How to Make Baby Food at Home
Homemade baby food is a money-saving, eco-friendly alternative to the store-bought variety. It also puts you in the driver's seat when it comes to your baby's nutrition. And while making your own baby food can be as simple as mashing up a banana, it's equally easy to whip up some healthy purees with a few simple ingredients. Read these tips for making homemade baby food, then learn how to freeze it for safe storage.
- RELATED: 15 Easy Homemade Baby Food Recipes
How to Make Your Own Baby Food
To make baby food from scratch, start by gathering your supplies. You'll need a food processor or blender and a saucepan. If you're just introducing your little one to solids, the baby food should be thin and easy to swallow; get the right consistency by adding one or two teaspoons of water to the recipe. Older infants can generally handle baby food with thicker consistencies. Learn how to make your own baby food with these recipes from Parents.
Carrot Baby Food
Sweet Potato Baby Food
Banana Baby Food
Apple Baby Food
Pear Baby Food
Pea Baby Food
Green Bean Baby Food
Avocado Baby Food
Butternut Squash Baby Food
Peach Baby Food
Spinach Baby Food
Blueberry Baby Food
Chicken and Apples Baby Food
Chicken and Sweet Potato Baby Food
Beans, Collards, and Rice Baby Food
Start by making smaller quantities using a variety of foods, including fruits and vegetables-fresh, frozen, or canned in their own juices-along with meats. Think of it as a gourmet tasting for your infant. Because it can take your baby several tastes to acquire an affinity for a food, begin your baby-food venture by making more of what they like and throwing in just a few new things to expand their palate.
How Much Baby Food Should I Make?
When making homemade baby food, be careful not to go overboard with quantities: "Parents get caught up in thinking they need large stashes of pureed baby food," says Jill Castle, Parents advisor and a registered dietitian in New Canaan, Connecticut, and the author of The Smart Mom's Guide to Starting Solids. "Keep in mind, it's not a forever thing."
Castle says that children should not still be eating pureed food when they have graduated up to table food. So having a few months of pureed food at the ready makes sense, but not, say, a year's worth.
Tips for Homemade Baby Food Safety
Follow these tips to make sure your homemade baby food is safe.
Be vigilant about cleanliness. Babies' sensitive immune systems make them more susceptible to food poisoning than adults. Fruits and vegetables should be thoroughly washed and peeled, especially those that are grown close to the ground like strawberries, carrots, and potatoes. Never use outdated canned food or food from dented, rusted, or leaking cans or jars. Keep work surfaces, cutting utensils, and your hands immaculately clean, and be sure to use separate cutting boards for meat, poultry, and fish.
Cook food properly. After removing all seeds and pits from the fruits and vegetables-or bones and gristle from the meat or fish-cook until tender. Steaming fruits and vegetables with a small amount of water retains vitamins and minerals. When cooking meat, use a meat thermometer to ensure internal temperatures reach at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit for white meat poultry, at least 145 degrees for fish, and 160 degrees for red meat and pork.
Toss any leftovers. Any food that was served to your baby but not eaten must be tossed after the meal. If a spoon goes into the baby's mouth and then touches the food, that food may be contaminated with bacteria from inside the mouth-in other words, it's not salvageable.
How to Freeze Homemade Baby Food
"You can pretty much freeze about anything," says Castle. A simple way to freeze baby food is spooning it into clean ice cube trays. After it has frozen, store the cubes in clean, airtight freezer-safe containers. You can also plop single serving portions of food on a clean cookie sheet and freeze those. After they're frozen, transfer them to clean, freezer-safe containers.
Clearly label and date the tiny meals in the freezer. For the best quality, Castle recommends they be consumed within three months. Unfrozen baby food should linger in the refrigerator no longer than two days, and once defrosted, the pureed food should never be refrozen.