Making My Own Baby Food Makes Me Feel Like a Great Mom — But Is It Worth It?
There’s a lot to think about those first few weeks before giving birth. Aside from “I am very tired of being pregnant,” you think about how things are going to change when you have a baby — and, what you’ll be doing differently from your parents. Food is a big one. Aside from the formula versus breastfeeding debate (a fed baby is the real winner here, folks), there’s a lot of fear and concern on the internet about what types of real food and baby food purees you should feed your baby when your child is old enough to start experimenting with them.
And that’s why I kinda-sorta loved the baby food maker my dad got me for Christmas 2017. At that time, my daughter was eight months old, and I was feeling more confident with exploring the world of food outside of mashed bananas. Plus, the canned purees at the store were starting to get a little too expensive. Perfect solution, right?
All of a sudden, I envisioned myself as the ultimate baby food chef. I’d think up fruit and veggie combos that nobody had thought up before. I’d get my daughter to like peas! I’d’ make purees for my friends, and it’d be my “thing”! Maybe I’d open up an Etsy store, or have my own stand at the local farmer’s market!
The baby food maker didn’t take up a lot of room on the counter.
By the way, it was on the counter because I was going to use it every day. Spoiler alert: I didn’t. While my Cuisinart Baby was easy enough to clean, it still has parts. And all new moms know that dishwasher space runs out super quickly with a baby in the house. It’s still on the counter, because who knows? Maybe I’ll need to puree a carrot someday. Maybe I’ll need some applesauce ASAP. Maybe I have no room in the pantry to store it.
I felt good about it.
Just like home cooking, you feel great when you’re the person slicing the apples that your baby will eat that day. I knew exactly what was in her food. You feel like you’re in control of the situation, making sure your child gets to experience the joy of healthy food.
My dad knew that his gift was a success.
The process looks cool.
I mean, it does. Steam is involved.
The machine came with a manual that made me feel like a pro.
It came with recipes to try, which made me weirdly excited about the whole thing. That manual was like the baby food Bible and educated me on when a child is generally ready to try foods like pumpkin and fennel. So, it encouraged me to really get a bit crazier with the process than I might have otherwise.
It was an excuse to have a ton of fresh fruit in the house.
My household usually has a banana or two lying around, or an old bag of Red Delicious apples, but my husband and I don’t eat fruit as much as we should. We’re better with vegetables, but could still use a little work. By pureeing my own food, I had a lot of options for myself, as well. And I also was a bit more cautious about how fresh the produce really was.
Here were the cons.
It didn’t make as much as I thought it would. All of these peas and carrots?
One can. Just one.
I haven’t seen the Diane Keaton movie Baby Boom in a long time, but whenever I think of it, I think of canning applesauce. I think of having a whole fridge filled with my own creations. At one point, I researched whether or not it’s advisable to freeze the purees since obviously this was my “thing” now and I’d be pureeing up a storm. Remember how I mentioned the machine was small? Yeah. I got three cans worth of food per round if I was lucky.
The fresh fruit went bad a lot.
Okay, yeah, I’m no produce expert. I think I can get a good read on what I purchase, but fruit can sometimes be a bit tricky. I once had a whole bag of peaches go moldy just a day after buying them, and it literally ruined my day. Why? Well…
It wasn’t as cost-efficient as I thought.
Turns out, it’s hard to reuse baby food jars.
In my head, I’d wash and recycle the ones I had bought at the store, and then fill them with my own concoctions. But, it seems like this is much harder than you’d assume. The labels are tough to peel off, and the lids didn’t screw on flawlessly. I tried other containers, but…you know how it goes. Once your initial vision is off, you kind of lose interest. (Plus, Diane Keaton canned! She didn’t “spoon into specifically-sized plastic Tupperware.”)
In pureeing my own food, I realized something very important — time is essential. In fact, since becoming a mom, I understood that desire to have an extra hour or two in the day. So when it comes down to it, pureeing is fun and makes me feel a little more connected to the process of feeding my child, which I’ve missed since we stopped nursing, but it’s also nice to grab a package from the store and use that extra time having more time to interact with my kid in a way that’s not just food-related. And she seems pretty fond of that, as well.
So, should you buy a baby food processor and puree your own baby food? It depends on your lifestyle. It’s fun, and if you have the produce to spare, it’s worth giving a shot. But it’s not something you’ll use for long, especially when your baby starts experimenting with gumming solids as the month’s progress.