With two babies, there is a need for more of everything and even on sale the cost of those little jars of baby food can add up fast when you are buying in duplicate (or more). However, the cost savings is only one reason. Other great reasons to make your own food is that you have complete control of the ingredients, you can choose to use only organic ingredients if you want, you can provide foods that aren’t available in jars and there are no added preservatives or fillers. So why not make it yourself?
While it’s not for everybody, it is really not that hard to do. Making your own baby food does not have to be all or nothing. You can make some of your own baby food and supplement with food bought at the store. When you have twins (or more) you have to do what works for you! Here are some tips on how to get started doing it yourself and which foods are worth it and which are not.
Around 4-6 months you will likely get the ok from your pediatrician to start your baby on solid food. Of course, at this stage, solid is a bit of a misnomer. First foods should run off of the spoon like a liquid. When you are just starting solids eating is more about learning to take food off of a spoon instead of out of a bottle. There are many books and websites available for reference, and of course you should always follow your pediatricians recommendation for allowed foods and order of introduction.
Two great choices for your first attempt are bananas or avocado. YES avocado. It is not sold in a jar but it is a fantastic first food! Pick one of these or another based on your preference. Since they likely won’t be eating much you can make mini batches. A 1-cup size self contained blender is a good choice for these first batches. If you don’t want to buy a separate small appliance, go to the website of your blender manufacturer and look for small jars (8 oz size is offered by Oster).
Start with washing your hands and then, if you are making banana, simply peel it, put it in the blender and puree. Banana’s get thin quickly so you may not even need to add water. Check the consistency. If it doesn’t run off the spoon add a small amount (1 tsp -1 Tbsp) of water and blend again. That’s it, baby food made! Avocado is not much different. Cut the avocado in half, scoop out the flesh and blend with a small amount of water. In the beginning you may also want to pass your pureed food through a fine mesh sieve to make sure there aren’t any lumps. You are now ready to feed your babies. Just put a tablespoon or two into a small dish for feeding and save the remainder in small plastic containers in the fridge for up to 3 days or pour into ice cube trays cover and freeze. You should not save food that has been exposed to saliva.
When you are first starting out use the 4-day rule anytime you are introducing a new food. Don’t introduce another food until you have tried the new one for 4-days. Food choices will depend on your little ones ages. Refer to an online resource like http://www.homemade-baby-food-recipes.com/index.html or a book like Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron.
While making your own food is a great way to save money, there are some foods that are not very cost effective, are more difficult to process, or just very difficult to find. For instance, if you want to stay with organic foods, you may find that it is more cost effective to buy your apples and pears in a jar, because the yield is low, especially when your babies are of an age that requires steaming them first. Green beans and meats can be a bit tricky to get to the correct consistency. Also, depending on where you live some foods may not be available ‘fresh’. For instance, I was unable to locate fresh peas in any of my local markets.
The most cost effective foods to make at home are carrots and sweet potatoes. You can get them at a good price (even when buying organic) and the yield is good. To prepare carrots or sweet potatoes (yams). Peel them (or scoop flesh of sweet potato out after cooking), roast in the oven or steam until soft and then puree. Sweet potatoes take quite a bit of water to get to the correct consistency for ‘stage 1’. Also, if you are freezing the food, make it thick because it will thin out upon thawing.
If you can’t find what you want fresh, it is OK to use frozen fruits or vegetables for preparation of baby food. If you do, cook them (if necessary) from frozen, process them, and feed them within 3 days or put them in the freezer immediately after preparation.
You may find warnings regarding nitrates in vegetables prepared at home, specifically carrots, spinach, beets, green beans, and squash; the concern is that they may nitrate poisoning resulting in methemoglobinemia. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “home-prepared infant foods from vegetables (eg, spinach, beets, green beans, squash, carrots) should be avoided until infants are 3 months or older, although there is no nutritional indication to add complementary foods to the diet of the healthy term infant before 4 to 6 months of age.” Since you are not starting on solids until after 3 months, there should be nothing to worry about.
Once your your twins have tried a variety of new foods using the 4-day wait rule and are eating well, you can also stock up on their favorites by making big batches and freezing it. When the babies are a little older you can start pureeing or finely chopping whatever you are making the rest of the family for dinner. The best part of making your own baby food is that you know exactly what is going into what your kids are eating!