The first four to six months with a baby goes by fast! As they say: the days are long and the years are short with kids. Just when you’ve gotten the hang of breastfeeding or making bottles, it’s time to introduce actual food.
So, the time has come for your little one to eat solids. As a parent, it’s natural to wish to give your baby the very best nutrition. So, why not make your very own baby food?
Instead of shop-bought versions that have been commercially prepared and made, you could instead show off your culinary skills and come up with your own recipes.
I remember the day my son turned 6 months. It was like a rollercoaster ride of emotions… my child will finally eat, which made me feel really excited but at the same time, I was wary because he won’t need me as much as we’re used to anymore. But each day that passed by made me realize that it’s an opportunity for me to enjoy mealtimes with him. I diligently prepared his meals every day (he loved acorn squash baby food so much), not only because I wanted to save money but also because I knew that what he was eating was clean and healthy.
Making my son’s baby food was a great experience for me as a mother, that’s why I made sure that I had the right equipment in making his baby food such as a baby food blender. I tried many blenders for baby food before I found one that I loved.
Is your baby ready to transition to solid foods? Your pediatrician would give you the best guidance on that, based on your child’s development. If you have the go-ahead, then you may be wondering how to make your own baby food at home.
There are no set-in-stone rules as to when your baby is ready to make the transition to solids and the type of food they should start with.
If you’re not under pressure for time, you could certainly think about creating your very own baby food for your little one. Although commercial foods are now better than what was available a few decades ago, there’s no harm in starting from scratch. This way, you can see what actually goes into your baby’s food…and you’ll stop asking yourself ‘ how much does baby cereal cost’?!
Making baby food at home is a clever way of making sure your baby isn’t missing out on the very best nutrition to aid their development. In most cases, home-made foods can be just as tasty and nutritious as the shop-bought versions.
As you’ll be paying close attention to what’s been put into the mixture, you’ll have a greater chance of ensuring your baby remains in good health.
We’ve got all the steps covered here.
I love the idea of homemade baby food because I can choose exactly what ingredients to use. Once you get a good system down, it’s super gratifying to make baby food at home. Plus, it actually saves money!
Baby food from scratch means you can serve truly tasty and nutritious food. You’re able to choose the freshest, healthiest ingredients that you know appeal to your baby.
In addition, you can make sure the bad stuff — preservatives, pesticides, and additives — stay out of your baby’s belly.
Making your own baby foods has the added benefit of exposing your baby to more flavors, ensuring he or she becomes an adventurous eater later in life.
This article will help you learn how to make your own baby food, including:
- Baby food ingredient prep
- Cooking, pureeing and storing baby food
- Baby food recipes for 6-12 months of age
- Tools and baby food recipe books
Let’s dive into the world of homemade baby food!
How to Make Baby Food
Here’s the scoop on how to make your own baby food, DIY-style. So it may seem a little daunting, but it’s far easier than you may think. You can keep it as simple as using fresh produce, grains, and meat that you already have in your cupboards.
First, you’ll need to know when to start solid foods with your child.
Doctors say that most babies are ready for solid foods between four and six months of age. Talk to your pediatrician first.
You still have plenty of time to gather equipment and research baby food recipes before you have to launch your home baby food assembly line. Hence, this article and Amazon Prime.
‘Homemade’ baby food may seem fancy, but it’s as simple as mashing or pureeing what you’re serving to the rest of the family. All you need to keep in mind is the level of nutrition for your baby.
In fact, this clever tactic could prevent the awkward toddler stage occurring (when they turn their noses up at everything and throw it up the walls)…
All you’ll need to make baby food at home is:
- a blender for baby food, food processor, or stick blender
- a baby food steamer
- a few ice cube trays
- freezer containers or bags
- fresh, wholesome food
When you’re ready to begin, there are just a few steps to learn before you’re on your way to preparing delicious, nutritious, easy-to-make baby food.
Let’s go over each step in order.
Making Baby Food for Age 6 Months and Up
These steps are for the simplest purees that first-time solid food eaters would enjoy.
While preparation and storage will remain the same for all ages, older babies can handle more texture and flavor in their foods. Therefore, some recipes for older babies will include spices for seasoning. Generally, you have to gradually introduce food. Start from the bland and smooth texture and then work your way to sliced pieces that your little bubba can hold while eating.
1. Baby Food Prep
The best way to make your own baby food is to start with organic, wholesome ingredients. For all produce, you’ll need to:
- carefully wash it,
- peel it, and
- remove any seeds or pits.
While out shopping, make sure you buy the freshest and best quality fruits and vegetables you can find, as they will have the best nutritional value. Choose organic produce when possible for making baby food, especially for the “dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables. These are the ones determined for 2019 to contain the most pesticides:
Any fruits or vegetables that are grown close to the ground should be handled with special care, since they could also have Clostridium botulinum spores or be contaminated with other harmful bacteria from the soil.
I always use an organic produce wash like Fit Organic Fruit and Vegetable Wash. It removes 98% more pesticides and waxes than water alone.
If you’re preparing meats, remove all skin, bones, gristle and fat before processing.
Always keep foods at a safe temperature. Refrigerated foods should be kept at a temperature of 4-5 degrees Celsius, while frozen foods should be kept at 0 degrees Celsius. It would be best to purchase a thermometer to keep a check on the temperature, just in case either of your appliances become faulty.
Wash all food before preparing and cooking and remove any moldy or bad section out of the food with a knife. It would also be best to cut away any excess fat from meat. Ensure you wash your hands thoroughly before preparing baby food, especially if you have handled raw meat.
Last but not least, Use separate chopping boards for meat and vegetables, to prevent contamination and the spread of bacteria.
2. How to Cook Baby Food
All baby foods should be cooked until very tender. In order to retain the greatest number of vitamins and minerals, steaming and microwaving with just a little water is the best practice.
If you’re cooking fish, meat, poultry, or eggs, be sure to cook everything to the proper temperature. Well-done is a good standard. Babies are more susceptible to food poisoning contracted from undercooked foods.
Make sure to remove and prepare the baby’s portion separately from the rest of the family’s food.
Babies are sensitive to salt and spices, so you’ll want to keep these to a minimum or remove them entirely, in the case of younger babies.
Equipment and supplies
Most of the appliances you have in your kitchen will come in useful when it comes to preparing and cooking baby food, however, there may be a few extras that you’ll also need. These include:
Food blender: A blender for baby food or baby grinder machine such as the Evla’s Baby Food Maker is a key tool in purifying your baby’s food. Blending the mixture will smooth down any lumps and bumps to prevent choking. As your child gets older and can eat foods with a larger texture, you can simply use a fork to mash the food by hand.
Steamer: Simply add the steamer to a pan filled with water, so that important nutrients aren’t lost during cooking. This is achieved by separating the vegetables from the water so that nutrients aren’t later strained away.
Do I need to stress about nitrates?
Luckily, no. If you don’t know what nitrates are, they’re a type of chemical present in vegetables, soil, and water that can be a problem when foods are served raw.
It wouldn’t be recommended to buy raw food for babies under the age of three months old. This is due to the fact that high levels of nitrates could be dangerous to very young babies.
Don’t panic too much. As medical professionals advise not to feed babies solid foods under the age of 4 months, this shouldn’t be a worry. By this time, the digestive system will have developed enough to be able to digest solids and cope with the nitrates within vegetables.
3. How to Puree Baby Food
Let your food cool a bit first, then puree. For pureeing, you can use a stick or immersion blender for the fastest clean-up and ease of use.
Of course, a food processor will work as well, or a traditional blender, depending on which you have handy. I use our Ninja Professional to make baby food. Plus, it gets a ton of use for smoothies that my older toddlers drink (gotta hide those veggies somewhere!).
If you’re serious and plan on consistently making fresh baby food for your little ones (current and future), consider investing in one of these baby food makers.
When pureeing fresh fruit, its own juice is enough to add sweetness. Never add corn syrup, sugar, or any other sweetener to your homemade baby food. Honey is especially a no-no for babies under age 1, because of the risk of botulism.
You can add breast milk or formula if you like, and it’s fine to puree two foods together, such as apples and sweet potatoes.
4. Adding Flavor to Your Baby’s Food
Blending fruits and vegetables to create a pureed mixture doesn’t necessarily need any flavorings at this age.
I wouldn’t recommend adding salt or sugar to your baby’s homemade food. At such a young age, your little one’s taste buds are still in the development phase, so they haven’t yet acquired their ‘sweet tooth’ and aren’t too fussed about salty tastes either.
However, if you do want to add a tasty kick to their meal, you could always include delicious herbs and spices such as cinnamon.
5. How to Store Baby Food
It wouldn’t be reasonable to try and make your baby’s food fresh every single day, but the good news is that you can store it. Purees you prepare yourself can be stored in the fridge for up to four days and in the freezer for up to 3 months.
The easiest way to store homemade baby food is in the freezer. Using a clean ice-cube tray, freeze the puree in small portions, covered with plastic wrap.
Once the food is frozen, pop the cubes out and place them into freezer-safe, airtight, food-safe containers. Each cube is about one ounce of food.
You could also plop portions of puree onto a lined cookie sheet with a tablespoon or cookie scoop, freeze, then transfer to food-safe freezer containers to store in your freezer.
I love these handy and highly-rated silicone molds for storing homemade baby food. These are the best baby food freezer trays.
All frozen baby food should be used within one month of freezing, so be sure to label your containers.
Need to take baby food on-the-go? These baby food pouches from Infantino are so convenient and easy to use!
If you’re planning on storing baby food in the fridge, It would be best to use labeled single-serving containers that you can use on a daily basis.
Do remember, that as soon as the baby’s food is pureed, you’ll need to store it immediately if you’re not going to feed at that time.
Now that you know how to make your own baby food, let’s look at some simple, but delicious recipes that will make your hungry little one smile!
6. Serving Your Baby’s Food
Always select the ‘defrost’ button on your microwave rather than ‘cook’ and test the temperature before serving the food to your baby.
Be wary of the temperature of the food. Never serve any warmer than the standard body temperature (98.6°F / 37°C) as there is the risk of burning the inside of their mouth.
Do be extra cautious when using microwaves for cooking your baby’s meals. This type of heat can heat up certain sections of the food over others. Always give the mixture a good stir and allow it to sit and cool for a few minutes before feeding.
Section off the amount of food you think your baby is likely to eat per feed. The reason for this is, that the salvia off your baby’s spoon dipped back into the mixture may cause bacteria to grow over a few days. Especially if you’re planning on bringing along some baby food on the go, any excess food from the serving should be thrown away.
Best Baby Food Recipes
Below are some of the best baby food recipes from around the web for you to try with your own little one. To make it easy, I’ve divided them into “Stages,” just like the ones prepared foods use.
Just click the link and learn how to make each delicious baby food on the list!
Stage 1 Baby Food Recipes (4-5 Months)
Stage 1 foods are the first step in solid foods, a pretty thin puree that’s good for 4-6 months of age:
These recipes are a great start for baby. They’re fresh and wholesome without added spices, salt, or sweeteners. It should be bland in taste and smooth in texture.
Stage 2 Baby Food Recipes (6-8 Months)
Stage 2 covers 6-8 months and adds a bit more thickness to encourage chewing:
These recipes add a bit more interest to baby’s food choices. You’ll see we’ve added grains into this batch, and baby is exploring other flavors like subtle spices and textures, like avocado. This will help them learn to chew.
Stage 3 Baby Food Recipes (9-12 Months)
Stage 3 foods can be eaten from 9-12 months. These have more texture, added spices, and even tiny chunks to keep baby’s taste buds alive and interested:
These recipes are the last baby food before your little one starts eating their “big girl” or “big boy” foods fit for toddlers. Time flies!
Making Your Own Baby Food Books
Looking to have oodles of yummy baby food recipes on hand? Take a look at these top-rated recipe books:
- The Big Book of Organic Baby Food: Baby Purées, Finger Foods, and Toddler Meals For Every Stage
- Real Baby Food: Easy, All-Natural Recipes for Your Baby and Toddler
- Fast & Fresh Baby Food Cookbook: 120 Ridiculously Simple and Naturally Wholesome Baby Food Recipes
Benefits of Making Your Own Baby Food — For Both Baby and You!
Learning how to make your own baby food is not only good for baby. Making fresh, nutritious meals for your little one ensures no pesticides, preservatives, or other additives are on the menu.
Making your baby food at home also saves you a lot of money. In fact, it can save you about 50%, no matter whether you’re buying organic or non-organic food.
When you’ve got children at home, your budget is important.
Learning how to make baby food can contribute to savings and provide the peace of mind that knowing how your baby’s food is sourced, prepared, and stored can bring.
As a round-up, here are some of the key reasons to make your own baby food:
- It’s more efficient than buying from the store
- You can tailor the mixture with your own flavors and textures to suit your baby
- Your baby can try out a wider range of fruit, veg and meat
- It’s quick, easy and can save you a lot of cash
What is your favorite recipe? Do you have any great tips on how to make baby food?
Share in the comments below!