Dominic was introduced to solid food when he was 6 months old. I have been cooking his baby food from scratch. Instant cereal was only included for emergency situations (run out of food!) and for his meals outside. His meals are mainly Chinese food (porridge), although I do try to expose him to other tastes by giving him beef stew, minestrone soup (with plenty of Italian herbs), chawan mushi, etc.
Baby Food – My Method
As I mentioned in “Freeze! “, I usually cook a large batch of baby food and freeze. It’s time-saving and less wastage.
Generally, what I did was to cook a porridge base, and freeze them into individual portions. When Dominic first started solids, the porridge base was usually brown rice porridge with nothing. For a meal, I could then add expressed breastmilk into it to make brown rice cereal. As he grew older, I added more varieties, mainly chicken and fish porridge. Apart from the porridge base, I made veggie ice cubes. For a meal, I would take a couple of veggie ice cubes and add them to the porridge base. That way, he would get a relatively balance diet of meat (in the porridge) and veggie and carbohydrates (the rice).
When Dominic was younger, most of his food had to be pureed. I find it very useful to have a food processor (blender/miller) to do the pureeing. As he grew older, I just cooked the food until they were soft and mushy, yet having more texture than food puree. The food processor became less and less used, except when the food was too hard or tough. For veggies, instead of pureeing them like before, I use a knife to chop them. By the way, I have a chopping board that is dedicated to making Dominic’s food.
For fruits like apples, I puree them using a wonderful Japanese grater (see pic) that I bought from a Japanese department store. But because fruits like apples oxidise easily, I only grate them when I want to feed Dominic and don’t do it beforehand.
To cook the porridge base, I used to use the slow cooker to cook overnight. Recently, I bought a wonderful Thermos Pot (see pic) which basically does not use gas nor electricity and I don’t have to ‘watch it’. All I need to do is to boil the content and put the inner pot into the outer thermos pot and leave it for a few hours.
To freeze the porridge base, I store them in plastic containers that are microwaveable so that I can take them straight out of the freeze and microwave. If you are using the glass S26 bottles from the hospital to store your expressed breastmilk, you can also use them to store baby food when the required serving size is still small (when your baby first starts solids). However, do note that you should not fill it to the brim because the content will expand when frozen and the bottles will crack. My experience is to only fill up to 70%.
As for veggies and certain fruits (that do not oxidise easily, e.g. apricot), I puree/chop them and freeze them into ice cubes using ice cube trays. Once they are frozen, I will take them out and keep them in ziploc bags for storage.
I used to measure the exact amount of food per serving using measuring spoons. That was when I wanted to monitor Dominic’s food intake when he first started taking solids. After a while, I stopped doing that and just use my own estimation. However, in case you are interested to know, one ice cube is equivalent to one tablespoon, which is about 15ml.
Well, that’s about all the tools that I use to make baby food. I find specialised baby food makers are a waste of money. The manufacturers charge a premium for them (because they are specialised) when any household food processor will do. When your baby outgrows the food processor, you can still use the food processor for your normal cooking. Baby food makers usually don’t have the capacity nor the correct features for normal home use, so you would be paying more for less.
Needless to say, hygiene is very important when preparing baby food. That’s why I have a separate chopping board for baby food preparation. I also bought ice cube trays that come with covers. For those ice cube trays without covers, I will wrap them up in cling wrap before putting them into the freezer to freeze. I will not cover too much on the topic of hygiene as I think it is quite common sense.