Starting your baby on homemade baby food feels like quite a big step. You’re going from feeding your baby either breastmilk or formula only, to preparing foods from scratch and having to worry about quality control.
It’s honestly not that hard. You can make wonderful baby food at home right from the start with just a few supplies and some work.
You will absolutely want a high quality blender. VitaMix blenders are very powerful, which is handy for pureeing the wide variety that baby will eat eventually. These blenders can even handle meats, although it takes a bit more effort. You can buy a more affordable blender if you don’t feel up to paying a lot. Try for BPA free if you can. It may not help, but it’s not likely to hurt.
You will need to be able to store your baby foods. Ice cube trays and Ziploc bags are an easy way to do it, but you can buy special baby food storage trays if you prefer. The advantage is that you can buy BPA free baby food trays, while most ice cube trays really don’t specify.
You can start with cereal, vegetable or fruits for your baby. It doesn’t really matter which, just keep it thin enough for baby to deal with.
Don’t start any younger than 6 months old if you can help it. One of my kids really made it hard to wait that long, so I understand the challenge, but do your best.
If you choose to start with cereals you’ll probably just buy a box of organic baby cereal. Rice cereal is a popular starter. But you can also grind rice into a powder using a coffee mill to make your own rice cereal. You will need to add boiling water and cook for 10 minutes to make this work, while boxed varieties may simply need water, breastmilk or formula added. Make sure the temperature is safe at feeding time.
Some fruits can be served to baby simply after pureeing or mashing, such as bananas. Others do well after cooking, which also changes the flavor a little.
Buy organic when you can, so that you don’t have to think about pesticides. Peel the fruits. Babies often can’t really digest the peels yet.
Pears and peaches I always like to bake first. Peel and cut them up, then bake in a 350 degree F oven until soft. Puree in the blender, adding water if needed to reach the right consistency.
When cool, pour into the baby food trays and freeze. You can keep some in the refrigerator to cool off for a feeding the same day.
You can make applesauce as well, but given how readily available it is, I often just bought the unsweetened jars. I do not recommend bothering with the baby food jars of applesauce or individual serving containers. Get a big jar and freeze the excess. Much less waste.
Bananas just need to be mashed, and I suggest serving those fresh. However, bananas give some babies trouble with constipation. Be aware and don’t overdo them.
Skip citrus and pineapple for the time being. They’re more likely to cause allergenic reactions when a baby is young.
I suggest either steaming or roasting most vegetables. Steaming uses less water than boiling vegetables, so you lose fewer nutrients to the water. Puree in the blender, adding water as necessary to reach the consistency your baby currently prefers.
Squash, green beans, peas, carrots, potatoes and sweet potatoes are all good choices for the early days.
Most pediatricians say to not introduce meats until about 7-8 months of age. Ask your child’s pediatrician for current guidelines.
Beef, chicken and turkey are good choices for starting your baby on meats. Cook in small chunks until completely done. Babies are really not up for meats that aren’t well done, for safety reasons.
Puree the meat with its cooking juices in your blender. Remember that just because you try to go low fat doesn’t mean your baby should. They need the fat. Add water if you need still more liquid.
Meats go well combined with vegetables as well. I keep them separate when preparing, then combine them when I reheat for each meal.
Keeping Track of Baby Food in the Freezer
It’s important to use up frozen baby food within a reasonable time frame. Put dates on the bags when you pop the cubes out of the trays. Using baby food up within one month is best, but three months is still considered safe.
To really keep those cubes cold, don’t store them in the door of the freezer. Put them in the main compartment so that they are less exposed to temperature changes when people open and close the freezer.