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4 Tips For Making Homemade
Baby Food

Graduating from a milk and formula diet to solid food is a major milestone for your baby. But, of course, babies can't jump from liquids to hamburgers and hot dogs; their digestive systems need to be eased into solid food, starting with a few good purees. Buying little jars of mushy food is an option, but you can just as easily make your baby's food at home. With homemade food, you know exactly what's in every bite your baby takes and it's easy on the wallet. Here are 4 tips for making homemade baby food.

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For vegetables and some fruits, you have to cook them until they are very tender (almost overcooked) so they can easily be mashed so your baby doesn't have to chew. Boiling or roasting the vegetables is fine, but steaming and microwaving are the best methods for cooking. When you boil vegetables, nutrients leach out into the water where as steaming allows the veggies to maintain most of the necessary nourishment for your baby. Roasting tends to dry out vegetables, which makes it difficult to puree, but you can always add water to make up for the loss of moisture. You may be skeptical about microwaving, but it's actually the best way to cook food to be mashed up. It takes little time and it leaves most of the nutrients intact.

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Blenders and food processors make mashing and pureeing food very easy, but they can be expensive. However, they are worthwhile investments if you plan to make food ahead and store it. If you plan to make food for baby as you go -- which is good for providing your baby with fresh food -- you can use a fork to mash root vegetables like potatoes and carrots. It's not as difficult as it seems because you only need to mash enough to fill a baby's belly, which is quite small. Another option is to use a kitchen gadget like a potato masher or ricer. They're both easy to use, easy to clean and don't require electricity.

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It may be tempting to season your baby's food, but you should resist doing too much too soon and steer clear of the spice rack for now. Baby taste buds aren't conditioned to the flavors and spices adults are and they are extremely sensitive; every taste is a surprise. When you're introducing your baby to solid food, it should be bland. When you want to start giving your baby spices, do it one spice at a time but only use the tiniest bit. Salt and sugar should be used minimally and with caution as your baby's body can only process them in very small doses.

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If you plan to make large quantities of baby food, you may need to make space in your freezer rather than your storage cabinets. Because there are no preservatives in homemade baby food, it can spoil within a few days in the refrigerator or on a pantry shelf. When you make your baby food, store it in individual servings in small freezer-safe containers (2-oz. or 4-oz. containers). This method allows you to heat up only the food you need rather than heating a large quantity to be refrigerated and reheated again.

The Lakeside Collection has dozens of products and ideas for raising a happy and healthy baby. From bath toys to sun safety tips, look to Lakeside to make every day with baby a little more enjoyable.