Organic baby food must adhere to strict guidelines to be labeled as such. The USDA requires at least 95% of the ingredients in this kind of baby food to be made without antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, irradiation or bioengineering. The other 5% of ingredients must be unavailable in organic form.
What does Organic Mean?
The ingredients in organic baby food come from organic farms that must adhere to particular soil and water conservation techniques and treat animals humanely. If you want purely organic ingredients, you must choose foods labeled “100% organic.”
Baby Food Health and Nutrition
Natural versus Organic Baby Food
It is important to understand that foods can be “all natural” but not “organic.” All natural foods can still contain pesticide residues, Genetically Modified Organisms and other potentially harmful agents. Some foods carrying the label “natural” contain very unnatural ingredients that are derived from natural foods, such as high fructose corn syrup or modified food starch.
Storing Organic Baby Food
Some organic baby food makers jar the food with natural preservatives, making it convenient to store before use. Other manufacturers prefer to omit preservatives altogether, requiring you keep the food in the refrigerator. Frozen baby food cubes are becoming popular with parents because they are easy to order online and are kept in the freezer until ready to use. Whether you choose jarred, chilled or frozen, consider the environmental impact of keeping the foods cool on the grocers shelf and then at home before you make a decision.
Making Organic Baby Food
Some parents are starting to make their own organic baby food with the organic foods they already buy for the rest of the family. For older babies, the method is exceedingly easy. You simply take the left-over food, immediately after dinner, and place it in some ice cube trays and put them in the freezer. Take out the appropriate cubes at mealtime for baby and reheat in the microwave or on low heat in a saucepan.
What Babies Want
Younger babies need simpler foods, so it may be better to do a little special cooking for the little munchkins. Left over meats are fine to set aside for later as long as they do not contain excessive seasoning. You may wish to cook one piece of lightly or unseasoned meat at dinnertime and set it aside for the baby. Cut the meat into fine pieces or put through a meat grinder before freezing into cubes.
To make vegetables, blanch or boil them. Add a little water if needed and then put the food through the puree setting on your blender. Pour the pureed food into ice cube trays and freeze. Make baby food from fruit by halving it and placing it cut side down in a baking dish with one inch of filtered water. Bake the fruit at 400 degrees F and then put it through the blender before freezing. Grains should be rinsed first, and then cooked as usual.
The foods that babies enjoy most include carrots, broccoli, butternut or buttercup squash, strawberries, blueberries, apples, pears, peaches, bananas, salmon, tuna, chicken, eggs, rice, barley, couscous and quinoa. Sometimes, you may need to add just a touch of brown sugar to make the vegetables palatable for your baby.
The nice thing about making your own organic baby food is that you know the ingredients are 100% organic and that they are fresh. In addition, making your own can save you about 50% on the cost of baby food. When you cook baby food with the foods you buy anyway, it feels like you are getting the food for free.