Up to six months, babies should have formula or breast milk exclusively. Once they are ready for solid foods, though, their options widen considerably. Store-bought baby food can be more expensive than the food you make at home, but making baby food at home can be laborious and time-consuming. Which is easier, store-bought or homemade?

Here is a comparison of the two to help you make the most informed decision about what is best for you and your baby.

How Do I Know When My Baby is Ready For Solid Foods?

The World Health Organization recommends exclusively breastfeeding (or formula feeding) infants until six months of age for optimal health and development. Until six months of age, babies can get everything they need from their mothers.

Pediatricians look for developmental signs such as the baby being able to hold his head up, relaxing of the sucking reflex, being able to sit up on his own. Many of these signs are present between four and six months of age. Your baby may also begin to show an interest in food by this point.

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How Should I Start My Baby On Solid Foods?

When you begin giving your baby solid foods, start simply. A rice or grain-based cereal is a good way to go. You might also try applesauce or something similar. The key is to begin with simple foods that have only one ingredient. If there is a family history of food allergies, avoid giving those foods to the baby right away. Also, do not give a baby honey before he is a year old or cows’ milk unless the milk has been cultured into a product like yogurt.

What Are The Benefits of Homemade Baby Food?

Homemade baby foods have the benefit of costing less than store-bought foods. You are not paying for the processing and packaging that accompany those foods. Even better, you are not giving your baby a highly processed food. You have the benefit of knowing exactly what your baby is getting when you make it yourself.

What Are The Benefits of Store-Bought Foods?

Store-bought foods give busy moms the benefit of convenience. Making your own baby food can be very labor intensive. You must choose foods, wash them and cook them and then put them through a food processor to make sure they are pureed. With store-bought baby food, you only need to grab a few jars and go. This is especially convenient if you are a working parent and your baby goes to daycare.

What is the Cost Difference Between Store-Bought and Homemade Baby Food?

In a financial blog article, author and mom, Julia Scott, discussed her experience with making her own organic baby food and broke down the cost comparisons like this:

Organic store-bought baby foods sell for about $.69 per serving, while the store-bought non-organics were around $.53 per serving.

She was able to make organic baby food for an average of $.38 per serving. Her total for non-organic baby food made in her own kitchen was around $.23 per serving.

Scott also boasts that she is able to make her daughter a week’s worth of food in about an hour. Considering the savings, that’s not bad.

When it comes to feeding your baby, you want to get it right. You want to make sure you aren’t moving her too fast or giving her the wrong foods. Because this is such a foundational time in her development, you want to make sure she is getting the best nutrition.

On top of that, anything you can do to save money is also a bonus. This information can help you to make an informed decision so that you can give your baby a great start.

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