There is no doubt that, whenever possible, homemade food is best for your baby – and for you and the whole family! Even if you are not able to produce an entire meal, parts of a meal that you have cooked yourself will be tastier and cheaper than bought ones – and you will know exactly what went into them.
Cooking fruits and vegetables at home:
- Most paediatricians will advise cooking all fruits except bananas and avocados for babies who are less than 8 months old.
- It is particularly important to cook fruits and vegetables if you start your baby on solid foods before 6 months of age – cooking breaks the food down, making it easier for an immature digestive system to deal with.
- From the age of 6 months, some babies do well with raw fruit – but it is always best to speak to your baby’s doctor or paediatrician about this.
- Bake, roast or steam fruits and vegetables to get the most nutrition from them. If you boil, use the least amount of water that you can (but don’t let it boil dry!)
- Sweet potato, white potato, carrots, parsnips and squash, peaches and pears are particularly good when they are roasted or baked.
Cooking meats for your baby:
- Most nutrients are retained if you roast or bake.
- Cook any kind of meat in a crock pot or slow-cooker -add vegetables or other foods for a complete meal!
- If you poach or use a crock-pot be sure to and add the cooking liquid back into the finished meal – throw it away, and you throw away nutrients!
- Make meat purees with plain water – the natural juices may taste too strong for baby.
- Add a fruit or vegetable puree to meat puree or a little meat juice to introduce the taste of meat to your baby.
Cooking methods – some thoughts:
Steaming is one of the best cooking methods, as the food retains more nutrients than when it is boiled – particularly important is the retention of vitamin C, which is needed for iron absorption. Use any water left in the steamer as stock and for pureeing.
Boiling and Stewing can mean some loss of nutrients – especially water-soluble vitamins (such as B and C) and minerals. Limit loss by only using a small amount of water and not overcooking. Use the water as stock and for pureeing.
Baking or Roasting – cooking by dry heat in the oven means you can cook quite large quantities of food. Also this method causes less nutrient loss, and the food is easily digestible.
Microwave Cooking – food can only be cooked in small quantities, and some foods may lose a lot of nutrients, though the flavour and nutritive values of most vegetables are often better than with other methods. Many people feel that microwave cookingis not healthy, and microwaving is possibly even dangerous.
Pressure Cooking - nutrient loss is low with this method,as very little water is used.
Frying is not the best of cooking methods, but shallow frying is much better than deep frying as deep frying at a high temperature can produce a number of toxic chemicals. Fry in just a small amount of olive oil if possible, and do not reuse frying oil.
Grilling – when food is cooked over a barbeque or under a flame,the food is burnt with coals and fire, which can cause a carcinogenic effect. Do not give grilled or barbecued food to your baby (or other children) frequently.
This information presented to you acts as a guide which contains researched information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.