The best way to be sure your toddler or baby gets the healthiest, best food possible is to make it yourself. That may seem a daunting task, but with today’s processing options, you can open your child up to whole new worlds of flavor and exciting tasty adventures in just a few minutes a day!

One of the most worrisome trends in baby and toddler foods is the idea that our children need to eat an entirely different food palate than we do. It is true that there are some basic rules to remember when you’re starting your child on puréed foods. Nuts and strawberries (some say bananas as well) are usually verboten until after age 2, and it is often a good idea to introduce spices a few at a time. You’re educating a palate for life, and as much variety as possible is one of the best ways to ensure your child enjoys a wide variety of foods, and lifelong health.

A few caveats on DIY baby food: Get a good processor that is easy to clean. Cleaning thoroughly between foods is critical. Also invest in either hi-temp vacuum-sealing plastic ware or glass baby food jars for storage. Refrigeration is mandatory for storing, and only for two days at a time, so it really is best to process whatever you’re serving the rest of the family for dinner (squash, potatoes, spinach, etc), and store the leftovers in single serving amounts. It may take some practice to get it right, but you need to keep just the amount on hand you know your child will eat in a 48 hour period.

It’s tempting to make up lots of extra foods, and some can be frozen for a few days or a week, but for the freshest, healthiest meals for your baby, using fresh, organic, produce is best. You can screen out fillers, antibiotics, and hormones before you buy and ensure your child’s health, appetite, and palate for years to come.