Deciding to make or purchase store-bought baby food can be a tough choice for parents. For me, I enjoy handpicking the fruits and veggies that go into my baby food. On the other hand, the convenience of being able to grab a pouch (or jar) of food is priceless. Yet, like anything with children, you don’t have to have an “all or nothing” attitude. In fact, in the homemade baby food vs. store-bought debate, I think using both can be beneficial for a lot of families.
Some fruits are extremely easy to mash up or puree. Bananas and avocados are two fruits I almost always make homemade. In addition, even if you purchase an organic banana, it is usually only about a quarter. A store-bought version is at least twice as much. Thus, this is a no-brainer decision for me. If the homemade version is easier and cheaper, then I say go for it. In addition to bananas and avocados, I also make homemade sweet potatoes for my kids. To me, there is just no comparison between the taste of a fresh, baked sweet potato in a puree.
Regardless of the contents, most pre-made baby food options are the same price (from one manufacturer and same stage). Whether you get bananas or pears, the price is the same. Bananas may be inexpensive. However, I bought organic pears which were sometimes $1 each. For me, when I purchased the baby food on sale (which was almost always), it was less expensive than buying pears and making the purees myself.
Homemade baby food is often hailed as more nutritionally rich. In addition, according to a study from the U.K, “Commercial baby foods don’t meet infants’ weaning needs …. and they are promoted for infants starting at an age when all they need is breast milk .” However, in general, I think you have to focus on the ingredients. Food intended for babies is supposed to be free of added sugars and salts. Simply because it says “for babies” on the package, doesn’t mean it’s good for your child.
Time is of the Essence
When my son was born, the manufacturers had come up with the pouch baby food (Yes, the person who invented those convenient pouches is a genius). My son really liked an organic apple, raisin and quinoa blend. Cooking apples, raisins and quinoa and blending it to the right consistency simply wasn’t worth the time. Thus, with some of the fancier stage two blends, I decided to go with store-bought. Can you make all of the fancy blends? Of course. If you are talented in the kitchen and enjoy coming up with new baby food blends, I say why not? For me, I was spending so much time in the kitchen (sanitizing, chopping, cooking), I felt it was taking me away from family time.
Homemade for Stage Three and Beyond
I was never a fan of stage three baby food. I tried a few kinds with my daughter. However, by this time, my kids were almost ready for finger foods. Thus, I simply got in the habit of making unsalted chicken, steamed veggies and cutting everything up into wee little pieces or mashing it up. Since I was already cooking dinner, it made sense to make the same food for everyone. According to Jennifer Shu, MD, “If you’re really concerned about what your baby’s eating and don’t have the time to make your own baby food, focus your attention on what they’re eating once they begin table foods…. It’s really a very short window of time when they are eating purees.” You might find that you eat healthier if you are cooking for babies and toddlers too!
Whether you are buying or making baby food, you should focus on quality ingredients and the health of everyone in your family.
More from Melissa:
Kids and Car Seats: Buckle Up No Matter What!
Ouch! Dealing with Granulation Tissue After Childbirth
Four Superfoods to Add to Your Children’s Diet Now