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Q&A: Feeding babies nutritiously and inexpensively

Babyfood

I was just curious: do you buy baby food or do you make it? I
have two boys 8 and 3 and a baby girl 8 months and it
seems like I am spending a lot on baby food these last couple of
months. -Mandy

Having only
had three young children so far, I'm no expert when it comes to
parenting, so I'll just share what we've done with our girls (Silas is still nursing exclusively). Each
child and family is different so please do what works best for your
family. However, since you asked, here's what has worked for us:

1. I nurse exclusively for the first six months. For me, nursing is easy, simple, a great post-pregnancy weight-loss program, the best nourishment for my child, and it's free. (Well, it is unless you count all the extra food I consume while nursing!) I know some women would love to be able to nurse and have been unable to do so and I feel very blessed that nursing is something I've never had troubles with.

2. I start introducing a few foods here and there at around six months.
This is normally in the form of just giving the child a couple of
tastes of banana or vegetables a few times per week. I usually mash up
something that I'm already eating and offer a few bites. Nursing
continues like usual.

3. I start encouraging our children to eat small meals three times per day at around a year old.
We stick with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains first and then
gradually add in other foods. By this time, a child can easily eat soft
table foods (or fruits/veggies mashed in the baby food grinder) so
we'll just offer the child whatever fruit or veggies we're eating at a
meal plus some homemade bread or other wholegrain finger foods.

As
our child catches on to eating more, nursing is, in turn, gradually
reduced to only 3-4 times per day (usually once in the morning, once in
the afternoon, and once before bed) and will continue to be replaced
more and more by table food over the next six to twelve months. (I
weaned Kathrynne at 18 months and Kaitlynn at 19 months.)

4. I rarely ever buy or make my own baby food. I personally see
store-bought baby food as one of the most overpriced items ever, so I
don't buy it except on the rare occasion when I can get it for free with a coupon.
I've made baby food up ahead of time and frozen it in ice cubes before (see more information and ideas on doing that here),
but I found that didn't work very well for us.

Instead, I've found it to be much simpler to just
offer some of whatever foods we are already eating. Since I normally make
homemade bread every few days and we eat a lot of fresh or frozen fruits and
vegetables, it's been quite simple to have something for the baby to eat
from what we're already eating.

I do recommend you invest in a simple bay food grinder (I like the Kidco Baby Food Mill which is about $15.)

and then just make sure you plan fruits and
vegetables into your menus that your baby can eat. If it's something
which can't just be easily mashed with a fork, stick a small bit in the
grinder when you sit down at the table, grind it up, and
you're good to go!

So that's how we keep our babies nutritiously fed without spending a lot of extra money. I'd love to hear what works for others: do you make your own baby food, buy baby food, or just feed your baby mashed up table food?

Helpful Resources: If you are interested in making your own baby food, you might check out this post here or see if you can check out Feed Me I'm Yours
or check out some of the books listed here from your local library.

Subscribe for free email updates from Money Saving Mom® and get my Guide to Freezer Cooking for free!

56 Comments

  • Monica J. says:

    My son probably had 50% homemade baby food and 50%store bought when he was just eating baby food and wasn’t having table food. When he first tstarted eating solids I would get fruits and veggies from the farmers market or grocery store as usual and i would steam and blend it in my Magic Bullet (the one you see on TV) and freeze it in ice cubes. As he got older I would just cook or steam a little bit at every meal because i had a steamer attatchment for the magic bullet and it only took a couple minutes to do. So he would always have fresh stuff and not always frozen and thawed. I loved making my own baby food but it wasn’t very portable. When we were out and about i would take store bought with me to feed him.

  • Heather says:

    Funny, I found my food mill totally inconvenient and preferred to make big batches of baby food and freeze them.

    We eat a lot of tomato as our vegetable and with a baby with reflux, tomatoes were not the best choice to be grinding for her to eat.

    Her favorite foods were carrots and prunes, so it was very easy to make those two types of baby food in advance and feed her from our meals when they were appropriate and feed the home made baby food when our dinners were not the best choice for a 6 month old! 🙂

  • We bought baby food with our first child, but realized very quickly how expensive (and eh hem – NASTY!) that stuff is.

    I am currently pregnant with our 4th and we plan to continue making our own baby food as we did with our last two children.

    We start solids a bit earlier in our family than most, but we find that the consistency of a “Stage 1” solid is still too liquidy to keep on a spoon. We have one of those tiny food processors and we use that for our baby food.

    Generally, until our children eat finger foods (6-9 months), we give them oatmeal with a fruit mixed in for breakfast, some veggies and/or fruit for lunch, and then I just throw whatever I’ve made for dinner into the food processor for them to eat. Sometimes there are leftovers, so they eat that for lunch the next day.

    Our children have never been exceptionally picky eaters and they have always loved even spicy foods. We credit that somewhat to the way we feed them when they are first starting out on food.

    I also nurse until 6-9 months, so that’s nutritionally supplemental as well.

  • P.S. We did find that traveling was a bit tricky w/ the food processor plan, but there are some things you can buy at the store that are canned or packaged that are still much cheaper than baby food, such as individual applesauces, pumpkin, etc.

  • Tawn Bensink says:

    I have been given my son homemade baby food, exculsively. We bought the kitchen aid mini food processor ($40 Target.com) and ice cube trays. I just buy foods that we already eat, potatoes, apples, bananas, and freeze what we don’t eat. He is starting table foods more now and he just has a little of what I’m having. He seems to be gaining fine 50% percentile.

  • With my first I felt pressured into feeding him “solids” and felt like he NEEDED it. Now I know that’s just not the case! With my 5 mo daughter I’ll be breastfeeding exclusively until she has the desire to eat small pieces of food on her own and can sit up well enough to do so. Whatever age that is, that’s when it’ll happen. And she won’t ever get ‘cereal’. (Little known fact – iron enriched cereals actually change the way your baby will absorb iron from then on out. AND grains really shouldn’t be introduced during the first year anyways!)

    Great first foods include avocado, steamed veggies, ripe pears and bananas, chunks of roasted sweet potatoes, and any other soft fruit or veggie.

    The great thing about breastfeeding is that it’s ALL they need for the first year!!! God sure made our bodies amazing didn’t he? This time around, I won’t be buying baby food at all unless we travel and making our own dinners is not possible.

  • Melissa says:

    I just started my 5 month old on baby food a few weeks ago. He is eating some sweet potatoes and peaches with his cereal. I am making the food and freezing it in ice cube trays. I was given a food processor as a shower gift and so far it has worked well. He us eating one ounce of food with cereal twice a day and nursing as usual. So far so good!

  • Rachael says:

    I have two children and with my first made some of my own purees, but with my daughter (who is now 7 months) I’ve done Baby Led Weaning (‘weaning’ is the UK term for starting solids, it doesn’t mean stopping nursing) and am completely sold on it. I don’t ever plan to spoon feed or make baby food again.

    http://www.babyled.com is the website and the book is published in the UK but should be released here in the US this fall. I got it through interlibrary loan and just finished reading it There is a lot of advice about it on various online forums too as it’s becoming a new trend in baby eating.

    The basic idea is that starting around 6 months, you let the baby attempt to feed themselves what you are eating (fruits and vegetables, meat, etc… hold off on allergenic foods until they’re a bit older). Big pieces they can pick up and gnaw on are best – not mush, not tiny pieces. The baby will learn how to chew and swallow all on their own without ever needing to do mushy food.

    Some people worry about choking, but I have not found it to be a problem. Babies are designed with choke-preventing reflexes (like the gag reflex that pushes food away from the back of the mouth) and as long as they’re sitting upright and are the only one putting food in their mouth, the risk of choking is low.

    It is amazing to me how well my daughter is eating after just over a month of access to food – yesterday she ate salmon burger for lunch, today she ate hummus, she enjoys watermelon and kiwi, and I give her pieces of whatever we’re eating on her plate – spices and all.

    It is VERY inexpensive and very easy. A bit messy at first but the benefits are worth it, and I love how she is included in our family meals at her own pace and sharing our family’s foods and flavors instead of separate ‘baby food’.

    I really believe that this is the most natural way to transition from breastfeeding to eating food b/c you trust the baby to indicate when they’re hungry and full, and you let them become independent eaters (which is a big help with multiple children!).

  • LisaB says:

    My oldest son just turned 23 last week and I still have the baby grinder I bought for $7 (back then it seemed so expensive! lol) when he was 3 months old. I used it for my youngest son (who turns 12 next week) and I’ve also used it for my grandson (who turned 4 last week also).

    After 23 years and 3 boys it still is in great shape although the mfg logo has worn off.

    I loved how I could throw it in my bag when traveling, use it right at the table in restaurants because no electricity was required.

    There’s nothing else that comes to mind that I still have after 23 years and still use. It was a great $7 investment.

  • Sarah says:

    My son just turned 6 months and I have been making all of his baby food, like I did for my daughter, who is now 2.5yr old. I was only able to breastfeed both of them up until 6 months, when they got teeth! Neither one really wanted to sit still and nurse, they would rather be on the move, so they would never drink enough. But I think it works out better this way.

    I love making my own baby food, the kids get so much more of a variety of food. Some that I would never think to give them. I use the cookbook by author, Annabel Karmel (I think), it’s a great tool!

  • I did not buy any prepared baby food for my daughter. It is just so easy, and inexpensive to make your own! I didn’t even use a mill or grinder- a fork or potato masher worked fine for us.

    I also nursed exclusively for 6 months and likewise just gave her little tastes of applesauce, mashed bananas or sweet potatoes. My daughter is almost 3 and is still nursing. We had some difficulties– milk took 5 days to come in, I had foot surgery that required anesthesia, I had food poisoning… And I work full time. I pumped so much extra milk that I was able to donate 22 gallons to the milk bank in my state.

    I can’t imagine how much money that blessing from God saved us, not to mention reduced doctor visits and all that.

    Babies and toddlers shouldn’t be fed anything special– they can eat the same foods (except honey and any allergens) just with a little more preparation.

  • Sarah C says:

    I love this post! My baby is 3 months and I’ve already started stocking up on baby food because it’s so expensive. If you think about it, you’re baby will eat 2 or 3 jars every time he eats, if that’s 3 jars 3 times a day, that’s about $150 a month. I don’t spend anywhere near that on my food for a month! I’ve been getting what I have for free (guiding stars coupon from food lion). Every time I go I’ll pick up 2 jars of baby food for free or for just pennies. I didn’t think it was very feasible to make your own, but this post has proven that thought otherwise. I do plan on breastfeeding only until he decides that’s not enough anymore. If it’s 5 months, ok, if it’s 7 months – that’s great! I’ll know if my baby needs more than just milk, so why give it to him if he doesn’t need it? I’m excited to try out making baby food on my own. 🙂

  • Christina says:

    I made my own fruit and vegetables purees by steaming and then running them through a food processor, then freezing them. I work full-time, so I made big batches on the weekends (I would make a 4-8 week supply of a couple different types of food, then make different foods the next week, so I always had a variety on hand). I nursed and pumped until he turned one, so we never used a drop of formula.

    When we traveled, I took portable “grown up” foods like applesauce, grits, bananas and yogurt. We didn’t travel overnight much during the 6-12 months phase, so these usually sufficed. And by 9-10 months, he could use his fingers pretty well to eat diced cheese, crackers, bread, pastas, etc. My mother-in-law, who is our primary “babysitter” kept a stock of my purees in her freezer. For daycare, I pulled the purees the night before and put them in a heatable, portable dish to thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Then the teachers just heated his food in the crock pots like they did with the other babies’ jarred foods.

    My mother-in-law wanted to be helpful (and thoughtful), so she tried to feed my son jarred green peas one time. He refused them, despite the fact he would eat pureed green peas every day if I’d let him. So I guess his palate preferred what it was used to. 😉

  • Christina says:

    We love our food mill!! I use it at home, at restaurants, take it to family dinners and on vacation… mine came with an all-plastic carrying case too, so I can toss it in, messy, and wash everything out at home.

    At nine months, our little boy is a VERY happy eater. He loves to sample whatever we’re having for dinner–of course within reasonable limits for safety. We’d never give him something that might contain bones (like fish) or something he might choke on without thoroughly inspecting and then possibly mashing it up.

    His favorite, go-to breakfast? A blueberry waffle! :o)

  • Lisa says:

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE Feed Me I’m Yours! Fabulous book! I nursed exclusively for as long as I could. Then, the little ones got mushed up whatever we were eating! And I mean whatever- Chinese, Italian, Indian- they are it mushed!

  • Joy says:

    I have done both making my own food and buying jars/snacks at the store. When I can find jars for around 15 cents or less, I will buy lots. I have six children and so I have found it so much more convenient to have lots of little jars ready to grab and feed. But, I also make my own when we are eating something that can easily be mashed or diced up and fed. We also use lots of cheerios!

  • Chris says:

    I never offered (nor did they seem to want solids) until about six months (DS1 was real interested until more like 8 months).

    When DS1 was a baby I had a bunch of BOGO baby food coupons. I ended up with about 15 jars and I ended up taking some of them to the food pantry. He would not eat pureed food or baby cereal AT ALL. He would not let anyone spoonfeed him ever. He just ate table food.

    DS2 liked baby food a lot more and I would bring organic jarred fruits and veggies to daycare (baby food meat nearly makes me gag on sight. I was not about to make my child eat it). At four he would STILL love to have others feed him.

  • Elizabeth says:

    I completely agree with the baby mill recommendation. I do most of my cooking from scratch so it was easy to mill whatever we were eating. Now that I have twin girls, I plan on doing the same thing. I’m just too cheap to buy the little jars…

  • Rachel says:

    I have three kids also, a 6, 4, and 16 month old. I have never given them any kinds of baby food, not even homemade, just mushed up what we were eating and gave it to them. Since we nursed well into their second year (and still going with the baby) they get what they need nutritionally from milk as well.

  • Myra says:

    Making baby food and freezing it in ice cube trays has worked for our family. I’ve also been able to make enough to share with other families in need.

    Here’s a link to my step by step process!
    http://www.happyhousewifelivinglife.com/2009/07/homemade-baby-food.html

  • Andrea says:

    I have six—the first two I made the baby food, and the last four (mostly due to lack of energy) I bought some of it and made some. Mashing up bananas is easy, and it’s not hard to make homemade apple or pear sauce with no added sugar (my older kids enjoyed it too, just not as pureed as I gave the baby). If you’re having a vegetable for dinner, mash up some of it (unseasoned) with a little formula, expressed milk, or even a little juice. I do agree that store-bought baby food is horribly expensive. So is formula, but I wasn’t able to exclusively nurse all of my children, so we had little choice there!

  • Dana says:

    I agree w/Rachel on allowing the self-feeding of pieces of food. We did this by default with our first. She’s extremely independent, and never liked for us to feed her baby food. She began feeding herself pieces of whatever we were having by 7 months, and never had a choking or digestive issue. We only fed her baby food a couple times a week until 8 months or so when we just grew tired of pushing it with her. In the end, this saved us a lot of money, and at age 2, is a wonderful eater. Our 2nd child is 3 months old, but when it comes time, I plan to encourage this same eating behavior with him.

  • Kristina says:

    Thanks for this post. I did baby food with my first two kids and it cost a ton. My son is 8 months old and ready to start eating, whenever he sees my husband or I or his sisters with food he dives for it. I am not in the train of thought that it is bad to give children food before a year. I think there is a reason God gave babies teeth so early. He pinches with his fingers now and picks up little things. I am excited to try him on food. Thanks for the food mill suggestion, it is going to save us a ton.

  • Andrea says:

    I had trouble with #5 of 6 being underweight (at one point he was under the lowest percentile!!) so the doctor said to give him formula along with nursing and buy those little jars of baby food meats. They’re tiny but they pack something like 70 calories a jar or whatever. Great idea, but he hated them and wouldn’t touch them!!!!! (he’s 6 now and still pretty skinny but quite healthy!!)

  • Jo says:

    We used the KidCo mill, too and LOVED it! I like their freezer trays, too for freezing baby food.

  • Tyree says:

    I bought baby food a little for convience only, but they hardly ate it and it ended up in the trash. I also nurse til about 18mo and would just feed them from our food at about 8mo. I kept froozen peas, canned carrots and applesauce on hand for days our meals weren’t quite right. Most baby food I did buy really never got eaten—I really don’t get baby cereal for babies, they so don’t need it or like it (oatmeal and rice cereal make good glueten free cookies though 🙂

  • Tyree says:

    I forgot to add my favorite “baby food” –frozen blueberries slightly thawed and cut in half of fourths–so good and so ood for your baby!

  • Crystal says:

    Thank you so much for this article and the comments, sometimes I feel like a horrible parent for not going “by the book” when it comes to my feeding choices, both my children have learned to eat table foods in small pieces at very early ages, my almost 10 month old is now completely on small finger foods, and table foods. I have to agree baby food is very overpriced and it just seemed natural to me to feed them what we were eating, and they have adjusted well. Or at least I hope so. I just wanted to say thank you.

  • Hannah says:

    I nursed all of my babies(there are five) for at least a year, including the last two who were twins. With my first one I did everything my doctor told me to. Started cereal at 4 months, etc. With my second, I didn’t start any kid of solids until 7 months. He grew just fine. With my third I nursed her mostly except for a green bean every now and then for the first year and didn’t start being consistent with solids until she was over a year old. The twins I basically did the same thing. We all sit at the table for dinner and I would just give them whatever we were having that would be gentle on their mouths and tummies.

  • Tara says:

    I am making homemade baby food right now. I either buy fresh veggies or bags of frozen veggies. I steam them and then run them through the food processor with some water and rice cereal to get it to the consistency that I want. I freeze these in ice cube trays or small tupperware containers. My little boy is 6 months old right now and in a couple of months I plan to mash up whatever the hubby and I are having.

  • S. Mullinax says:

    We did not introduce solids until 6 months old with both girls. They usually want what you are eating anyway – so skip the over priced baby food and just feed them what you are eating. They will end up eating it anyways;-)

  • Amber says:

    My baby hated cereal. And I rarely bought jarred food but instead pureed various veggies and fruits and froze them. My daughter actually didn’t eat “baby food” very long. She skipped right ahead to the big-kid stuff! Plus, she nursed until about 14 months, which was a huge help.

  • Nicole says:

    I think making your own baby food is the way to go . . . my son is 14 now (yikes!) but at the time I was making his food it was economical and ridiculously simple. Plus he transitioned to normal foods I think much simpler because as he got older I would just make them chunkier. My friends who used jarred baby foods always seemed to end up with picky eaters. Plus if you bake one sweet potato it is enough for several meals. I would make and freeze some of the more time consuming stuff (squash, sweet potatoes, etc) but things like peas, carrots, etc I would just cook them a bit more than I liked for dinner and mash them up. Fruits like bananas and unsweetened applesauce were cheap so I never did much with those. Plus my grandmother at the time was still canning and would always pass along her canned fruit so I felt good about giving him that!

  • Megan says:

    I didn’t feel my children much “baby” food either. I started soft table food at 5 months and just went from there. I did occasionally buy toddler meals for when we were on the go.

  • Dakota says:

    I’ve got 3 children. And I’ve only ever bought jarred baby food for when we’re traveling. Just because it’s easier. The rest of the time I make it. (Incidentally I just did up some sweet potatoes earlier today for my son, we’ve already worked on cereal and time to move to ‘other’ foods!)

    The kicker for me was one day with my oldest I just did the math, buying two sweet potatoes was the equivalent of $10 in jarred sweet potatoes (Roughly, that was a long time ago so I may be slightly off now!)

    Plus you can get better food combination’s when doing it from scratch. I usually just set aside a few hours every 2 weeks to have a cook a thon…then we’re good to go. Once baby has gone through all the basics, I just puree up what we’re having.

    Works well for us!

  • Allison Voges says:

    When my first was about 6 mo. old I found a Happy Baby food grinder at a garage sale! I was so excited! It was just like the one my mom had. Whenever we’re eating something that I can grind up in that, that’s what I feed baby, otherwise they get jarred baby food or Cheerios, that sort of thing. I just go with baby, when they get interested I start on solids, because they’ve all been breastfed too. And now my preschoolers are good eaters!

  • Katie says:

    I nursed my first and bought baby food because I was working full time and didn’t think twice about the expense. Now, with my second, I’m home full time. I make big batches of pureed fruits or veggies and freeze them in ice cube trays, then store in the freezer and heat as he needs them. I started introducing solids at 6 months and now, at 9 months, he’s able to start chewing and eating finger foods, so the extra food preparation on my part is pretty minimal. I just bake extra sweet potatoes or boiled a big batch of carrots as I make dinner, then puree in a blender and freeze. I haven’t had to buy any baby food for this baby, and my little food cubes are healthy, convenient, inexpensive, and don’t include any of the things he’s allergic to.

  • Mary in Ohio says:

    I tend to feed directly from my plate (spiced exactly the way I eat the food) just smush it up and mine LOVED it. I do not have picky eaters at all, in fact they eat EVERYTHING and they love their veggies! Unfortunately, I have never been able to nurse my kids (though not for lack of trying!) so I have had to do fomula. I never made baby food and would buy it on rare occasions esp if we were traveling or away from the house for visits, etc. I did stay away from the cereals that they sell for babies though mine would never eat them but they loved reg oatmeal and barley cereals.

  • cathy says:

    Although I used a food grinder like you displayed in the photograph when my babies were little 25 years ago, I thought I would mention a new homemade baby food option I saw at Williams-Sonoma. It is called “Beaba Babycook” and can be found in stores or on their website. There is also a cookbook sold separately that goes with it. This item is rather pricey, but is another option that would be great for those that can afford it. And lastly, nursing for as long as possible is always the best!!

  • Melissa says:

    I enjoyed (and still do for some things) making my own baby food. My boys love homemade applesauce and so I continue to make that and keep it on hand. I just pureed foods, froze them in ice cube trays, and had convenient baby food ready to go. My youngest has a very hard time with certain textures of foods (he still can’t handle breads, etc) so the ability to make my own food for him was not only healthier (since it was organic), and cheaper, but it was also easier. I’ve previously written about how I made baby food (and have a few pics, too):
    http://www.savingcentswithsense.net/2009/05/making-homemade-baby-food/

  • I have nursed my babies until 6 months, and thn started introducing some food as they were interested (about the amount that you mentioned, Crystal).

    I don’t buy baby food. I can my own (I just canned peaches and pears for the next baby, plus I canned applesauce and apricots earlier this year for my upcoming baby). Sometimes we will add a little baby cereal to it, but we never use an entire box per baby for the whole time they are eating soft food. For any other foods, we mash what we are eating at the table that the baby can eat, and sometimes use a hand-held grinder.

  • Taleyna says:

    With my first I was rigid about waiting until 6 months. I then made my own most of the time using the blender and freezing in cubes. My second was actively tracking and grabbing whatever we were eating by about 5 months so we went to smashing and offering.

  • Michelle says:

    Crystal–we do almost exactly as you do, but nurse longer (2+ years).

    Note to reader Sarah C. (commented above): if you’re planning on feeding your baby 2-3 JARS of baby food at each meal, that’s waaaaay too much. Most babies will only take a few tablespoons of jarred food at each meal because that’s all their little tummies hold! Don’t feed from the jar either–it puts bacteria in the jar so you can’t save the unused portion. If you scoop a little into a bowl, then if there’s extra after the meal, the container can be refrigerated to finish later. 🙂

  • Sarah says:

    I nursed for 8 months but started adding solids around 6 months. I have both bought baby food and made my own baby food. When I made my baby food it was so easy. I just bolied the veggies according to package directions, put it in a blender with the water from the boiling and pureed it. I then froze it in small plastic containers and thawed a few at a time in the fridge. So easy and my baby almost liked the veggies I made more than he did from a jar. I never tried fruit, just veggies, but I think it saved us money.

  • Honey says:

    Haven’t read the other posts so i hope I’m not repeating. I nursed and then when starting solids did more real foods than jarred babyfoods-although if on the go I would take jars. My 5 children each had avacado as their first food. It is technically a fruit so it is easily digested. But not sweet so they don’t get too attached to sweet foods only. And the healthy fats helped my trim babies gain steadily. And bananas, cheeries, steamed carrots are all very easy. After the puree stage, I would just buy “no salt added” canned veggies and found that to be cheaper than baby food when I was out of fresh or needed something quick. Obviously sweet potato, baked potato, smashed green beans and brocolli (cooked until very tender) are all great for babies. I agree with Crystal, baby food is exhorbitantly priced! So making your own when you can is a great cost cutter.

  • Jenny says:

    I love seeing that others nurse until 18 months or longer. My son is 14 months and is still nursing 3 times a day. For us it works best since we think he is allergic to dairy. But I just told my hubby that I am not planning to quit nursing anytime too soon and he was really surprised. I don’t see a problem. My son likes it and he has a lot of immunities that have kept him extremly healthy. He has barely been sick.

    On the other note, I buy baby food but I am new to the couponing world. We are at a point where he barely eats baby food and I am just trying to finish it off. Next child I plan to make most of it and then just buy some for travel etc. It is easier to throw some baby food in the diaper bag. But I am now used to bringing cooked meals for my son since he has a possibly allergy. So either way. I have hated spending that much money on baby food. Its a good thing he is breastfeed or how knows how much I would have spent feeding him this last year.

  • Angela says:

    I made all my own baby food when my kids were little. And just like you we breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months.

    I made single fruits and veggies at first and then ground up our regular meals as they got older.

    I did try the food mill but didn’t like it. Instead, I used a hand mixer and it worked great. You could make small or large batches easily. And you could kind of control the consistency, mix more for puree, less for older babies that needed chunks.

    We used a lot of ice cube trays to freeze portions for traveling and convenience. It was so nice to know what my babies were eating.

    And easier on the environment…no jars or containers to throw out or recycle. Good luck with your baby. 🙂
    Angela http://thesuburbanjungle.blogspot.com

  • Julie says:

    Two words— MAGIC BULLET! Love this machine!!! Not only use it to “chop” our table food into baby food but I use it for smoothies for my older kids every am. Never did the food mill b/c it is too much of a pain to clean. Love my magic bullet 🙂 everything goes in the dishwasher and it is so fast & easy.

  • Annie says:

    After reading ALL of the other comments, just a few other suggestions:

    wholesomebabyfood.com is a great resource from when to offer certain foods, how to choose them and fix them, proper storage, and some great recipes.

    Use silicon ice cube trays when freezing homemade baby food. The cubes pop right out, then store them in quart- or gallon-sized freezer bags (labeled with food name and date).

    For traveling, we would put the cubes in ziploc bags and put them in a small cooler bag (like a bottle bag) with an ice pack and put them in the freezer whenever we arrived. Small bowls with lids are great for transporting when we’d be gone during a meal.

  • Hannah says:

    I never enjoyed feeding babies with a spoon. Eventually figured out that they just have to get through a messy stage before learning to eat by themselves. My younger kids went to table food almost immediately. I have six.

  • Kortney says:

    I just started feeding my baby solids at 5 and a half months. She took right to it. She seemed a little fussy, so that is why we started solids even though I had planned on breastfeeding exclusively until 6 months because in my mind, that was the “right” age to start solids on. She definitely wanted solids, she took to it so well! So far I only give her pureed baby food that I freeze (sweet potatoes) and mashed up bananas. I also give her some organic rice cereal which she loves and I got super cheap at Target.

  • Kris says:

    I wrote a post about this a few months ago, based on my experiences and those of my friends.

    http://frugalmomskitchen.blogspot.com/2009/06/save-on-baby-food.html

  • Christy Carden says:

    I made almost all of my son’s baby food and it was not hard at all. I found it easier to do the freezing in ice cube trays probably because I work full-time so I wasn’t home for breakfast and lunch to make it on the spot. I also breastfed until 1 and pumped until 1. I would make up a whole bunch of a certain kind of fruit or vegetable (sometimes steam it or bake it-squash), then put it in my blender. I know a lot of others who have used a food processor, but we didn’t have one and we had a blender, so that is what I used and it worked. I would save a few servings in containers in the fridge for use over the next 2 or 3 days and freeze the rest in ice cube trays. The next day I would pop out the ice cubes into reusable lock-n-lock or pyrex containers. I kept a roll of masking tape and a sharpie in the kitchen so that I could label containers with what it was and the date.

    Every night, I would pack up my son’s “lunch box” for day care with bottles of breastmilk and small lock-n-locks with individual veg and fruit servings. I would take 2 or 3 cubes out and put them in a small lock and lock for each serving. I would label the lock and lock so his day care teacher knew what it was (just because she was curious and that way she could talk to him about what he was eating instead of just saying, “your green stuff)” Once he hit around 10 months, I started introducing chunkier foods that we ate like lasagna and would also send that in a lock and lock (cut/mashed up). She would send home all of the empty bottles and lock and locks each night and I would run them through the dishwasher so this did require a lot of bottles and lock and locks — one set in the dishwasher and one set being prepped for tomorrow. Oh and another set of 4 bottles at work because I pumped directly into bottles to avoid another step! We still use the lock and locks and it seems that no small ones are ever available, they always have food in them, so I guess we will have to buy some more if we do this again for another child!

    On weekends or at dinnertime, I would sometimes do something on the spot that didn’t freeze well like blueberries and banana mixed together and just barely heat up the blueberries in a bit of water in a small saucepan and mash them up with bananas.

    I got most of my ideas from a $10 cookbook that someone gave me, but I also found a free “recipes” on the internet. By recipe I mean tips like should you steam it first or just throw it in the blender. Blanch peaches and they peel quickly. These will freeze well, these won’t, etc.

    A few times we went out of town and bought “baby food.” He usually didn’t like it and he is not a picky eater and always eats a lot! The only thing I made that he didn’t like was peas–consistently doesn’t like them. I bought some of the Gerber graduates once while visiting great grandparents around age 1 because their meal times are so funny and I knew he would not always wait for us to eat; he wouldn’t touch them.

    Going out of town tip to save money instead of buying a lot of baby food- individual servings of unsweetened applesauce are usually cheaper than baby food. I also would buy bananas when we went out of town and mash them up with a fork!

  • Andrea says:

    It’s so nice to read some of your posts! My 8 month old has zero interest in food– he’ll sometimes gnaw a teething biscuit, but he’s had fabulous projectile spit up every time we’ve given him a single bite of puree. It comes right back out along with most of his last breast milk. Our doctor doesn’t like it, but honestly, when you combine the normal mess with spit up and the prep work and the unhappy baby, it’s just not worth it. And the child is off the charts, so he’s clearly not suffering too much without baby food. Presumably someday he’ll eat solids and not be exclusively breast fed as a teenager, but for now it works for us.

    I would suggest that you consider buying special trays designed for breast milk. They don’t have the nasty plastics that a lot of normal ice cube trays do. I like the Fresh Baby ones.

  • Lorie says:

    My daughter doesn’t care much for jarred baby food & barely tolerates some of the food that I make. I have found that she much prefers whatever we’re eating, especially rice. She doesn’t seem to want to feed herself much though, except for things like crackers or Cheerios. I think she doesn’t like the texture on her hands. When my 4yo DS was a baby & I tried to feed him jarred baby food if we were on the road or something he wouldn’t eat it very well. He always preferred what I made & now he’s a great eater & will try most anything. I might buy jarred food if it’s free or VERY cheap but it might just be given to the food pantry.

  • Meghan D says:

    I personally found a baby food grinder to be the biggest waste–it didn’t “puree” the food enough so I’ve ending up just using the blender we already have. It was probably the worst $10 I’ve spent on the baby.

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