Tag Archives: homemade baby food

How to Make Toddler Stage Baby Food

I’ve been making my daughter’s  baby food from the time she started on solid foods. It’s a lot of fun but some work also. But I love the extra control homemade baby food gives me over what goes into her diet.

Now that she’s a toddler, she is getting seriously more independent about her eating. She doesn’t want food spooned into her mouth with a few exceptions such as yogurt, and even that she’s getting stubborn about.

This is because she is so good at self feeding and dealing with chunky food. She doesn’t need my help and has made it quite plan that it is mostly no longer welcome. I have a very independent toddler.

When you go to the grocery store, you see all kinds of toddler stage foods available. Most of them frankly look gross to me. Overcooked vegetables, those funky looking meat sticks, and toddler meals with waaaay too much salt.

I’d rather make my own toddler food. It’s not like it’s difficult. Mostly it’s chopping up what the rest of us are having, but smaller.

Not all meals easily chop into something a toddler can easily handle, however. And so I keep some foods in the freezer prepared to make an easy meal.

Foods to cook until soft and freeze in cubes:

Lightly blended green beans
Lightlly blended peas
Diced carrots
Lightly pureed ground beef
Lightly pureed chicken

I don’t keep a huge selection in the freezer anymore because most meals can be eaten with the rest of the family. You may need to cook vegetables just a touch softer and make sure meats are very tender and chopped into small pieces, but toddlers can mostly eat what you eat.

Your crock pot is your friend when it comes to meats. You’ll almost always get meats that are soft enough for your toddler to handle once you dice it up.

To use the frozen goods, I mix them up as I did when she was a baby, except I use the rice so that it’s all a bit chunky. It’s messy, but this means she can pick up the food and cram it in her mouth. You know what messy eaters toddlers can be.

Couscous is a good alternative to rice. My daughter loves it. You could also use small pasta shapes and anything else that is small enough for a toddler to handle. You can freeze any vegetables your toddler likes; I just listed some of my daughter’s favorites.

It helps to peel some kinds of vegetables. My daughter loves zucchini, but the skins still give her trouble. Rather than peel them, I cut off the skins of the pieces I give to her, as the rest of the family enjoys it as well.

Remember that toddlers will put pretty much anything in their mouths, but can’t chew every food they try. Raisins are more of a choking hazard than a treat for them. Same for nuts. You’re best off chopping foods small enough that your toddler is not too likely to choke on them and keep foods soft enough that the toddler can break them down with just a little chewing.

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.

Homemade Baby Food and Smoothies?

I’ve been keeping really busy making homemade baby food. I was thinking of it as something just for the baby, but it’s turning out to be good for the rest of the family too.

My son likes to snack on the frozen cubes of fruit. Can’t complain about that. But I was pretty surprised when my husband started throwing cubes of baby food into smoothies.

But it made sense really quickly. They’re kind of the same thing.

Homemade baby food is a really easy way to add some vegetables into a smoothie. Green beans hardly change the taste of the smoothie at all. We’ve always tended to throw a carrot into smoothies. We’re thinking squash should work well too.

It just nice being able to throw the fruit and some veggies into the blender and come up with something healthy to drink or make into popsicles. Using the baby food means that vegetables are just that much easier to add, since they don’t need more preparation.