs as though that would exclude them from what she was talking about. Isn’t that why we buy organic foods for our families and ourselves? To mitigate the pesticides and other poisons that can leave residue in and on our food.

She told me that those puffs were on the list. And in fact, a large number of organic baby foods were on it for that matter. Part of me was shocked that this was even an issue and part of me wasn’t. Part of me that was surprised thought there must be strict regulations or at least some governing over baby food. There isn’t I find out later.

The part of me that wasn’t is the reason why I’ve tried to minimize commercially made food for my little girl to begin with. But there are only so many hours in your day and we can’t do everything. So I thought a few snacks to save me some time was a minimal sacrifice to make and I even made sure they had no added sugar in them for good measure.

After I left my friend I immediately looked up that article she was talking about and I was very upset at what I found (and still am as I write this). The organic HappyBaby puffs were on the list and in fact, was one of the highest in containing heavy metals. Ironically, the non-organic Gerber Lil’Crunchies were completely safe. If that isn’t a lesson in life, I don’t know what is.

If you’d like to read the entire Consumer’s Report for yourself, go here.

Paving the Way For a Healthier Future

The foods we eat are so important. With the numbers on children and adolescents with obesity and other health issues constantly rising, it is becoming more clear how important these first foods are in our children’s lives. My daughter was started on spinach, broccoli, and other vegetables for a few months before I started any fruits and it has made a difference I think. She loves to eat her veggies and there is rarely a food war at mealtimes. In fact, the first time she ate a banana she didn’t like it or anything else similarly sweet. That has changed since then, of course, but she doesn’t prefer sweets at the exclusion of all else.

I’ve discussed with you the “why’s” to making homemade baby food. But what about the “how”? Fear not! I won’t leave you hanging for long. In my next post, I will go over how to make organic baby food at home. The only thing you need is a blender.

I hope you found this post helpful. If you have any questions or information I didn’t address that you’d like to add, please leave a comment below and I will get back to you soon. I look forward to hearing from you!

12 thoughts on “Reasons to Make Homemade Baby Food – And Why to Ditch the Store-Bought”

  • Fantastic. This a must read for all with baby’s. I can say my wife and I read this and looked each other and said definitely. We just found out we will be having a new little one coming in our lives and we are going to be doing this when it’s time for baby food. As you pointed out you control the ingredients and sugar being tops. There are some many chemicals added and the price alone is enough to say no. Thank you so much Tina for helping our family to grow and stay healthy.

    • Hi David! Congrats on the news! That’s wonderful and exciting! I want to have another if I can.

      I’m really glad you read this then. I was really upset when I looked at the Consumer Report about the heavy metals. I am working so hard to keep her diet as healthy as possible. She has even had to deal with a few failures as far as baby food but she is such a good sport about it. I picked the HappyBaby puffs because they were organic and no cane sugar which is almost impossible to find. The funny thing is I was always more suspicious of the Gerber cheese puffs she loves than the puffs which she likes but isn’t her favorite. Well, she knew better than me!

      Thanks for reading and I’m really glad you did!

  • I have five kids. The youngest of these is almost 9 years old now. They were all babies at one time. And we had to feed them. We were making homemade baby food before anyone thought about what is in the food we feed our kids. We did it just to save money.

    It defiantly saves a lot of money. It is also very smart so you know what is in the food you are giving your baby. Excellent information. More people need to know this and take care to do the right thing.

    • Hi Todd! Thanks for taking the time to read my post and leave a comment. It is appreciated!

      My primary motivation for making food started because I wanted to keep her from sugar as long as possible. It was a happy coincidence that it would save us money. It became part of the reason I bought my Vitamix when I did. I’m truly glad I did. I thought the sugars were bad enough but now heavy metals…And I thought I was doing the right thing. Now I know better. Lucky for me she was only eating those HappyBaby puffs for the last 5 months. And she never ate them all as she likes her Gerber crunchies more. Lucky for me she doesn’t like sweets that much. I’m still upset about it but at least it was only the puffs. Of that I’m grateful.

      I want to get this information out to as many people as I can. This is just terrible.

      All the best,

  • Hi Tina!
    What a great post!
    We are just hitting this mark now and going to venture down the road of solids!
    I made all of my own baby food for my first baby – and it was hard work but so worth it!
    I have started loading my freezer with some simple foods to start this one on.
    thanks for your great information

    • You’re welcome, Montana!

      If you didn’t read the Consumer report, the worst ones were anything with rice or sweet potatoes. And that includes any store bought rice and sweet potatoes too. Just keep those two things out of your baby foods and they should be ok. I’m glad you read this before you start feeding your little one solids. Good luck with that by the way!

      All the best,

  • Thanks, Tina, for all the good information. I agree with you completely about baby food. If you can make your own, it’s so much better for the baby. When my kids were babies, I don’t remember buying much baby food. I always made baby food out of what we were eating, with all the vege’s and good stuff. They loved it! My blender got a lot of use! I love the way you started giving your baby girl vege’s first. She is going to be one healthy girl. I’m kind of surprised by the organic puffs. It goes to show, you just can’t be sure what you’re getting anymore. I really enjoyed reading this article.

    • Hi Lynn! Thanks for visiting and taking the time to leave feedback.

      My blender gets used at least one time a day too. Between making baby food, smoothies, and other meals; it is probably the most used small appliance in my kitchen. I think starting her out on vegetables was the right thing to do. I just fed her cooked chard last night for the first time and she loved it. Which came as a surprise to me because it is very bitter tasting. The only vegetables she has outright rejected is asparagus and Brussel sprouts but she will everything else so far.

      And like you I was completely surprised by the organic food that was on the list. I really thought I was being safe about my choices and organic foods were more carefully vetted or something. Now I know better. I’m glad you found the post helpful.

      Thanks again for visiting!

    • Hi Laura! And thanks for visiting! And yes, we do need healthier foods desperately. Or at least more time in our busy days to make food at home.

      All the best,

  • Hi there Tina!
    I am doing my paternity leave right now and I have thought the same about the commercial baby foods.
    My son don’t even like them all that much, so I am sometimes tricking him to eat it.. It feels wrong and I don’t want to do it anymore.

    I am going to start making my own baby food! If you have any tips (maybe in the next article?) I am very grateful!

    Continue the great work, Tina!

    • Hi Gaute!

      I’m so glad you read this article. Definitely start making baby food if you have the time. It is incredibly easy to do and all you need is a steamer basket, ice cube trays or pouches, and a blender. My plan is to post my next article on how to make baby food so check back in a few days!

      You are very fortunate that you have paternity leave. It’s very rare in the US but a few companies will include it. Maternity leave is pretty rare too. At least paid maternity leave. It’s a shame too. Both parents should be able to take some time off to care for their newborn without suffering financially in the process.

      Thanks for visiting and I hope to see you again soon!

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