1. It's the best nutrition for the best start.
- Why start babies out eating canned food that has been sitting on a shelf? As adults, we strive to eat well and we attempt to get our children to eat well also. It just makes sense to feed the smallest members of our family healthy food, too. It helps build healthier eating habits early in life, which can then be carried into childhood and adulthood.
2. It's more appealing.
- Have you ever smelled the baby food in the jars? Even just looking at it makes me cringe. Who knows how long that stuff has been on the shelves? Even babies eat first with their eyes! Your own baby food will smell exactly how it should and it will taste much better! Have you ever compared the food in the jars? Some of the SAME food (in different jars, but the same brand) is even different colors! It just makes sense that if you want your baby to like fruits and vegetables, you should give them what tastes better.
3. It's a fun activity to do with your baby!
- Sling your baby up and let them help. They love the bright colors of the fruits and vegetables, and it teaches them about food. Many experts agree that a great way to get kids to eat food is to let them help with the growing and/or cooking process. Why not try this early on? Of course, take safety precautions when using equipment and knives. But babies can still help "pick" things out at the store or pick homegrown food, unpack the food when you get home, watch you mash the food (for example, if you use a fork), and "help" you spoon it into freezer trays. Babies learn a lot when able to interact with their environment!
4. You know exactly what is in your food and how it's prepared.
- Your baby food is 100% fruits, vegetables, meats, or grains, with the addition sometimes of a small amount of water or milk. You don't have to worry about fillers that may be added in other baby food, and you can feel better about the safety of your food (follow all safety precautions, of course!).
- Some baby foods contain extra ingredients - oftentimes, called "fillers." A very popular baby food website says right on the website that their purees do not contain added starches, sugars, or salt - however, while looking at one of their meat selections, "corn starch" is right on the ingredient list! Even if it is used as a thickening agent, it is still added.
- How fruits and vegetables are prepared can affect the amount of nutrients found in them. Steaming, for example, is a much better way of preparing food. Generally, the less time spent cooking the item, the higher the nutrient content. The same goes for the amount of water added - the less cooking water used, the less chance nutrients will leach out in the cooking water. The more processing that is done, the more nutrients that are lost. I'm not sure I've ever seen on any baby food websites exactly HOW the food was prepared - but, I think it is safe to assume that your baby food would contain a higher amount of nutrients.
5. It costs less!
- Making your own baby food is much cheaper per ounce. When I can, I will get into the cost factor. However, it is hard to compare the direct cost, because sometimes commercial baby foods have added starches, water, or other ingredients. Since homemade food is mostly 100% fruits, vegetables, or whatever you use, it's not a direct comparison since added ingredients are oftentimes cheaper and enable compaies to stretch their dollars. But even with the addition of ingredients to make their product cost less, it is still cheaper to make your own.
- Here is an example: One package of sweet potatoes I looked at cost $0.99 for 5 ounces; about $0.20 per ounce. The sweet potatoes that I used ($0.99 per pound) cost about $0.06 per ounce. Of course, this will change depending on where food is bought, whether or not you use organic produce, if items are on sale, etc. Please keep in mind that this is not a direct comparison because water is added to many sweet potatoes bought at a store and I am using the cost of the sweet potato I used only. This is just an approximation.
I'm sure there are many more reasons why - this is by no means a complete list!
Next post: Equipment!