The Benefits of Homemade Baby Food
Truth: Not all parents have the time or the inclination to make their own baby food—and that's A-okay! But if you've been considering becoming a master baby food chef, here's a little inspiration to get you motivated.
Homemade Baby Food Benefit #1: Making baby food is affordable
While it does take more time to prepare homemade baby food than to pop open a jar, it’s often cheaper to make your own. For instance, a 4-ounce jar of banana baby food costs roughly $1.00, whereas a 4-ounce banana costs $0.19.
Homemade Baby Food Benefit #2: Less exposure to heavy metals
In the last few years, there have been several reports of toxic heavy metals being found in commercial baby food. While the levels found have been relatively small, exposure should still be minimized. The FDA is working on doing a better job of monitoring and regulating heavy metals in store-bought baby food, but right now, it’s still nearly impossible to know which ones are totally safe and which aren’t. DIYing your baby food helps because you know exactly what’s going into your baby’s tummy and you’re avoiding heavy metals that can get into baby food from food manufacturing and packaging. (Learn more about lead in baby foods.)
Homemade Baby Food Benefit #3: Making baby food is healthy
When compared to homemade baby food, store-bought baby food is higher in sodium and sugar, according to a 2017 study. On top of that, further research has shown that popular infant food pouches contain significantly more sugar per serving than jarred baby food. This is, well, jarring since babies do not need any added salt or sugar to liven up their meals. Instead, they need to experience the natural flavors of food in order to develop a diverse and healthy palate. That said, as your baby progresses through eating a greater variety of food, it’s totally okay (and smart!) to brighten their meals with healthy add-ins, like a sprinkle of cinnamon in mashed butternut squash or crushed garlic in whipped cauliflower.
Homemade Baby Food Benefit #4: Baby gets exposed to more flavors and textures
Store-bought baby food is quick and convenient, but their flavors are often vastly different from homemade baby food. For one, research shows that many store-bought baby foods that claim to be rich in dark green vegetables, actually don’t contain much at all—and they’re often sweetened with fruit puree, which distorts the flavor. This is important, since repeated exposure to the likes of kale, spinach, broccoli, and more is key for helping babies learn to like these flavors. Beyond exposure to green leafies, making baby food gives you more control over offering lots of different flavors and textures early, which can help little ones develop food preferences in the future—and, fingers crossed—hopefully reducing the likelihood of picky eating.
Homemade Baby Food Benefit #5: Baby eats what the family eats
Sharing a family meal—with everyone enjoying the same foods—is a wonderful benefit of making your own baby food. Remember, there’s no need to buy different foods for your baby. Simply grocery shop for a variety of fruits and vegetables, making sure that the version your little one gets is appropriately prepared. That includes removing Baby’s portion before you add salt or strong seasoning. At the same time, consider opting for fruits and vegetables that you might not typically buy. This way, the whole family is trying new foods together!
What next? Check out our easy-as-can-be quick start guide to making your own baby food!
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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.