YOU DON’T NEED any special expertise to prepare baby foods, but there are ways to streamline the process so that even busy parents can make foods that perfectly suit their baby’s needs. Many startup foods, like mashed bananas and avocados, as well make excellent baby Purees and do not require any cooking.
For other meals, you can either set aside unseasoned portions of food, such as vegetables, that are being cooked for the rest of the family, or cook batches of pureed foods specifically for your baby. The cooking methods shown in this article are useful for making the smooth purees suitable for the early stages of weaning.
Different cooking techniques
- Steaming helps to preserve the taste and nutrient content of fresh produce. The water-soluble vitamins B and C can be destroyed by overcooking: broccoli loses 60% of its vitamin C if boiled, 20% if steamed.
- Boiling Can destroy nutrients so ingredients should be cooked just until tender in the minimum amount of water. Be careful not to overcook.
- Microwaving allows fast cooking of fruits and vegetables (and later fish) with minimal nutrient loss. When fresh ingredients are cooked rapidly at full power, most of the nutrients ate retained.
- Baking is a nutrient-retaining, labor-saving cooking method. potatoes, sweet potatoes, and squashes can be washed, prick with a fork and baked until tender. The flesh can be scooped out and mashes.
1. Cook small pieces of vegetable or fruits until tender. Drain, retaining a tablespoon or two of the cooking liquid, then pour into the food processor bowl.
2. Engage the food processor motor until a smooth, even-textured puree is produced. If necessary, add a little of the cooking water to thin the mixture, then pulse briefly.
3. The final texture of the puree should be completely smooth. It can be thinned with cooled boiled water for young babies.
Making purees with a mould
1. To make a puree from fibrous ingredients, e.g. garden peas, fit the fine mould blade then place the ingredients in the mold and set over a bowl.
2. Turn the moulded handle to rotate the blade. Continue the grinding until most of the ingredients are pushed through the mould, then discard the fibrous pulp left behind.
3. The finished puree has a smooth, uniform texture. It can be thinned down with a little of the water reserved from cooking, if necessary.
Freezing & Reheating
Batch cooking and freezing is by far the most time-economical way to make food for your baby. Only a few purées – banana, avocado, melon, and aubergine, for example – do not freeze well. Food should be stored in a freezer that freezes food to 0°F (-18°C) or below in 24 hours. Food that has thawed should never be refrozen, though defrosted raw food may be cooked and then frozen again for later use.
Using Frozen Purees
1. Allow the freshly cooked puree to cool to room temperature then spoon it into sterilized ice-cube trays. Transfer the trays to the freezer.
2. When the puree has frozen solid, take the trays from the freezer and quickly push out the cubes onto a clean plate.
3. Set aside the required number of cubes and heat in a pan or microwave until piping hot all the way through.
4. Transfer the remaining puree portions to a freezer bag, seal tightly, then label and date the contents. Return to the freezer.
It is safe to thaw purees in a microwave or saucepan, as long as the food is then heated all the way through until piping hot. If using a microwave, be particularly vigilant as the microwave can heat food unevenly, producing “hot spots ” but leaving other parts of the food cold. Let the puree cool after heating, and test the temperature before offering it to your baby. It is dangerous to reheat food more than once so reheat only one portion at a time to avoid unnecessary waste.
Babies and young children are especially vulnerable to the effects of food poisoning, so it is essential that great care is taken in the storage and preparation of their food. In the first few months of a baby’s life, extra care must be taken, but once your baby is mobile and exploring objects with his mouth, there is little point in sterilizing anything except bottles and teats. Attention to food safety rules, however, remains crucial.
warm milk is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, so bottles must be scrupulously washed and sterilized. Sterilize all bottles, teats and feeding cup spouts up to 1 year, and sterilize feeding spoons for the first 6 months. You can use an electric, steam or microwave sterilizing kit, not simply boil feeding equipment in a pan of water for 10 minutes, or wash it in a dishwasher on a hot program.
Kitchen hygiene need not be complicated; adhering to a few simple rules will minimize the likelihood of food contamination: you should always wash your hand before preparing food, and your child’s hand should be washed before eating. It is also a good idea to wipe daily with an antibacterial agent any surfaces that come into contact with your baby’s food. Chopping board and kitchen knives should be washed immediately after use, and equipment left to air-dry, and only perfectly clean tea towels should be used to dry your baby’s feeding equipment.
Food Safety Tips
- Keep raw meat, fish, and eggs away from other foods. Wash hands thoroughly after contact with any of these foods and uses separate chopping boards for meat and fish and raw fruit and vegetables.
- Only reheat food once, and make sure it is heated to a high temperature to kill off the bacteria.
- Do not keep your baby’s half-eaten food for a later meal because the saliva introduced from your baby’s spoon will breed bacteria quickly.
- Always date food stored in the freezer so that food which is past its best, or which has even deteriorated and become harmful, is never offered.
- Do not leave food unrefrigerated as bacteria multiply rapidly at room temperature, and cool food quickly if it is to be refrigerated or frozen.
- Cover all food and drink securely to protect it from contamination by germ-carrying insects, and keep pets away from food and kitchen work surfaces.