The Hungry Mommi Series

Baby food: shop-bought vs. home-made, which wins?

Millika Stewart, UK Contributor

09 January 2018

So your baby has started to sit up alone without support, keeping his/her head steady. What a wonderful sight! Finally this precious little human that has been 100% dependent on you for about 4-6 months, is starting to gain a bit of independence and starting to see the world from a new perspective.

You bask in the glorious moment only for it to be short-lived and over-shadowed by the following realization: does this mean he/she is ready for solid food?

Home-made is far cheaper than you think

While there are a few other developmental signs of readiness, those mentioned above are usually the first. And while it’s a massive milestone for baby, it often causes a large amount of anxiety for the parents.

The questions start clouding your mind: When do I start? How much do I give? What do I give? All quick to be answered with a little bit of research (que the frantic phone call to your mom) but the one question most parents really struggle with these days is: shop-bought or home-made?

“…I used to smirk at mommies who made their own baby food. But then one day I picked up a processed food pouch from the grocery store and besides the seemingly endless list of ingredients that I had no idea how to even pronounce let alone what they were, what really caught my eye was the expiration date. It read ‘best before October 2018’. It was October 2016.”

It’s such a tough and personal decision. While (I think) most parent can agree that home-made, natural, unprocessed food is the healthiest way to go, it’s normal to have a few reservations with this route. “Who has the time to make it?” you might wonder. “Is it really cheaper?” is another good question.

Home-made is far healthier than you think

There are a lot of misconceptions out there about making your own baby food, perhaps the most popular is that it’s ‘over the top’ and ‘unnecessary’. And I will admit that before my daughter was ready for solid food, I used to smirk at mommies who made their own baby food. But then one day I picked up a processed food pouch from the grocery store and besides the seemingly endless list of ingredients that I had no idea how to even pronounce let alone what they were, what really caught my eye was the expiration date. It read ‘best before October 2018’. It was October 2016. What have they put in there that it can be kept in your cupboard for two years without spoiling? I asked myself if I am happy letting my daughter consume something with so many preservatives and additives when I can so quickly, easily and cheaply make her something wholesome instead. That’s the day I decided that I would make my own baby food.

So let’s tackle the first one of those concerns I mentioned. It honestly doesn’t take that long. Sure, it takes longer than tossing them in the trolley at the grocery store but it doesn’t take ‘that’ long.

For example, I started my daughter on butternut purée. It took me around 20 minutes to make a whole batch. There are also many fancy gadgets out there to help make this whole affair easier and faster – a personal favorite of mine is the steamer and blender combo which really does simplify the process immensely. But for those on a budget all you need is a steamer of some sort (whether that be a steaming pot or a microwave steamer) a stick blender (which you can pick up for really cheap). And then you need a few ice cube trays for storage/freezing and you are good to go!

Secondly, is it really cheaper? To this question I can give you a wholehearted YES. Using the same example of the butternut purée, I was able to make my daughter 40 servings (2 teaspoons per serving) for R10. A shop bought pouch also costs roughly R10 but only contains 10 servings (20 teaspoons). So that equals a saving of R30 or 300%! That is a huge win for team home-made.

The simple fact is that despite the time or the money factors, making your babies food yourself gives you peace of mind that just cannot be found at the bottom of a processed food pouch – this way you know EXACTLY what they are consuming. There really is a measure of satisfaction that can be gained from looking down at that bowl of pure goodness you just made and knowing that you are giving your baby the best possible start in life. After all – this is the start of their life-long relationship with food and we as the parents have the power to make it a healthy one.

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