When to start
Most moms I know say their pediatricians suggest starting solids around 4 months old. Many recommend waiting until at least 6 months to start solids, some even say it is good to delay solids (more common for breastfeeding) for the first year of life. Every baby is different. Some babies may be physically able to handle at 3 months, while others maybe not be ready until after 6 months old. Another thing to keep in mind is that solids take more effort than offering the breast or mixing up a bottle of formula. So, while the first few times of watching your little one make one of her/his first steps in growing up, it adds more work and takes more time when you are feeding 3 meals per day. For all of the reasons listed above, some parents choose to let their baby take the lead with Baby Led Weaning.
Homemade vs. Store Bought
Healthier - I heard some say that jarred baby food has extra sugars and are not as good for baby, but I tried to find "blueberry buckle" for a baby shower game and I could not. I couldn't even find something with sugar as an added ingredient. Almost all food I could find was the main ingredient (peas) and water. So, I am not so sure about this one. However, it is always nice to know exactly what is in the food you feed your baby and if you make it yourself, you know.
Easier - When I hear sceptics of homemade baby food, they think jarred food is just so much easier and they just don't have time for homemade. Homemade doesn't have to be hard. If price is not an issue you may want to consider a Beaba Babycook. You can cook and puree all in one step. I did not want to invest in one, so I am not sure if they are worth the price or not. Otherwise, you can spend an afternoon cooking and pureeing foods and freezing them in ice cube trays. Wholesomebabyfood.com has a great chart for what freezes well and what does not.
Cheaper - I think that making your own food is hands down the cheapest option. If you buy the store brand baby food (target, meijer, walmart) you are still paying about $.50 per package of food. If you stock up on meijer "buy 10 for $10 get the 11th item free" weeks, you can get bags of frozen veggies for $1.
What did we do?
We started solids around 5 months, he had all of the signs of being ready, and at the time I was willing to do anything not to have to add formula back in to his diet.
We did a bit of both homemade and store bought.
- First, I fell in love with the wholesomebabyfood.com website. So much so that I copied and pasted the best of it into a work document and had it printed and bound so I could have a copy in my kitchen. I wish I could share it, but I don't want to violate any copyright laws and they didn't respond to me when I asked permission.
- I got 6 ice cube trays at the dollar store (2 for $1)
- I stocked up on frozen peas, broccoli and green beans, fresh carrots and squash and large jars of apple sauce because they all freeze well.
- I would spend an afternoon once per month to cook, puree and freeze food and then put the frozen cubes in a zip lock bag.
- If I remembered, I would get enough food out for the next day and put it in the fridge so it would be thawed and ready.
- We would use The First Years/Learning Curve Take & Toss Bowls to send food to daycare.
- The cubes were great because you could mix and match for different flavors.
- I would buy the packaged store brand peaches, pears and mixed fruit from target or meijer (cheaper and bigger than gerber) since they did not freeze well. We also bought boxed baby cereals and used them to thicken the baby food.
Did you make your own baby food? Why or why not? Have you used a Beaba BabyCook? Was it worth the investment?