How to make homemade baby food
How to Make Homemade Baby Food
When it is time to introduce solids to your child (when they are between 4 and 6 months old) it's comforting to know exactly what they'll be eating. Making your own baby food at home allows you to keep track of every single ingredient in your baby's newly expanding diet. You don't need a lot of fancy gear to make homemade baby food. With a few pieces of equipment, some fresh produce and the following guidelines, you can prepare a nutritious meal or snack for your baby. Just see Step 1 below to get started.
Preparing Homemade Baby Food
Select fresh, good-quality produce.The first step in producing tasty, nutritious food for your baby is to select fresh, good quality produce.
- Buy organic if possible, and make sure fruits and vegetables are ripe and blemish-free. Try to use or cook all foods within 2 or 3 days after purchase.
- Choose items like apples, pears, peaches and sweet potatoes to try first. Avoid foods that may be stringy or hard for baby to swallow, such as green beans or peas with shells, unless you pass them through a fine strainer after they have been cooked and blended.
Clean and prepare the food.The next step is to prepare the food for cooking or serving -- this involves cleaning the food and removing any parts that the baby cannot chew or digest -- such as skins, pips, nuts, seeds and fat.
- Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly. Peel foods with skins and core items with seeds. Dice vegetables into similar sized cubes so they will cook evenly. In terms of quantity, 2 lbs. (900 g) of clean, diced produce will make around 2 cups (300 g) of homemade baby food.
- You can prepare meat and poultry by washing, removing the skin and trimming any fat before cooking. Grains like quinoa and millet should be prepared according to the instructions on the package.
Cook the food by steaming, boiling or baking.If you're preparing a ripe fruit -- like a soft pear or avocado -- you can simply mash it up with a fork and serve immediately. Vegetables, meat and grains on the other hand, will need to be cooked first. You have several options when it comes to cooking methods:
- Steaming is the best option when it comes to cooking vegetables, as it preserves the most nutrients. Use a steamer basket, or simply place a colander over a boiling saucepan of water. Steam produce until it is tender, usually about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Boiling can be used to cook grains, vegetables and certain animal produce. You can boil the food in a broth to add more flavor, if you wish.
- Baking is a good option for things like sweet potatoes, cruciferous veggies, meat and poultry. You can add a little flavor to these items by adding herbs and mild spices during baking (don't be afraid to give your baby flavor!)
When processing baby food, try to work in small batches.This ensures that the ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Also keep in mind that some foods will require the addition of a little liquid in order to achieve the correct consistency -- this liquid could be water, breast milk, formula or a little of the preserved cooking water (if the food was boiled).
Cool and puree the food.Once the food is thoroughly cooked, set it aside and allow it cool fully. Make sure that meat and poultry products have no traces of pink left, as babies are more susceptible to food poisoning.
- Choose a processing method. Small babies will need their food pureed into a creamy texture before eating, whereas older babies can handle chunkier foods. The method you choose to process your baby food will depend on the age of the baby and your own personal preferences.
- Some parents choose to invest in fancy all-in-onebaby food makers, which can cook, puree, defrost and reheat fruit, vegetables and meat. These are a little on the pricey side, but make making your own baby food a breeze!
- Alternatively, you can use your regularkitchen blender,food processororhand-held blenderto process food into a smooth puree. These are fast and easy to use (and eliminate the need to buy another gadget) but may be a pain to assemble, clean and dismantle if you're only working with small quantities of food.
- You could also try using a try using ahand-turned food millor ababy food grinder. Both of these gadget are non-electric and portable. These work well and are relatively inexpensive, but are slower require more physical effort to operate.
- Lastly, for very soft produce like ripe bananas, avocados and baked sweet potatoes, you can simply use a good old-fashionedforkto mash the food into the desired consistency.
Serve or store the food.Once your homemade baby food is cooked, cooled and pureed, you can serve some of it immediately, then store the rest for later use. It's very important to store homemade baby food correctly, so it doesn't spoil or develop bacteria that will make your baby ill.
- Spoon the baby food into food safe glass jars or plastic containers with airtight lids and place in the refrigerator. Label the container with the date the food was made, so you can keep track of freshness and dispose of any foods that are more than 3 days old.
- Alternatively, you can spoon the food into covered ice cube trays and freeze. Once the cubes have frozen fully, remove them from the tray and place in a sealable plastic bag. Each cube of baby food will be enough for one portion, so defrost accordingly.
- You can thaw frozen baby food by placing it in the refrigerator overnight, or by setting the container or bag containing the food in a pan of warm water (not over direct heat) for approximately 20 minutes
- Frozen pureed fruit and vegetables will keep for 6 to 8 months, while frozen meat and poultry will stay fresh for between one and two months.
- As making your own baby food can be pretty labor-intensive, a good strategy is to make large quantities of baby food on a single day, then freeze it for later use.
Experimenting with Different Foods
Start with traditional baby foods.Most traditional baby food is comprised of soft, naturally sweet fruits and vegetables that are easy to prepare.
- Such foods include fruit like bananas, pears, blueberries, peaches, apricots, prunes, mangoes and apples and vegetables like sweet potatoes, butternut squash, sweet peppers, avocado, carrots and peas.
- These foods are popular as they are easy to prepare and enjoyed by most babies. They are a good place to start when you first introduce your baby to solids, but don't be afraid to branch out and try more adventures foods.
- This will help to expand your baby's taste buds and make mealtimes more interesting. Be careful not to overwhelm your baby however -- try introducing one new food at a time and wait at least three days before introducing another. This will help you to easily identify the cause of any allergic reactions.
Experiment with stewed meats.Stewed meats are a great first food for babies -- they are tasty, nutritious and can be enjoyed by the rest of the family as well, which is always a bonus!
- Try making a beef stew using some light Chinese or Mexican flavors, such as soy sauce or mild poblano chillies (yes, chillies!). Babies from around the world are commonly introduced to these more intense flavors from a very early age.
- Alternatively, you could try cooking a pork shoulder with some citrus juice for a tasty dinner that will keep baby and the rest of the family happy.
Feed your baby fish.Traditionally, parents were advised to avoid feeding their baby fish and other potentially allergenic foods until they were at least a year old. Thinking on this subject, however, has recently changed.
- A study published in 2008 by the American Academy of Pediatrics stated that it's safe to feed these foods to babies over the age of 6 months, provided they show no signs of allergies (food or otherwise), don't suffer from asthma and have no family history of either.
- Therefore, you should consider feeding your baby fish like salmon, which is full of healthy fats and is highly nutritious. Try simmering the salmon in a pot of lightly seasoned water until it's fully cooked. Allow it to cool before pureeing (for younger babies), mashing into a bowl of carrots or other vegetables, or simply breaking it up into small chunks (for older babies).
Give your baby whole grains.It's a good idea to start your baby on whole grains such as quinoa and millet as early as possible.
- Whole grains introduce your baby to a whole new world of texture and encourages them to use their mouth and tongue in more advanced ways, which can help them with their speech later on.
- Whole grains don't need to be bland and boring, you can spice them up by cooking them in chicken or vegetable stock, or by mixing them with soft, flavorsome veggies like onions or butternut squash.
Try eggs.Like with fish, parents were traditionally were advised to avoid feeding their babies eggs until they were a year old. Nowadays, it's believed that babies can eat eggs from the start, provided they show no signs of allergies or have no family history of allergies.
- Eggs are very nutritious, containing high levels of proteins, B vitamins and other important minerals. You can cook them anyway you like -- scrambled, poached, fried or cooked into an omelette.
- Just make sure that both the white and yolk are cooked until solid -- undercooked or lightly cooked eggs can cause food poisoning.
- Try mashing a hard boiled egg with half an avocado, mixing scrambled egg with some vegetable puree, or adding a chopped fried egg to rice or oatmeal (for older babies).
Experiment with herbs and mild spices.Many parents become stuck on the notion that baby food needs to be bland and tasteless -- but this is not the case at all! Babies are fully capable of enjoying a wide variety of flavors.
- Try adding some rosemary to the pan when you're roasting butternut squash for pureeing, sprinkle some cumin or garlic powder on a cooked chicken breast, add a dash of cinnamon to your baby's oatmeal, or add a little chopped parsley to mashed potatoes.
- Babies can also tolerate spicy foods much better than you might think. Of course, you don't want to burn or irritate your babies mouth, but you can certainly think about adding some pureed peppers (mild varieties like Anaheims and poblanos) to things like vegetable purees and meat stews.
Try sour fruits.It may come as a surprise to learn that many babies enjoy the taste of sour foods. You can find out if your baby is one of them by pureeing some pitted sour cherries. You could also try stewed, unsweetened rhubarb or pureed plums, both of which have a tart, refreshing flavor.
Introducing Your Baby to Solids
Be careful with temperature.Solid baby food should be served no hotter than body temperature, to avoid burning the baby's mouth.
- You should be especially careful when reheating pre-prepared foods in the microwave, as the microwave can reheat food unevenly, creating hotspots in certain areas.
- Therefore, when you remove food from the microwave, give it a good stir to distribute the heat evenly, then leave it to sit for a few minutes until reaches room temperature.
Don't keep leftovers.When feeding your baby, try to measure out exact portions for each meal. This helps to avoid waste, as you won't be able to save any leftovers. This is due to the high chance that your baby's saliva will get into the food as you spoon feed him/her, which makes it much easier for bacteria to grow in the food.
Don't sweeten your baby's food.You should never sweeten your baby's food before feeding. Babies don't require any extra sugar, especially given the high rates of childhood obesity nowadays. You shouldn't use any alternative sweeteners like corn syrup or honey either, as these can cause a potentially fatal form of food poisoning in babies known as botulism.
Avoid exposing your baby to nitrates.Nitrates are chemicals found in water and soil which can cause a certain type of anemia (known as methemoglobinemia) in exposed babies. These nitrates are eliminated from all store-bought baby foods, but can be a problem in homemade versions (especially if you use well water).
- As the major source of nitrates in baby foods comes from the use of well water, it's a good idea to have your well tested to ensure that the water contains less than 10ppm of nitrates.
- The level of nitrates increases in unfrozen food over time, so use fresh fruits and vegetables within a couple of days of purchase, freeze pre-prepared baby food as soon after cooking as possible and consider using frozen packets of veggies like beets, carrots, green beans, spinach, and squash (instead of fresh versions) as these tend to have the highest level of nitrates.
Feed your baby the same food as the rest of the family.Instead of preparing separate meals for your baby, make life easier for yourself by grinding, mashing or pureeing the same meal that the rest of your family is eating.
- This saves you time and effort, but will also help to train your baby to eat the same food as everyone else, which can come in handy as your baby grows up.
- Babies can eat most healthy foods that the rest of the family eats, provided they are mashed up or blended to the correct consistency -- stews, soups and casseroles can all be adapted to become baby appropriate.
QuestionIs it okay to give salt to a baby or young child?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerVery small amounts of salt is okay for children as long as it is not constant, but avoid it with babies. Giving young children salty or greasy foods such as fast food should be avoided as much as possible. Starting a child young with healthy foods will be very helpful in the long run when it comes to their health.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is good food for a one-and-a-half year old?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerPureed fruits and vegetables and bite-sized pieces of bread and soft crackers are good.Thanks!
QuestionCan I introduce my 4 month old to fresh cow milk?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo, you should wait until your child is at least one year. Stick to breast milk or formula until they are at least one year.Thanks!
- Mix different combinations of fruits and vegetables once baby has tried them all individually with no allergic reactions. Try mixing things like apples and plums, squash and peaches, apples and broccoli, and so on.
- Mash already soft foods, like bananas or avocados, with a fork until they are a smooth consistency for an instant meal. Add a few drops of baby's milk or sterile water if needed to thin out.
- Talk to your child's pediatrician about when to begin giving your baby solids. Ask which foods to try first and what foods to avoid in the first year. Feed only 1 new food every 4 days and watch for allergies each time you introduce baby to a new food.
- Add a tsp. (5 mL) or so of baby's formula, breast milk or boiled, cooled water to thin out the baby food if it is too thick. Add a tsp. (5 mL) of baby's cereal to thicken foods.
- Try out lots of different flavor combinations, like plum and pear or squash and apple and try to make the food as vibrantly colored as possible, as this will appeal to babies the most.
Things You'll Need
2 lbs. (900 g) fresh fruits or vegetables
1/2 cup (120 mL) water
Covered saucepan or steamer
Blender or food processor
Pen or marker
Sources and Citations
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