Organic Baby Food: Buy or Make?

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When you begin introducing solids to your infant, you have a lot of decisions to make. If you’re uncomfortable feeding your baby traditional jarred foods from the grocery store, will you opt for organic baby foods or consider making your own?

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) “Certified Organic” seal acknowledges that the crops used in making foods are compliant with environmental standards and free of synthetics or modified genetics. This standard should make you feel comfortable purchasing organic baby foods, but making your own baby food provides you with even more control over the purity of every morsel that goes into your child’s mouth.

The Pediatricians Call

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) acknowledges that organic food maintains lower toxin levels, but the AAP points out that nutritional value is the key. Buy conventional foods—fruits, veggies and healthy grains—and consider your values before making decisions about organic food:

Examine your food budget and decide if there is room to add sometimes-pricey organic food purchases and keep the pantry stocked with healthy foods.

Shop around and consider only buying some foods as organic, specifically ones experts recommend, such as the “dirty dozen,” the 12 foods the Environmental Working Group has deemed the most contaminated in terms of pesticide levels. In 2015, apples, peaches and nectarines led the list.

Store Bought or Homemade?

Organic foods are safer foods when considering toxins, soil erosion and pollution levels, and genetic modifications. Higher standards means added costs to production and farming practices. After making the budget, consider these additional points when deciding if, when, and how to buy organic products for your baby:

Cost. Remember the cost in terms of chemical intake, but also remember both conventional and organic store bought foods can contain the nutrients babies need.

Space. If you have the financial and physical room to buy organic baby food in bulk, then stock up to save a few cents a jar. The same rule applies to making baby food with organic products.

Time. A quick and easy tip is to use in-season vegetables and fruits you are already eating, such as sweet potatoes or green beans. Block off time and use leftovers to make baby food in batches.

Wholesome. When you buy organic and then make your own baby food, the ingredient list shortens tremendously, as do the additives, fillers and unknowns.

Homemade Baby Food Basics

  1. Cook organic fruit or vegetables by your preferred method—steaming is often best, but the microwave is an option, too.
  2. Consider buying a food processor to thoroughly blend foods. Babies newest to eating solid foods will need thin and smooth purees, while more experienced eaters can try blends with smaller chunks of solid food. Using a food processor will allow you to easily control the texture of the foods you’re making. You can thin out the solid foods with a liquid, such as breast milk or water.
  3. If you’re storing the food for later use, place blended foods into ice trays and freeze. Once frozen, the food cubes can be stored in containers or freezer bags, allowing single servings to easily be taken from the freezer and thawed as needed.

Did You Know?

> Beware of nitrates. advises not to serve homemade carrots, green beans, spinach or squash during early infancy. These foods have higher levels of nitrates, plant-based chemicals that can lead to anemia.

> Avoid preparing foods made with honey, as honey can cause botulism in young babies. Wait until your child is at least a year old before introducing honey.

> Making baby food allows you to seamlessly introduce food textures—and new food blends—to your baby. If your baby likes sweet potatoes, you can easily introduce new foods such as apricots or bananas by adding them to a well-known favorite.

Schedule doctor visits for your child online at! Day or night, schedule appointments for next day and beyond with pediatricians Alan Brown, M.D., or Bird Gilmartin, M.D., here.

Drs. Brown and Gilmartin are members of the medical staff at Evanston Regional Hospital.