How to Make Homemade Baby Food: A Beginner's Guide
Having a child is no doubt one of the greatest gifts. You are blessed with the opportunity to not only raise and watch a miniature version of your own self grow, but you are also provided with a wonderful chance to teach, guide, and encourage a healthy and proactive member of society.
In today's society, this is certainly no easy task, but a great place to start is from scratch, in infancy, with proper and sustainable nourishment for your little one. How, do you ask? By providing your child with wholesome and fresh, homemade baby foods. Avoid the toxins and preservatives present in shelf-stable jars of processed baby foods, and compile your own diverse creations from scratch.
Benefits of Making Your Own Baby Food
- No secret ingredients, as you know exactly what you're feeding your baby.
- The ability to provide your infant with the pureed form of family meals.
- More variety, as you are able to concoct your own mixtures and choose ingredients not found in store bought brands of baby foods.
- Cost savings by purchasing your own ingredients and making the baby foods in bulk, and then storing extras for use later on.
- No additives or preservatives.
- Limited or no heat processing, which means less vitamin/mineral loss.
- Time savings with less grocery store trips and label reading.
Excited yet? Tap into your creative side to provide your new child with a great nutritional start. Provide him/her with the foundation for good health and nutritional habits from the very beginning!
Below, we will review how you may go about planning for and creating scrumptious and healthy baby foods, as well as some fun and delicious recipe ideas, without breaking the bank doing so.
1. Blender or Food Processor
A decent blender or food processor is one of the most important tools needed to make homemade baby food, as this is how you will go about most efficiently and effectively blending, pureeing, and mashing up the fruits, vegetables, and/or meats you wish to incorporate.
A few of the best options include, but are not limited to: KitchenAid 12-cup Food Processor, Hamilton Beach 70595 Big Mouth 14-cup Food Processor, Oster Classic Beehive Blender (Glass), and The Magic Bullet.
2. Stick Mixer
Although not a necessary tool to have for preparing fresh baby foods, a stick mixer is great to have for pureeing and preparing smaller batches of ingredients, which is convenient when you are in a hurry.
Similar to the stick mixer, a grinder is not essential to have on-hand, but it is also convenient for testing out smaller batches of a new food or mixture. It's also nice to have access to for whipping up something quick for baby on-the-go.
4. Ice Cube Trays/Storage Containers for Freezing
Most of the time, when preparing fresh baby foods, you will be doing so in bulk. As fresh foods have shorter shelf lives than store bought, processed ones, it is essential to have storage containers on hand so that you may freeze extras for use later on.
A good strainer is necessary for draining boiled fruits, vegetables, and meats that you cook over the stove.
6. Fine Mesh Strainer
Although not a necessity, a fine mesh strainer isn't generally costly, but it is great to have on-hand when you are looking to make something more fine-textured (i.e. separating pea and bean skins from the puree, strawberry seeds from the fruit pulp etc.).
7. Steamer Basket
One of the biggest steps in making your own baby food is the steaming process to soften the foods you are working with and make them compatible for baby. A steamer basket is a wonderful tool, as it prevents the nutrient and vitamin loss that occurs when you boil fruits/vegetables directly in water.
A good masher is inexpensive, will last for years and is a great, cost-effective alternative to a blender or food processor for pureeing fruits and vegetables by hand. It is also perfect for creating chunkier food mixes for older babies and toddlers.
9. Potato Peeler or Sharp Knife
This tool will be needed if you choose to work with produce that requires skin removal. While fruit and vegetable skins contain some great nutrients, they are generally too tough to include in baby foods. They may also pose as a potential choking hazard.
10. Sauce Pan
You likely already have one in your kitchen, but a medium-sized sauce pan is essential for boiling less-soft ingredients (sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, squash, apples).
Types of Foods to Make
The ability to choose the types of foods you puree and mix is a wonderful way to tap into your creative side and really give your baby the very best. At first, you will want to keep things simple with one-ingredient foods so that possible allergens may be ruled out quickly.
Vegetables (peas, carrots, beans, squash, corn) are a great place to start so that baby can become accustomed to eating less sweet foods. After a few weeks, simple fruits (bananas, apples, peaches, pears) can be introduced.
Once your baby has grown older, has become familiar with simple one-ingredient foods, and potential allergens have been ruled out, you will be able to experiment with more diverse ingredients and whip up concoctions including multiple kinds of fruits, vegetables, and even spices. If you choose to include meats in your baby foods, it is generally wise to wait to introduce these until about 7-8 months of age.
1. Avocado Puree (4-6 months)
Avocados are a true super food and a great source of healthy fats and Vitamin E, which are essential for proper brain development. All that is needed for this recipe is 1 medium-sized avocado.
- Peel the avocado and remove the seed from the center.
- Slice the avocado into chunks and puree with a food processor or blender. You may also mash the tender slices with a masher.
- Mix the puree with breast milk, formula, or water until the desired consistency is reached.
2. Beet & Blueberry Mash-up (7-9 months)
Beets and blueberries provide a nutritional power-punch, with just the right amount of sweetness. You are also unlikely to find this delicious combo in any baby foods purchased at the grocer's market. Ingredients needed: 2 medium-sized beets and 1/2 cup of blueberries (fresh or frozen).
- Rinse the beets and blueberries, and drain in a collander.
- Remove beet skin with a potato peeler or knife.
- Slice the beets into 1-inch cubes. Place the beet pieces and blueberries in a medium-sized sauce pan.
- Add some water to the pot, just enough to cover the tops of the produce. Boil until the beets are tender, about 10-15 minutes on medium-high heat.
- Pour the ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until a smooth texture is reached. Alternatively, a hand masher may be used to do the same.
More Recipe Ideas
- 21 Homemade Baby Food Recipes
If you are looking for more homemade baby food recipes to try out, take a look at this resource. Here you will find fantastic ideas for baby food you can make right at home broken down by baby's age.
Safe storage of homemade baby foods is not only essential, but necessary, as fresh foods do not contain the preservatives and additives that make store bought items last for months and years.
Luckily, safe storage is not a difficult task. Fresh baby foods will generally last for about 2 days in the fridge. Using your fridge-stored foods within this window of time ensures that baby is not exposed to potentially harmful bacteria. Storing extras in freezer safe packaging is a great way to keep your concoctions safe for an additional 3-6 months. Don't forget to label what you store with the date it was made.
If you want to learn more about freezing and storing homemade baby food, here is a great resource with all you need to know: Everything You Want to Know About Freezing Homemade Baby Food.
A Healthy Baby is a Happy Baby!
All in all, providing your little one with the healthiest and most nutritious base possible is a relatively simple, certainly affordable, and overall rewarding process.
In the long-term, both your child's health and your wallet will thank you for your efforts in concocting fresh, homemade alternatives to the packaged convenience of store bought, overly processed baby foods.