For many families in my practice, homemade baby food seems to be increasing in popularity. For some, making their baby’s food at home is mostly about knowing that their child is getting only the best ingredients and nothing added. Other families make baby food for the cost savings; you will get more bang for your buck than you would from buying jars of food from the store, where you’re paying for more than the ingredients—the labeling, manufacturing, and those pretty glass jars.
Equipment for Making Baby Food
While a baby food maker isn’t necessary, it can be very helpful. Baby food makers are available in many different styles, functions, and price ranges. Some baby food makers can steam and puree the food while others just puree the food. It is up to you to see what works best for your family and budget.
If you don’t use a baby food maker, there are some other necessary kitchen appliances. You’ll need to be able to steam your food and then puree it. (Softer foods like avocado and bananas do not actually need to be pureed and can easily be smashed enough by hand to achieve a soft and smooth consistency.)
- Here are some that we like:
Baby Cook -steam cooker and blender, all-in-one
Steamer Basket – for steaming foods on your stove top
Hand Processor – hand blender and processor (for use after food has been cooked/steamed)
Handheld Smasher – food mill (for use with soft foods or for food that has been cooked/steamed)
Play with Ingredients
You’ll want to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, preferably organic. Frozen organic produce is also okay, if that is your best option. Once your baby has been introduced to a variety of produce, experimenting with different recipes and combinations of fruits and veggies can be fun. Mix them up and try different things. You can mix fruit with veggies and you can even mix some whole grains (such as oats or rice) into your recipes. The possibilities are endless—allow yourself to play.
- Here are some resources to help you begin:
Momtastic Wholesome Homemade Baby Food
BEABA Baby Cook Book
Feeding the Whole Family
Super Baby Food
The Big Book of Organic Baby Food
Directions for Making Baby Food
Here are simple instructions for making baby food at home. You can keep the recipe simple, as below, or experiment with different food combos, adding spices, etc.
- Peel the veggie or fruit, if needed, and cut it into small chunks.
- Place the veggie or fruit into a steamer basket with just enough water to slightly show through the basket.
- Steam until tender. Reserve the cooking water to use to thin the fruit or veggie puree, if necessary.
- Place the steamed fruit or veggie into your appliance (such as a hand processor or handheld smasher) to puree, adding the reserved cooking liquid to achieve the desired consistency.
Food Storage Options
There are many different options available for food storage. You can find anything from specific store-bought baby food storage containers to ice trays to small mason jars.
Glass is the preferable choice for baby food storage, as it eliminates exposure to chemicals commonly found in plastics. Glass jars (such as these and these) make reheating safe and easy. Food grade silicone is another great option; look for silicone storage options (such as these and these). Ice trays are affordable and convenient because you can easily pop out a square of food to reheat for baby. Store your baby food in ice trays with lids or pop the cubes of food out and store in an air tight container or a Ziploc bag.
Food Storage Guidelines
Food storage guidelines should be considered when making baby food. Keep all food refrigerated for just a few days. After a few days, food should be placed in the freezer and then thawed when ready for use.
Reheat baby food by thawing frozen jars or containers in a warm bowl of water. You can also toss a frozen jar or container into the diaper bag in the morning and feed your baby a defrosted and chilled jar by lunch time. Remember not to reheat food in plastic containers as this will transfer unwanted chemicals from the plastic to the food. And remember to always test food as you would a bottle, to ensure it is a safe temperature for baby.
Experiment and Have Fun
Your baby will experience many different flavors and textures of foods as you experiment with the consistency of your purees. When your baby is younger, you can always add breast milk to the food to soften it up more and give baby a familiar, sweet taste. As your baby gets older, you can make the food chunkier so that your baby can work on mashing food with his/her jaw.
Homemade baby food is a wonderful, healthy option that is becoming more popular again these days. We hope that this helps you to begin feeling confident enough to whip up some yummy food for your little one!