Introducing solids into your baby's diet gets Junior from breast milk or formula at about six months old to eating appropriate family foods by 12 months. But you don't have to spend a fortune on baby food in jars and tubes. You can cater to your bub's dietary needs cheaply, quickly and easily at home. And if you make the food yourself, you can make sure your baby is getting the right mix of vegies, grains and meat, while also preparing them for the solids you'll soon be feeding him or her (and cleaning off the walls).
So how do make your own baby food?
- Puréeing or mashing what the family is eating is the simplest solution, as long as your whole family has a healthy diet.
- Try not to mix too many flavours together at first — try single ingredients or simple combinations.
- Gradually moving to chunkier textures and finger foods is important. If you keep your baby on soft, smooth foods for too long, eating problems can develop.
Salt or sugar?
You don't need to add sugar or salt to your baby's food (manufacturers can't add salt to baby foods). Remove your baby's portion first if you salt the rest of the family's food and go easy on salty ingredients like cheese. Choose low-salt versions of creamed corn, baked beans and tuna.
Follow safe food handling principles stringently — babies are particularly vulnerable to food poisoning. For home-prepared foods, the Food Safety Information Council's factsheet Protecting tiny tummies offers good advice.