As a parent, you only want what’s best for your baby. So, when it comes time for your baby to start eating solids (around six months), you may wonder if going the homemade route is better than store-bought.
To make this decision even harder, the internet isn’t a big help. There are tons of opinions, research, and information out there, on both ends of the spectrum. So, what’s best?
Registered Dietician, Ashley Amaral, from Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix, breaks it down for you, so you can make an unbiased, informed decision that works best for your family.
Homemade baby food pros:
There are parents out there who get great joy from preparing baby food. Two of the biggest reasons are that they can 1) control the ingredients and flavors without added preservatives and 2) reap the cost-savings benefits.
“A single banana costs roughly $0.22 and can make two jars of baby food,” Amaral said. “It is definitely a bigger cost savings to prepare baby food at home rather than purchase if cost is a factor for you.”
If you do decide to prepare your baby food from scratch, Amaral has this advice:
- Steam or microwave fruits and vegetables until they are tender, but avoid overheating, which can destroy nutrients.
- Add 1 tablespoon of water and puree until smooth. Increase water by about 1 tablespoon until it reaches the desired texture.
- Do not add sugar. Use fruit to sweeten.
- For ease of use, freeze in ice cube trays.
- Once frozen, pop them out, place them in bags/jars and label and date them for one month out.
Store-bought baby food pros:
While making your baby’s food at home can save you a pretty penny, using store-bought food has many pros for families, as well. All baby foods in the U.S. meet strict U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines. There are also many food choices, particularly vegetables and fruits that may not be in season. When browsing the shelves, Amaral shares this advice:
“When buying store-bought baby food, make sure you read the labels carefully and look for minimal ingredients,” she said. “The only additive you should see on a label is ascorbic acid, a derivative of Vitamin C, to keep freshness.”
So, what should you choose?
When deciding between the two, Amaral, a registered dietician, said it comes down to your schedule and personal preference.
“Today there are many high-quality baby foods out there that don’t have preservatives and have unique pairings, such as quinoa, flaxseed, and beets,” Amaral said. “For busy parents juggling work and family, the cost of purchasing baby food outweighs the time it takes to make your own.”
Whether you decide to mix-and-match or go one route, you can rest assured knowing you are doing what’s best for your little one.
If you have questions or concerns, schedule an appointment with a Banner Health registered dietician who can help guide you on healthy eating and meal planning for your baby and family. Visit bannerhealth.com to find an expert near you.