Use Glass Storage Containers
In an effort to stock up on homemade options, most families puree big batches, then separate them into ice cube trays for storage. While the resulting squares are perfect serving size for tiny tummies, parents who want to avoid plastic can either troll the Internet for hours in search of stainless steel ice cube trays (not easy to find!) or stock up on glass storage containers.
Canning jars are an obvious option, as they come in many sizes, and double as great on-the-go carriers. Reusing glass baby food jars is another excellent option. There are also now many small sizes of other glass containers on the market, perfect for this sort of prep work. Just leave enough room for the food to expand if you're freezing, and so it doesn't touch the lid, which is usually (unmarked) plastic.
Bonus: After the babe is eating like other members of the family, these will still be useful, unlike random plastic items only intended for baby's earliest foods. There's nothing less green than kiddie gear that is only designed to work for a few months.
Super Baby Food — the Book
This must-have book by Ruth Yaron ($15.96 at BarnesandNoble.com) doesn't touch on organics really, and her suggestions to reuse plastic containers and bags to save money are outdated at best by the information we now all have on what can migrate out of certain plastics, including plastics meant for one use only, and into your baby's food. But her food ideas are helpful and a lot different than what you'll hear from your pediatrician.
She suggests making your own (organic, I say) brown rice cereal, since what you find on the shelves in boxes has been sitting there for who knows how long, and explains that the nutrients are lost shortly after being pulverized. We did make our own, and we also have her to thank for putting some protein-filled whole grains we'd forgotten about or never even bothered with back into all of our lives (millet, amaranth, etc.).
Follow it rule for rule if you're interested, or tailor it to your own needs (that's what we did). Either way, it's absolutely worth a read. Don't neglect to cross-reference her list of what foods to introduce at what age with your own pediatrician's suggestions.
Use the Blender (and the Steamer)
These are probably items you already have in your kitchen. Use them.
If you're buying new, resist the urge to buy teeny tiny ones that will only be useful for a few months at best. Purees are a brief stage of life, and a blender lasts a long time. The greenest option is to use an appliance that will last the longest and be used the most.
Anything you can steam you can blend into a puree. Certain things don't even need to be steamed (nectarines in season? heaven). And that's homemade baby-food-making 101.
Join a CSA Farm
Organic food is a must for growing babies. Pound for pound they're taking in more of the pesticide residues than adults are. Don't skimp.
The cheapest way to get local/organic food is to get a share in a Community Supported Agriculture farm. To find one near you go to localharvest.org.
Use Real Spoons (and Regular Old Plates)
What's the point of plastic baby spoons? I haven't quite figured it out. Especially not the ones that change colors if the food is hot. Um, can't you use your finger or your own mouth to test that?! Generations before us certainly managed not to scald the kids.
Speaking of, if you can get your grandmother or your parents to find old silver baby spoons and bequeath them to you, do it. (Shine with toothpaste only!) If not, the small stainless steel ones sold at just about every kitchen supply store as cocktail or espresso spoons are the perfect size, not to mention more attractive.
There's also no reason to feed babies on plastic plates. Most kiddie ware is melamine — not exactly the greatest material, as we've all recently learned. Ceramic and glass works just fine until the tots are sitting up and banging everything around. At that point, tried and true stainless steel prep bowls, enamelware, and sturdier ceramics do the trick.
What to Do When You Can't DIY
In terms of store-bought baby food, organic is also the only way to go. I will repeat that: Organic. Is. A. Must.
Jarred is the least nutritious of all prepared baby food options. It's very heavily cooked and processed so it can sit on shelves for a lot longer than the six months your baby has been in the world. This is why there are so many frozen baby food options of late.
If you're concerned about nutrients, frozen — if done right after picking ("flash frozen") — can be more nutritious than a veggie that has been flown, trucked, shipped, and is now languishing in a supermarket bin. Some markets also now stock "fresh" refrigerated purees.
Whether it's fresh, frozen, or boxed on a shelf, one rule always applies: read ingredients. Look out for long ingredient lists; the shorter, the purer. Read carefully for added sugars, salt, color, and preservatives. You want to feed your baby the most unadulterated version of whatever you're feeding her — as close to the whole food that came out of the earth as possible. An apple puree ideally should only contain apples.
No Time to DIY? Try These Brands
Since I last forced the babe to taste through frozen and fresh organic baby foods for Cookie Magazine, many more have come on the market. While I truly believe making single purees for the early eater is something any parent can and should do, I appreciate the following for adding protein-rich whole grains to their for-older-babies multi-ingredient chunkier purees. I certainly applaud anyone putting in spices and real flavors — the earlier you introduce kids to real food you like to eat, the better.
Taste Bud is good in this department, making use of quinoa, figs, olives, and spices.