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Homemade or Store-Bought: Which Food Is the Best for My Baby?

A mother feeding her baby homemade baby food.

One of the many challenging decisions to make as a new parent is whether you go the do-it-yourself route or purchase premade baby food. Let us lay out the positive and negative aspects of each.

Is Homemade or Premade Food Best for My Baby?

Having a baby comes with hundreds of tough decisions you’ll need to make. On top of that, you’ll have many people swaying you in each direction, making it difficult to settle with the right choice.

When you introduce solids to your baby for the first time, you’ll have the option of making baby food or purchasing it already made. Well, we’re here to tell you that the best choice is whatever works for you and your family.

Check out the pros and cons of either making your own pureed baby food or purchasing premade puree from the grocery store. We hope this helps in making your decision.

Homemade Baby Food

Making baby food can be a fun journey all on its own. You get to be a chef and create safe and yummy new flavors for your baby to try.

Whether you are introducing avocado or trying carrots for the tenth time, it’s always a messy ride. Here are some upsides and downsides to making homemade baby food for your little one.

Homemade Baby Food Pros

  • One of the best parts of cooking and pureeing baby food is that you know exactly what you’re putting in it. If you want only fresh and organic ingredients, then you have the power to throw it in the blender.
  • Making baby food is also more cost-effective. You can buy veggies and fruits in bulk and on sale, and cook large quantities at a time, which can last for days.
  • You can keep your baby food for up to a month if you choose to freeze it. Do so by adding pureed food to ice cube trays; when they’re frozen, transfer them to baggies and label.

Homemade Baby Food Cons

  • From washing and peeling to steaming and pureeing, the process of doing it yourself is undoubtedly a time-consuming activity. When you don’t have a lot of time on your hands, going homemade can be daunting.
  • Making baby food can also be a messy process, which doesn’t help the time-consuming part. If you aren’t a fan of working in the kitchen, then you may not be used to the dishes that could pile up in the process.
  • Many people boil their fruits and veggies, which removes a lot of healthy nutrients. According to registered dietitian, Franziska Spritzler, when vegetables like broccoli are boiled, up to 50 percent of the vitamin C is lost in the process.
  • Unfortunately, you aren’t able to safely store homemade baby food as long as the jarred stuff you buy at the store. You can only store it in a freezer for up to a month.

Jarred Baby Food

If you are interested in getting baby food right from the shelf, but wondering if it’s the right choice for your baby, here what you need to know.

Today, many baby food brands cook and preserve jarred food in much safer methods, so some of what you might have heard in the past could be old news. Many companies stay away from preservatives, for example, and genetically modified organisms, making most jarred baby food natural and nutritional.

Examples of Gerber baby food on a white background.

Jarred Baby Food Pros

  • Convenience is the best part about nourishing your baby with food from a jar. You can purchase them right from any grocery store and keep it at room temperature for easy storing. Once you open the container, you’ll need to put it in the fridge.
  • When you purchase jarred baby food, you’ll also notice the stages are marked on each container. You can easily decide which consistency is best for your little one based on each stage and the age of your baby.
  • Another benefit to pre-jarred baby food is that you get to provide your baby with so many fun and healthy varieties. You might not have apricot, spinach, oats, and sweet potato at home, but one jar of baby food might offer that nutritional combination.
  • According to Beech-Nut, their brand of naturals baby food is 100 percent natural, and most are Non-GMO Project verified. The stage one Beech-Nut Naturals Banana Baby Food jar is made with real banana and a bit of lemon to preserve the freshness. Gerber First Foods Banana Baby Food is also made with real fruit, no artificial flavors or colors, and is non-GMO.

Jarred Baby Food Cons

  • Jarred food is super convenient to grab off the shelf and throw in the pantry, but unfortunately, the cost adds up, especially once your baby begins eating more solids during the day.
  • The packaging used for baby foods may not always be the most earth-friendly if you aren’t recycling. However, you can reuse them for other DIY crafts. For example, you can paint the baby food jar caps and use them to store spices or use them as dressing containers for packed lunches.
  • According to Beech-Nut, not all of their products are non-GMO. However, they are working with the Non-GMO Project to pursue those that have not yet gotten the seal of approval.

Baby Food Pouches

Baby food pouches are super trendy today because they are easy to store and can be taken anywhere on the go. Like most things, there are positives and negative opinions involved with the product.

Baby Food Pouch Pros

  • They are super easy to store or take on the go without the risk of broken glass.
  • They are the perfect snack to give to your little one when you don’t have time to put something together.
  • Many pouches offer superfoods like quinoa, kale, and sweet potato. No wonder parents love these.

Baby Food Pouch Cons

  • Jarred baby food is pricey, but pouches can be even more expensive. Look out for sales and coupons if you plan to go this route.
  • Most pouches have a sweet taste and don’t truly offer new textures and flavors for your little one to try. This might lead to bad eating habits and compromise the development of eating skills.
  • Opting always to use pouches can create issues down the road if your baby prefers only thin pureed food. So while these can be a lifesaver down the road, you might be better off using it sparingly or as an emergency snack.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics has announced a recall on the pouch toppers in the past due to the risk of a choking hazard.

Whether you decide to make all of your baby’s meals right at home, or you choose that jarred food is a better option for you and your family, we back you up. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Parenting is tough, but you’ve got this.

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »
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