You have finally reached that stage where you can start introducing your baby to solid foods. This opens up a world of opportunity for new recipes and food ideas – and while you don’t need to be a chef to whip up the Rolls Royce of baby food, preparing solid foods and having key safety measurements in place is critical.
You want to use fresh ingredients so that the food nutrients remain as intact as possible – but you also want flavour so that both you and your baby can enjoy feeding time when introducing solid foods.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when preparing solid foods:
- It’s essential that you store food properly and safely and that you stick to use-by dates.
- Prepare food in a clean kitchen with clean utensils and bowls for optimum hygiene. Just like you sterilised bottles and containers while breast-feeding, it’s important to do the same when preparing food.
- Wash your hands before food preparation, and your baby’s hands before feeding.
- All fruits and vegetables should be carefully washed before use. Some may also need peeling.
- Salt should not be added to foods for babies. Try using herbs or mild spices as you would in your usual family recipes to make the foods tastier.
- Sugar should also not be added unless a very small amount is added to tart fruit to make it palatable.
- Baby food should be cooked thoroughly until piping hot and allowed to cool before serving.
- Microwaving heats foods unevenly and can cause hotspots that may scald you and your baby. Make sure any food you warm up this way is mixed thoroughly and left to cool before serving. There are also specific baby food warmers that you can use to heat your baby’s food safely and evenly – for convenience if you are not sure.
- Never re-heat your baby’s food more than once.
- Most freshly cooked foods can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
- Preparing batches and freezing them in ice cube trays or food containers can save you lots of time. Just make sure that these containers or cups are hygienic, stackable and can easily be written on, with the name of the food and the date prepared. Check your freezer’s instructions to find out how long you can store baby food safely. It is usually between 1 and 3 months.
- Do not refreeze food after it has been thawed.
- Some foods, such as raw shellfish, liver, soft unpasteurised cheeses, apples, grapes and honey, are not suitable for babies under 12 months. What’s more, eggs should always be well cooked – so make sure you check.
- A good investment is a steamer-blender which not only allows you to steam, blend your baby’s meal in one handy jar but it also allows you to create meals from puree to chunky for every weaning stage.
Meal time shouldn’t be a chore and for baby, it certainly shouldn’t be a bore. So make sure you take the time to get fresh ingredients, get the necessary preparatory utensils (it makes a difference) and get cooking so that you and baby can fully enjoy meal times together.
*This article is an exclusive column from Dr Diana Du Plessis, spokesperson for Philips Mother and Child Division