Baby food is a specially prepared meal, that caters to the requirements of babies. It serves to provide the new born with necessary nutrition, required for development at such a tender stage. Baby food needs to be rich in proteins, vitamins and minerals like Iron. The teeth of babies are undergoing the initial growth phase and hence food given to them needs to be moist and soft, so that the babies may swallow or chew them without any difficulty.
Baby food helps the infants to gradually develop chewing habits besides likeness for food. Only one type of food must be introduced at a time. Based on the baby’s likes or dislikes for food items, their regular menu must be decided. Mothers enjoy the process of selecting food menu for their new born babies. Boiled or soft fruits are known to be great starters for babies. Some of these are apples, plums, pears, apricots, peaches, bananas, berries etc.
Vegetables to be provided to baby food include carrots, green beans, peas, butternut squash, broccoli and sweet potatoes. Other baby foods are cereal based and sometimes combined with mother’s milk. Baby food may be classified into stages, according to the age in months of the baby.
Stage 1 baby foods
These are the foods which are introduced for the first time to infants i.e. babies who are only 4 months old. These baby foods are mashed or liquefied soft food and hence are thin and runny in constitution. So, stage 1 baby foods could be digested quite easily by the tiny digestive system of the baby. These also have the least chances of causing any allergic reactions to the tender baby’s system.
If the infants do have sensitive tummies, it is advisable that the fruit ingredients undergo steaming first. The process of steaming helps to break down sugars and fibers so that they could be easily digested. Prior to steaming, the fruits are divided into fine slices or chunks.
Cereal based baby food
It requires a simple preparation technique with help of only rice and water. It has many variations, with respect to starting ingredients. The basic preparation steps are the same in all cases.
- Ground brown rice(powdered rice)
- 1 cup water
Step 1: Boil water in a saucepan. Add powdered rice to boiling water with constant stirring.
Step 2: Simmer the solution for 10 minutes, with constant whisking.
Oatmeal cereal and Barley cereals are also prepared. Oatmeal cereal contains rice, ground oats and a cup of water. Barley cereal food has one fourth cup of ground barley and a cup of water.
Fruit and vegetable puree
Fruits are multi-mineral and vitamin rich sources. Their pulpy and soft constitution renders them easily digestible by the babies’ tender tummies. When the baby just starts to eat, he or she must be fed only with thinly pureed fruits and vegetables. Fruits like apples, peaches, bananas, avocado or vegetables like carrots and broccoli are some good options to make fruit purees.
Mash the fruits with knife and spatula or in a food processor. Vegetables may be boiled first and then finely sliced and mashed for chopping and final puree formation. Puree is served with a tiny spoon.
Made out of delicious Gala apples, applesauce is a baby’s favorite. It is a rich source of vitamin and fiber.
Step 1: Core the apple and cut into slices.
Step 2: Place the slices or chunks into a container, which contains water enough to cover the fruity layer.
Step 3: Steam the solution, so that it becomes tender. Ensure the adequacy of the water level. So, the fruit slices are immersed in water.
Step 4: Mash the apples using a slicer to make puree of desired consistency.
Step 5: Place into a proper appliance for pureeing
Step 6: Add cereals for thickening and obtaining desired consistency.
Step 7: Add cinnamon for enhancing flavors.
Avocados have smooth consistency and creamy texture. Omega-3 rich avocados are the most nutritious in pureed form.
Step 1: Peel out a ripe avocado. Do not cook it. Slice it lengthwise.
Step 2: Take out the pulp and mash with a fork. Alternatively, puree in a food processor.
Stage 2 foods (for 6-8 month old baby)
These baby foods mostly contain combination of two or more fruits and vegetables. These are thicker in constitution and do contain some texture. The quantities of fruits or vegetables used in baby food preparation can be gradually increased. Stage 2 baby foods thus help babies get used to lumps of food inside their mouth.
It is a rich source of vitamins like Vitamin A, C and beta-carotene. It has a high percentage of minerals like Potassium, Phosphorous and Calcium.
- 1 pound dried apricots
- 2 cups of fruits(grapes, pear)
- Water or apple juice
Step 1: Boil fruits and liquid in water and simmer the solution for 10 minutes.
Step 2: Add cereals for thickening and providing better consistency.
It is provided in mashed form with other fruits like apples or bananas. If the berries are unripe, they need to be steamed.
Step 1: Mash the blueberries and other fruits in a blender.
Step 2: Combine all the purees to form a mixed puree.
Baked apples as baby finger food
Step 1: Core the apple
Step 2: Place a little bit of butter on the inner side of the cored apple. Sprinkle some cinnamon over the apple.
Step 3: Place the apples in a pan with one inch of water to cover fruity layer.
Step 4: Bake for 30 minutes in an oven at 400°F.
Step 5: After they are baked, cut the apples into pieces to serve as finger food. Alternately, mash the baked apple.
Mango based baby finger food
Mango is soft and can be introduced as Baby finger foods.
In order to make mango based finger food, remove the centrally placed seed and cut into dices or chunks, which are fed to the baby.
Papaya is a vitamin and mineral rich fruit. Slices of papaya, mixed with mother’s milk can be provided as baby food to a 6 to 8 month old baby.
Pears, plums, peaches and nectarines
Step 1: Peel the fruits and cut it into small portions. Avoid the little seeds.
Step 2: Steam gently the portions so that the fruits become soft and tender.
Step 3: Pour the contents in a food processor or blender for obtaining a smooth mixture. Alternately, use a fork for mashing the contents.
Step 4: Add cereals for thickening.
Stage 3 baby food
This includes baby food for babies who are about 8 months old. These baby foods are generally quite chunky.
Fruit and vegetable cubes
Fruit cubes are prepared after boiling and mashing the boiled fruits. Vegetables are not with soft interiors, but they can be boiled for softening them. After the puree from vegetables or fruits is formed, it can be frozen and then micro-waved.
- The fruits or vegetables must be nicely cleansed with a lot of water. Boil the fruit or vegetable. Food must be soft for a baby who has just begun to eat.
- With the help of a mixer, change the consistency of food item as desired. Strain the food for removing any peels.
- Pour the pureed dish into ice cube trays. Cover them with plastic wrap. Then refrigerate them. The frozen cubes can be put in tightly sealed bags.
- Put the cubes for thawing in a microwave.
Prunes or dried plums
Prunes are a rich source of minerals like Potassium, Phosphorous, Magnesium and Calcium. It is also a rich source of Vitamin K and fiber.
Step 1: Place dried prunes in warm water, so that the fruit absorbs a lot of water, making it plump. This process also facilitates steaming of prunes.
Step 2: After prunes are sufficiently plump and soft, toss the prunes in a blender or food processor, forming a puree.
Step 3: Add liquid(water) to the mixture. This provides the right texture, so that it is easily digestible.
Sweet potato cubes
- Wash, peel and dice a small potato to form small cubes, having size of 1 inch.
- Then place the cubes in a microwave safe dish to be cooked for 5-7 minutes.
- Once cooking is done, the treated food is mashed with a fork. Then some spice like Cinnamon or ground ginger may be sprinkled over potato cubes.
- Store the potato cubes in a properly covered utensil. The potato cubes may be preserved in a refrigerator for 4-5 days.
Peas based baby food
Peas are rich sources of vitamins and minerals like Calcium, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorous. Peas are used to make baby food with the help of steamer basket, frying pan, food processor and mesh strainer.
Step 1: Place fresh peas for steaming in a steamer basket in a pan containing water.
Step 2: Steaming is done till the peas become tender. Separate water and tendered peas.
Step 3: Use a blender or food processor for making puree.
Step 4: Add pea water to puree to get desired consistency.
Step 5: Pass through mesh strainer.
- Baby food must not be too dilute, specially a stage
- It is better to add bits of solid food to help babies learn chewing.
- At one time, single food type must be selected for providing as baby food.