Making homemade baby food is simple. You cook the food, let it cool, and puree it into a blender or food processor. Be sure to check out my Getting Started post and reference Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron and wholesomebabyfood.com for food ages and recipe ideas.
When beginning solids for your baby, schedule some time each week to prepare baby food. I suggest making a large amount of food so your baby will have a variety of age-appropriate options ready at any time. Remember to only offer solids after a full liquid feeding for the first year as solids are secondary to breast milk or formula.
You might be tempted to invest in an expensive, all-in-one baby food maker. While this tool can be helpful and convenient, you likely already have all the equipment you need to prepare homemade baby food in your own kitchen.
- Cutting Surface
- Baking dish
- Large stock pot
- Steamer basket or metal colander
- Ice cube trays
- Freezer bags
- Blender, food processor, food mill, stick mixer, or baby food maker
Wash all fruits and vegetables well, even if organic. Early on, it is best to peel the fruits and vegetables, as the skins can be difficult for young babies to digest. While fresh, seasonal produce is preferred, fresh frozen fruits and vegetables are a good option, too. Frozen produce options can be convenient and less expensive. When preparing meats, wash hands well after touching. To avoid the transfer of bacteria, never re-use the utensils used to touch raw meat.<
There are a few ways to cook baby food, maintaining the highest nutritional value and flavor. Consider pulling out basic foods from your family meals to use for making baby food.
Steaming: Steaming was my preferred cooking method when starting solids. It is the best way to preserve the most nutrients. I have a steamer basket from Target that was in the dollar aisle. I do now have a larger insert for my big stock pot which is great for making large batches. Do not overcook the vegetables, as nutrients can be lost. Cook until tender and add some of the remaining liquid to the food for a smooth, pureed texture.
Baking: Baking is convenient and nutritious. You can even bake food for your baby while cooking the rest of your foods for the family. This is great for large items like sweet potatoes and winter squash.
Stewing: Stewing can be done in a saucepan or even in a slow cooker! I think this is a better option as your child grows for single dish meals.
Once your food is cooked, you’re ready to puree. For babies 4-6 months, add some of the cooking liquid and puree until completely smooth. As your baby grows and is ready for chunkier textures, don’t puree quite as much. This is a great way to gradually get your baby ready for table foods. Experiment with the different speeds on the processor for a wide variety of food textures. A food mill is great for smaller food batches.
The most efficient way to store purees is in a (BPA-free) ice cube tray. For older babies, you can use larger containers for larger portions. With 2 boys, I moved on to glass containers. Cool food as quickly as possible and place immediately in the freezer. Adding hot food to the freezer can bring down the temperature of the freezer.
Allow cubes to freeze overnight, then pop them out of trays and store in a well-marked and dated freezer bag. Cubes in freezer will generally store for about 3 months.
Do not re-freeze cooked meals that have already been frozen, as this will make the food susceptible to bacterial growth. However, you can freeze food if one or more of the ingredients were previously frozen in a raw state. For example, it is ok to freeze a purees or meals made with raw frozen meat, fresh frozen vegetables, or fresh frozen fruit.
You can travel with your homemade baby food in a cooler packed with plenty of ice. Pack only as much food as you need stored in sealed freezer bags. If staying overnight, remove food from cooler and place in a freezer. Once food thaws, consume immediately, or discard to avoid the risk of serving your baby bacteria.
You can reheat frozen food in a microwave or over a saucepan. Make sure that the food has cooled before serving. This may mean you need to cook it a little early, or place it well-covered in the refrigerator to cool down. I have also mixed in an ice cube or two to help thin and cool.
As long as you’re staying age-appropriate, get creative. Don’t be afraid to puree sweet potatoes together with apples or avocado with kiwi. Or, you can always mix cubes together after thawing or into cereal, porridge, or yogurt. You may mix your purees with breast milk, formula, or water.