Tag Archives: baby food

How to Start Your Baby on Homemade Baby Foods

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.

Preparing Fruits

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.

Preparing Vegetables

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.

Preparing Meats

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.

A Quick Break From Baby Food Making

What a week it was last week! Thanksgiving is always a crazy time of year, but my dear eldest daughter had to make it more interesting by coming down with a rather nasty stomach bug.

And passing it on to my husband and son.

Fortunately, the baby and I did not get it. It took a lot of effort to keep things that way. Keeping kids apart who normally play together much of the day is rough, and the baby really loves her Daddy.

So what does all this have to do with baby food making?

I’m picky about the conditions under which I will make baby food. A house full of people who have been throwing up is not what I consider good conditions. Too worrying that maybe there was something in the kitchen either causing the problem or that had come into the kitchen with one of the sick people.

Naturally this hit right when I was just about out of baby food cubes. I’d been planning on making quite a number just after Thanksgiving.

I had to resort to jarred baby food!

All right, so it’s really not all that horrifying. Glad I had a good stock on hand. I use jarred food for when we visit family.

Fortunately, they’re all well and I’ve done some serious scrubbing to be sure that no one spread anything too bad around the house while they were sick. So I’m back to making baby food. And very grateful that whatever the virus was, the baby didn’t get it.

Baby Food Making with the Kidco Food Mill

Selene is quite the happy little eater, I must say. That girl loves her solid foods. And her breastmilk, although she gets a little creative about the positions she nurse in some days. Gets interesting.

kidco food millBut there’s one area in which she has suddenly turned picky. She now really, really needs her food to have texture. I’m really glad to have my Kidco Food Mill now. That’s it to the right. I was using it to grind up some homemade chicken soup, or at least the solid parts of the soup, when I took the photo.

I’ve had this one for quite a while. I used it to make food for my oldest, who is now 7 years old. I used it for my son, who is now 4. And it’s still going strong in making food for this baby. I rather like that it has lasted so well.

The food comes out too chunky for babies who are just starting solids, but once they like to chew it’s about perfect in my experience. My kids joke about how pasta comes out looking like little worms, as it still kind of sticks to itself even after grinding.

This is the part of feeding a baby where the food mill and my crockpot are really my friends. The food mill because it makes allowing my baby to eat what the rest of the family is eating pretty easy. The crockpot because it means that the meats are tender enough that I don’t struggle so much to grind them in the mill.

It’s fun to see my baby eating what we eat. I made homemade chicken soup from scratch the other night because we all had colds. Took some of the soup, drained the broth from it, cooled it and put it in the food mill. Selene loved it! Her appetite had been poor, but that mouth was popping open for this meal. I ended up wishing I had cooled more for her. Had to give her some cereal to finish off the appetite.

You do of course have to be careful about food temperatures when grinding food for immediate use. You don’t want a baby with a burned mouth.

It is some work to grind the food. You have to push down on the outer section of the mill while turning the crank on top. If the food isn’t tender that can be a bit of work. But to me it’s worth it.

Phew! Thought I Killed My Blender!

It’s still aliiiiiive!

I’ve been working on introducing meats to Selene. Making baby food cubes is a bit harder with meat than with fruits and vegetables. Not only do you have to be very thorough with your cooking, it’s harder on the blender.

Even when it’s just ground beef. Amazing how hard that stuff is to puree.

My first round with it the blender caused it to quit. Now this is a really good blender, a 15 year old (or thereabouts, my husband has had it since well before we married) VitaMix. That thing blends just about anything. But if you make it work too hard it will quit rather than burn out the motor.

I tried it again in the morning. It took some work to get the beef out, as it had become a rather firm, kind of gelatinous mass. Blender couldn’t do a thing with it.

But a bit of heating in the microwave on the stuff I pulled out, plus a good bit of water, and it blended up nicely.

I’m quite relieved to have not killed my blender. It’s a good machine. My husband campaigns for a newer VitaMix here and there, but while this one works I’m not spending the money. It still does everything we need it to do quite well.

Can Baby Go Organic?

I’m greener these days than I was when I had my first two kids. It’s amazing how things change once new ideas get on your radar. It makes some things more complex.

I’ve blogged a lot about how we use cloth diapers with our baby. That’s still going really well. We also use a lot more homemade cleaners. But there are a lot more things we want to do this time around.

We’ve resisted the temptation to get organic sheets and such for her bedding. Just about all the baby clothes and other supplies we have are handmedowns, and have likely off gassed pretty much anything there could be to worry about with them. Shopping for organic replacements strikes me as a bit of a waste at this point.

Baby food, on the other hand…

Going organic here is going to be pretty affordable with any luck. We have a garden, and one of the big things I want to do with any excess is prepare it as baby food.

I figure it will be a great way to get cheap, organic baby food. No question of how it was grown or prepared.

We don’t have any fruit trees, so I will still have to buy fruits to prepare for her, but if the garden behaves we’ll be in pretty good shape with certain varieties.

For the early days we have the VitaMix blender. That should make some really good purees. As she gets big enough to have a little texture, our little KidCo baby food mill should do the job at each meal.

Yes, I know organic baby food is fairly easy to buy these days in jars. I’d still rather make what I can. It makes sense financially and I know to be very, very careful about keeping things clean when making baby food, as food poisoning is more dangerous to infants.

I have a bit of time yet before taking this step, but it’s definitely time to get planning. Selene is three months now and I want to be ready to get things started when she’s six months old, not still trying to figure the whole deal out.