There are numerous benefits to making your own baby food: it’s economical, environmentally-friendly, very healthy for baby — after all, you know exactly what goes into it — and it will help baby develop their taste buds to the “grown up” food you already prepare in your home.
Making your own baby food is a lot easier than you think. When kids are introduced to table food around 6 months old, parents want to give them the best food with which to start. However, parents often feel stumped about where to begin: pureed fruit, veggies, or oatmeal? There is no right or wrong answer. You can give your baby what you are eating for a meal, but pureed/mashed and diluted to get the right consistency.
Here is a basic baby food recipe you can make at home and modify with any number of foods:
- Vegetables like carrots, green peas, broccoli, cauliflower, squash, pumpkin puree (not the pie filling), or tomato sauce
- Fruits like banana, no sugar added applesauce, or dried fruits like prunes, raisins, cranberries, cherries and apricots
- Protein like chicken, beef, fish or beans
- Grain like plain oatmeal
- Liquid like breast milk or water
For vegetables, steam the vegetables until they are soft and mash with a fork or potato masher. Place veggies in pot, bowl or blender. (For veggies already purchased pureed, like pumpkin puree or tomato sauce, you have saved yourself a step!) Add enough liquid and blend/mix to get the right consistency, then serve.
For fruits, mash bananas with a fork. Reconstitute dried fruits by pouring enough hot water to completely cover the fruit in the bowl. Let sit for 10-15 minutes, and then blend. Add liquid to get the right consistency and serve.
For oatmeal, pulverize oatmeal in a blender or food processor and cook with water as the package instructs. Then add liquid to get the right consistency and serve.
For protein, cook meat by baking, boiling in water or steaming. Cook meat until well done (no pink). Let cool and add liquid to puree in a blender, food processor or with a hand blender to get the right consistency, then serve.
Helpful notes on making and introducing baby food:
- A hand blender is a great investment because it saves a lot of time when boiling or steaming food. You can blend right in the pot and save yourself some dirty dishes.
- Introduce one new food at a time, and then get creative with mixing the purees like bananas & oatmeal, peas & carrots, or broccoli & chicken.
- Adding breast milk to the puree is a great way to ease baby into the new food because the milk is a familiar taste.
- A teaspoon or two of pureed prunes or bit of pear or prune juice to the dish is a good addition. The juice or prunes will help baby with bowel movements, which can become difficult when introducing table food.
- Make large batches of food and freeze the extra in standard ice cube trays. Each cube equals one tablespoon of food. Pop the frozen food cubes out and keep in a labeled freezer bag for easy storage. At meal time, pick a few cubes and thaw/microwave to make a healthy meal for baby in less than five minutes.
Here are the 3 big signs baby is ready for table food:
1) Baby will track with his/her eyes what you are eating.
2) Baby will reach for your fork or spoon. Baby is trying to grab your food and put it into his/her mouth!
3) Baby can sit up on his/her own. (You don’t want the baby to eat lying down and risk choking.)