Homemade Baby Food; Our Guide To Making First Food Purées
Starting your baby on solid foods is such an enjoyable time full of new experiences and flavors for both you and baby! Homemade pureed organic baby food can be a wonderful way for you to introduce solid food to your baby. Many store bought baby foods are processed and contain ingredients to make them shelf stable. The flavors of store bought foods are often tart or bland and can contain artificial flavors and added sugar.
Making your own baby food at home can also be very cost effective and you will know exactly what is in it. We are going to look at the easiest fruits and veggies that you can use to make some baby purees.
As with all fruits and vegetables, please make sure to wash your foods before preparing them for the baby. Consult your pediatrician before starting solid foods and make sure to start with one food at a time to check for food allergies. Look for cues that your baby is ready to start foods and remember the saying, “food before one is just for fun!”
Beta Carotene For The Win!
Organic yams are some of the easiest to cook up for a baby! Bake whole yams (or sweet potatoes) in the oven at 400°F for around an hour depending on the size. Don’t forget to poke them with a fork a few times before baking (made that mistake once and my yam exploded in the oven… BIG MESS!) Once the yams are fork tender, take them out of the oven and let them rest until they’re cool enough to handle. You could just use a fork to mash up the yam but I prefer to put it in a blender or food processor at this point because they can be a little stringy.
Carrots are another wonderful root vegetable that is easy to make into baby food. I like to buy whole organic carrots, peel and steam them until fork tender. It’s not recommended to use the liquid from the cooking water, so when blending I usually add just a little bit of filtered water to help thin it out if it’s too thick. Butternut squash is another great option!
Gimme Some Green!
Green vegetables are important for vitamins, digestion and fiber. A great starter favorite is peas! For peas, we prefer to buy organic peas in the frozen food section. Sometimes these can be steamed in the bag that you purchased them in, otherwise you can steam them in any microwave safe dish or in a pot of water. Blend them or mash with a fork once they are finished cooking. Peas can be very thick so you may have to add a little bit of water to thin it out.
Green beans are another green food that we prefer to buy frozen and organic. Fresh beans are great too, but often I have a hard time finding them organic at the store. Broccoli is another good baby food choice for fresh or flash frozen vegetables. When the baby is a little bigger, try organic spinach for a great source of iron!
Let’s face it, babies like sweets too! Fruits are wonderful natural sweets that contain lots of vitamins and fiber! Bananas are also a wonderful first food! Bananas are great because you don’t have to cook them and they’re very quick to prepare. You can just mash the banana with a fork and often when preparing bananas we like to add some organic baby oatmeal to the mixture. Avocados are also another great mashable raw fruit!
Applesauce is also a good first food and not too difficult to make from scratch. If you don’t prefer to make it from scratch, store varieties are a great option but I prefer to find one that is made from apples grown inside the United States. With most tree fruits you can cook them down and purée them to make pretty much any type of seasonal purée you want baby to try! When the baby is a little older, you can try adding cinnamon to the puree!
Storing Your Homemade Baby Foods
Our favorite way to store baby food is by freezing it in ice cube trays and then once frozen transferring it to an airtight container and labeling it with what’s inside. These cubes defrost relatively quickly in the fridge and you can have delicious homemade baby food anytime! If sealed in a container, these baby food cubes should last 3-6 months in the freezer!
How Much Solid Food To Give Your Baby?
Breast milk or formula will continue to be your baby's main source of nutrition until age 1. You'll notice that your baby doesn't take in a lot of food during those first couple months of introduction and that's completely fine! This is the time to introduce them to new flavors and textures while also helping them learn how to start handling a spoon and fork.
In other words, solid foods should never replace breast milk or formula at this stage - think of it as a supplement instead. There's no reason to change your baby's breast or bottle feeding times or amounts just because you're introducing solid food. In fact, you really only need to be offering solid foods once per day in the beginning. As time goes on, you can breast or bottle feed first at mealtimes the way you always have.
You can continue to warm your baby's milk with a bottle warmer like the Baby's Brew and then offer food after. It may only be a couple of tiny spoonfuls initially, then later they will probably eat an entire meal.
You can also offer water at mealtimes after 6 months of age in a sippy cup. Though breast milk and formula have plenty of H2O to keep your baby hydrated, this is a great time for your baby to become more comfortable using a cup.
Have You Tried It?
Do you have some great baby food ideas? We would love to hear all of your ideas for babies first foods! Of course you can combine any of these also and make a more interesting purée for your baby. As a thickener we like to use organic baby oatmeal at our house, but there are other options available also like rice cereal. It does not add a whole lot of volume to the food but it just thickens it up enough if your food is a little on the thin side.
We hope that you have a wonderful time exploring new foods with your baby! Make sure you taste the foods too! For more ideas, check out some cookbooks for baby food recipes.
Q: What do you need to make homemade baby food?
A: An immersion blender or food processor can be helpful when preparing baby food purees. For softer foods, only a fork is needed. You’ll also need some storage containers to store your purees.
Q: How long can you store homemade baby food?
A: When frozen in an ice cube tray and transferred to an airtight container, you can store frozen baby food for up to 3 months. Fresh made baby food can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator safely for 3 days.
Q: Is homemade baby food better?
A: Depending on your preferences, homemade baby food can allow you to know exactly what is in the food you are feeding your baby. Using fresh ingredients that are nutrient rich are important in feeding your baby.
Q: Is homemade baby food safe?
A: As long as you prepare and store the food according to food safety guidelines, homemade baby food is perfectly safe. And since you know exactly what is in the food, you aren't worried about additives and preservatives that are added to store bought baby foods.
Q: Is it cheaper to make homemade baby food?
A: Making homemade baby food can absolutely be more cost efficient! Purchasing ingredients and making your own homemade foods can be much cheaper than buying premade foods. Often organic pouches of baby food can range from $1.50- $2 for just a few ounces of food.
Written by: Kristen Bickel
Kristen is a mom of 4 and an employee at The Baby’s Brew.