It might be pricey to get formula for babies these days – especially organic formula that reduces the amount of heavy chemicals and extra fortified nutrients, but man is it ever easier than cooking real food for them. Babies will need to start solid somewhere between 10-15 months, and although milk will continue to be essential (especially if breast feeding) eventually they will begin to wean out of it. This is a great chance for babies to explore new flavours, consistencies and get a wide range of nutrients for their body to absorb for development.
If you are trying to avoid pre-prepped baby food, which I highly recommend, the cooking can be daunting and tedious. You need to keep things interested, as natural as possible, and readily available. This is why jar food is so popular – but as I am sure many of you have read or heard, baby jar food is ridiculously artificial. Don’t let the labels fool you with false advertising. Read the ingredients and if there is one thing you don’t understand, drop it. This is because preservatives are needed, and this can’t be helped or avoided with market baby food. If you have to I would limit it only if you are travelling somewhere and really have no other option.
Make sure that you opt for the veggies, especially at first and then slowly with fruits as their palettes become more sophisticated. The blandness (and even bitterness) of some veggies will ease them into a world of stimulating flavours that come with fruits. So start with zucchinis, mashed cucumbers, potatoes (and then sweet potatoes) and even mashed lentil paste if you can. Opt for steamed and boiled to make it easier to mash and either sieve or mill it to a pulp or for an easier way blend it and then use a sieve to make sure you haven’t missed any chunks.
Eventually mix in other flavours such as eggs, oatmeal, and mashed rice and then get into fruits and some of the sweet flavours as they have a good well balanced range of foods. For eggs, I would even mash some egg yolks with a little bit of milk to ease them into the egg taste, the proteins they get will be excellent. If you are vegan you may do the same with oatmeal.
To make life easier for you do a good-sized batch and portion them into freezer friendly containers and freeze them for future use. Defrost the night before and this will save you tons of headaches of worrying about what to cook and at the same time will save you money by buying larger numbers of produce instead of small batches – of course time is the real winner here.
Eventually they will be able to take on steamed white fish and some tomato based sauces with rice or couscous. Just be sure that nothing is to spicy, salty or sweet. The temperature is right, and the solids are at a minimum in case they have to swallow it in instead of biting. But make sure it is thick enough to get them into the habit of chewing.