By Heddi Nieuwsma
My 7-month old is eating solid foods now, and I’ve mostly been feeding him homemade baby food. With my first son however, we primarily served store-bought food. About the time we introduced solids, I was heading back to work and didn’t feel like I had the time or energy to make it myself. As he got older we used a food mill to convert our regular meals to a finer texture, but for those early months we used store-bought food.
This second time around, I enjoy making and serving homemade baby food. We still supplement with store-bought foods because of their convenience, but I often prefer the homemade stuff. Even though grocery stores offer many different kinds of baby food, including organic options, my second son is eating a larger variety of foods—including cauliflower, parsnips and zucchini—at an earlier age than his older brother.
Is homemade baby food that much cheaper than store-bought food?
Does homemade baby food really taste any better than store-bought food?
For both these questions, I think the answer is, “it depends.”
- Cost: Yes, the cost to purchase a bag of sweet potatoes is certainly cheaper considering the number of servings you can prepare. At the same time, you have to consider the time needed for preparing, steaming and to puree. Store-bought food is certainly more convenient, and especially easier when away from home.
- Taste: In my opinion, there are some foods where store-bought doesn’t differ that much from the homemade versions (e.g., sweet potatoes). Although, I do think a generic store-bought “squash” doesn’t taste as good as my homemade butternut squash, for example.
Overall, I believe whichever option you choose for your baby is the right decision, whether store-bought food, homemade purees or both. As long as your baby is healthy and getting the nutrients/vitamins they need, does it really matter? I think it’s really about parents’ personal preferences and needs and what their babies are willing to eat!
Homemade Baby Food Resources
The links below are for resources I’ve found to be helpful. If you have additional info or advice to share, please leave a comment below.
- Homemade Baby Food – Make it Safely: Valuable food safety information from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Introducing solid foods
- Solid Advice on Introducing Your Baby to Solid Foods: Guidance from Lowell General Hospital’s online Health Library.
- Ages and Stages – Switching to Solid Foods: Recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- Solid Foods: Parents magazine’s website has an age-by-age guide to starting solid foods, along with recipes and other helpful info.
- Start Fresh: Your Child’s Jumpstart to Lifelong Healthy Eating: A cookbook from Tyler Florence. Some recipes are pretty self-explanatory. For example, do you really need a recipe for how to steam and puree vegetables? However, he offers up some interesting flavor combinations (e.g., parsnip, pear and fig puree), as well as foods for older kids and families to share (e.g., butternut squash mac ‘n cheese).
- The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler: A friend lent this to me when my first son was a baby. It includes recipes recommended for kids from 4 months to 4 years.
- Weelicious: Blogger Catherine McCord has baby food recipes for the 6-9 month and 10-12 month age groups, along with recipes for toddlers and the entire family. She has a great recipe for sweet potato biscuits!