As someone who loves food and loves to cook and bake, one of the things I was looking forward to most about becoming a parent was making my own baby food. That probably sounds ridiculous and totally nerdy, but it's true. Though I can't really afford to eat all organic, I try not to eat a lot of highly processed and artifical foods, and I usually make things like salad dressing, cakes, sauces, etc. from scratch.

So obviously it's important to me that my son also gets the best quality, most wholesome food we can afford as well. And that means making it myself, so I can control both the ingredients and the process. Now that our pediatrician has confirmed our son's readiness for solids, I love it as much as I thought I would. And my four-month-old has yet to refuse a single food. Here's what's working for us: 

1. The organic balance. As I mentioned before, I'm not Mama Moneybags. I'd like to feed my son all organic foods, but when it doesn't fit my budget, my goal is to at least avoid the the non-organic versions of the "dirty dozen." Most of these are items with edible or no skins like apples, peaches, and strawberries. I also try to buy organic if the item has thin skin, even if it won't be consumed. That means that Abel's avocados and bananas probably won't be organic, but his carrots and sweet potatoes will be.

2. Know that you can make all of your baby's food. Until a couple months ago, I had no idea that I could make my son's rice and oatmeal from scratch--I thought that he would get homemade fruit and vegetable purees, but that we would have to use boxed baby cereal. But after a little research I discovered that not only can I make these from scratch as well, but that it's ridiculously easy. Just process the grain into a powder, simmer for a few minutes and you're good to go. And you know what? They are freaking tasty. I keep scraping the leftover "baby" oatmeal out of the pot for myself.

3. Invest in a few good tools. I originally thought that dedicated baby food makers were silly and I had no interest in owning one. Then my husband and I saw the Baby Bullet infomercial and we had to have one. With the steamer and the blender itself, I've literally been able to make a week's worth of food for my son in less than 15 minutes. Of course, you don't need a Baby Bullet or a Baby Brezza or any other pricey system. If it's not in your budget, you can certainly use a regular pot and blender or food processor. You might also want to purchase some baby food storage containers or a few extra ice trays. And don't forget to register for any tools you might need--one of your culinarily inclined friends may very well love the idea.

4. Batch cook. Batch cooking is a huge time saver and because infants don't actually eat very much, it takes very little effort. Last weekend I cut a large organic sweet potato up, steamed it until tender, popped it in the blender and it yielded at least a two weeks' worth of tasty puree. By cooking in batches and freezing for later use, you don't have to worry about waste and it takes no time at all to prepare a solid meal for your hungry baby. You just thaw in advance, serve it up at room temperature and you're good to go. 

5. Do your research. As with anything baby-related, you need to make sure you are well-informed. Talk with your pediatrician about which foods are the safest and healthiest for your baby and use your own judgment regarding what your child is ready for. Take a few minutes to learn about properly preparing your baby's first foods on sites like wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com, or consider checking out a book about homemade baby food at your local library.

Image via Tom Carmony/flickr

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About the author

Shayne Rodriguez Thompson is a full-time wife, full-time mom, and freelance journalist trying to balance it all and looking forward to exploring the world with her son and husband. In her rare spare moments, she's a pop culture junkie and kitchen devotee who makes a mean cupcake!

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