Homemade baby food: Allergy concerns

We've started feeding our six-month-old son with commercial baby food, but would like to feed him homemade baby food. He is quite sensitive and seems allergic to some foods (sweet potatoes and bananas). Our question is: what vegetables and fruits can we prepare for him? We read that citrus fruits are highly allergenic. Is it safe to store homemade baby food in the freezer using commercial baby food jars (we have quite a few now which we want to recycle).

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Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

Citrus fruits are on the list of most common allergens. However, citrus fruits often cause food sensitivities (an nonimmune system response) because of the high level of acid in them. Because of this dual problem, it is a good idea to hold off on introducing citrus until later in infancy, when the digestive and immune system are both more mature. There are several other fruits that you can prepare for your son that are not in the citrus family.

Because of his propensity towards allergic reactions, be sure to offer them one at a time, with several days in between new introductions. Try applesauce, peaches, pears, apricots, papayas, mangos, and avocados. Cooking the fruit first may help. Stay away from berries for a little while longer as they too often cause food allergies. For vegetables, cook and put through a baby mill- carrots, squash, pumpkin, potatoes, peas, broccoli, spinach and green beans.

It is safe to reuse baby food jars so long as you have sterilized them prior to refilling and that they are well sealed in the freezer. The problem with commercial baby food jars is that their lids do not reseal well. This can cause air and vapor (via sublimation) to travel in and out, which will lead rapidly to freezer burn and lower quality food. Remember too, that food expands as its freezes and so you will need to not quite fill the jars, other wise you risk breakage or cracking of the glass.

I think a better method of freezing is the ice-cube tray method. Put homemade foods into ice cube trays. Pop them out when frozen and store in date marked, zip lock baggies. The food will keep better this way, plus you can better control the portion size, since you do not have to thaw out a whole jar if you only want a few tablespoons. Hopefully you can recycle the baby food jars at your local trash collectors, or save them for shop items like tacks and nails, or craft projects like buttons etc.

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