How to prepare homemade baby food


Two years ago when my toddler was entering his fourth month, I offered him his first solid foods. (I was secretly hoping eating solid food would help him sleep longer. It didn’t.) My husband and I tend to cook meals at home, so making our own baby food wasn’t too much of a stretch. So although we bought jarred food from time to time, we opted to make our own for most of our baby’s meals. I’m so glad we did.

  • Homemade baby food provided variety
    Choosing my own ingredients provided near-limitless combinations: strawberries and cherries, strawberries and pineapple, cherries and pineapple… I tried to make every possible combination from different fruits and vegetables but there was no way I could have done it.
  • Homemade baby food helped transition to table food
    When my baby outgrew the pureed stuff, I wanted him to eat what I’ve cooked for everyone else, whether that’s chicken breasts or salad, spaghetti or clam chowder. Because we gave our baby homemade food, introducing a simple “table food” recipe wasn’t too difficult, like zucchini sauteed with garlic and thyme, for instance. Eventually his palette widened enough that he was eating exactly what my husband and I had on our plates.
  • Homemade baby food was cheaper
    Just as I saved money cooking at home instead of eating out, making my own baby food was almost always less expensive than buying food already made. Since I love to save me a buck or two, the money factor was a nice nudge towards making our own baby food.

There were times though, when homemade baby food wasn’t the ideal choice. I ran out ingredients. I just about had it with peeling and steaming. Or I simply didn’t have time to prepare anything. Plus homemade baby food wasn’t conducive for travel—when we went to Big Bear, we opted for convenience and bought jarred food.

And if I could do this all over again, I would change a few things:

  • First, I would skip the cereal. I kept hearing (probably from clever marketing preying on new moms—oh, we are such easy targets!) that cereal is the best food to start with when introducing solid foods. I didn’t see any benefits to starting with rice and oatmeal cereals, or even including them at all. When my baby started eating grains regularly, I would simply buy the Bob Mills crushed grains. Not only were baby cereals more expensive, they were probably not as tasty as fruits or vegetables like sweet potatoes or bananas.
  • And second, I wouldn’t introduce broccoli so early. Or bananas so late. I thought that the first foods I offered my baby would magically be his favorite food. Conversely I thought if I waited a bit longer to introduce fruits, he wouldn’t develop a sweet tooth. But alas, food isn’t always love at first taste—tasting  broccoli before avocado doesn’t guarantee he’ll prefer the former over the latter. And delaying the sweet stuff did nothing for my toddler’s penchant for fruits. My advice: start off with more palatable flavors and work the stronger flavors like broccoli much later.

Need some ideas on what to feed your baby and how to prepare them? Below are some of the fruits and vegetables we introduced during the first few months of solid food-eating:

  • Sweet potatoes, taro and yams: Place an unpeeled sweet potato on a foil or pan and roast unwrapped at 400 degrees in the oven for 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the thickness. Let it cool, then peel and mash with a fork or masher. At a younger age, you’ll probably want to thin it out by adding some water.
  • Apples and pears:
    Peel, core and slice the apple or pear into chunks. Place the chunks into a steamer. (I just filled up a large pot with about an inch of water and left it at a low boil hot enough to emit some steam. then I placed a colander inside the pot and covered that with a lid.) Steam the apples or pears until they’re tender (anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes), then place the chunks into a food processor or blender to puree. You may want to add some of the reserved water (that one inch of water from the pot) into the blender to thin it out and make it easier to blend.
  • Zucchini and summer squash:
    Wash the zucchinis or summer squash but don’t peel them. Instead, trim the ends and cut the rest into small sections to steam until they’re tender. Then, puree in a blender until smooth. Since zucchini and summer squash have a lot of water, there’s probably no need to add extra water to the puree.
  • Peas: Make sure you’re using peas taken out of the pods (the actual circles or beads). Then, place in a steamer and cook until tender before blending into a puree.
  • Banana, mango, avocado, papaya and kiwi—These are the convenient foods! Simply scoop out the meaty parts and mash with a fork—no cooking necessary. Feel free to thin with water.
  • Broccoli and cauliflower: Be warned—these were not my baby’s favorite foods. That said, I probably didn’t do what I’m suggesting here now, which is to cut just the florets instead of the stem. This will make the puree tastier and smoother. Then, steam the florets until tender and puree.
  • Beets: Chop off the leafy tops of the beets completely, then wash and peel the beets. Cut them into smaller section and steam until tender before pureeing in a blender. Make sure to thin with new water, not the reserved water from the pot, in case any of the nitrates made its way into the reserved water.
  • Green beans: Wash the beans and cut off the tips from either end. Then, steam until tender and puree in a blender, thinning out with reserved water if needed.
  • Carrots: Wash and peel the carrots and cut into chunks. Then, steam the chunks until tender and puree in a blender. Make sure not to use the reserved water in case the nitrates seeped into it.
  • Peaches and nectarines: Peel and remove the pit, then cut into slices to steam. Once it’s tender, puree in a blender, thinning out with reserved water if needed.

Did you make your own or purchase baby food? What did you like and not like about preparing the food?

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19 thoughts on “How to prepare homemade baby food

  1. We made almost all of our daughter’s baby food in our wonderful food processor that my in-laws gave us (I love that thing). I liked making our own food and it is definitely cheaper.

    Her first food was avocado and she gobbled it up. Now she doesn’t like it and when I tell her how much she liked it as a baby she says she wants some now but always ends up spitting it out again.

  2. I tried making avocado for Sidrah when she was an infant, but she was not crazy about it. It was the easiest thing to mush up, but even mixed with formula (or breastmilk, I can’t remember), she just didn’t like it. And I couldn’t blame her.

    I, too, was told that you shouldn’t introduce fruits until later because then they won’t eat the vegetables. Neither of my kids ended up disliking vegetables. Sure, fruits are yummy! But they still eat their veggies. I don’t know if I got lucky or that’s just bad advice.

    Good post, as usual! :)

  3. Yes! We made our own baby food and used the Magic Bullet! Wouldn’t have changed a thing! She was a great eater. Am I alone when I say the Toddler years can become picky?? Ugh!

  4. I made almost all my own baby food as well – so easy. The baby gets WIC, so the baby food that came with that I would save for trips or other outings where it was hard to keep the homemade food. It worked great. I got a lot of ideas from the book Super Baby Food, and still use the cereal recipe for my two-year old (but I have to add fruit or some natural syrup to it now). I posted that recipe not too long ago here: http://instantmama.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/last-shopping-trip-last-movie-night/

    Oh, and I waited until she was over a year before giving her broccoli (I really don’t remember how old she was), and she loved it! The other day we were eating broccoli and she saw it on the table and wouldn’t be content until I had served some up for her (no stems, of course). And then she asked for seconds! None of her siblings like it that much, so we’ll see how long this is good for.

  5. Thanks for the recipes! I just had a baby a few months ago and I can’t wait for her to try all the yummy veggies and fruit out there. I decided long ago I was going to make my babies food! I can’t wait! I was over weight as a child and an adult and I am determined not to have my children that way. I love eating healthy and exercising, makes life so much better!

    • So good to hear! I know homemade baby food isn’t for everybody, but I was one of those people who actually got a kick out of it, and couldn’t wait to make my own.

      I hear you on about healthy eating… I hear that one in three kids now are obese, so yes those are definitely concerns that our kids have to deal with nowadays. I was pretty skinny as a kid when I lived in the Philippines, but once we moved here in elementary school I was introduced to Twinkies and Hot Pockets and it was over lol. I never ballooned to a huge weight but I definitely could have improved. After college when I started cooking for myself was when I made improvements and really got down to my ideal weight. I’m determined to have my little guy eating well too. No Twinkies in this house!

      • I can’t tell you the last time I had a little Debbie. I know that I tried one a few years ago and it was not as good as I had remembered. Even when I make cookies at home they don’t taste so yummy because of the butter in the recipe. Actually, my husband and I have not bought butter since before our baby was born! Haha, we have been working on one thing of it for awhile.

  6. Hi, my baby is / will be 4mo in a week. I’d like to put off babyfood until about 6mo, if possible. I am nursing. I wrote a post about making babyfood b/c someone gave me the baby bullet. I love your tips and will save this for future reference. Oh, with my older children, I just fed them the jar stuff or the table food. I didn’t know how easy it would be to make your own. I think that when I do start feeding him food, it will be avacados, sweet potatoes and bananas. Hey, I love your Friday theme!

  7. Thank you so much for posting this. I am a little behind in preparing my 10 month old’s food. He has a milk allergy and I’ve been using a great deal of my time researching recipes for us (my husband and I will be living dairy free for awhile with him).

    Your tips and instructions will be so helpful as we begin the “non-baby” food meals.

  8. Pingback: The trials of baby food | mommy thoughts…

  9. I made my own baby food and when time was tight I used a lot of frozen veggies/fruits. I used my food processor and blender especially when I was making batches and batches of food on a sunday afternoon (getting ready for the work week ahead!). I sent cubes of frozen food for the week to daycare with him :)
    I agree about starting grains later or just using less. My 2nd time around we used much less cereal (I was still breast feeding exclusively and didn’t feel the need to worry about nutrients as much as getting new tastes and textures in). I also started “table food” much earlier. My twins were eating puree at 6 month and table foods (steamed veggies, cheerios, chopped fruits etc) within 2 months of that. one loved it and the other didn’t so they kinda made their own schedule!
    I used a great website http://wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com/ for ideas and recipes with my first born. They have great charts for what is good to introduce at what stages too!

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