07 May 2013

Making Food For the Baby

tIt seems like yesterday that I was pregnant, writing weekly posts about my growing baby bump.

Now I have an almost-seven month old with two brand new teeth! 

One of my favorite parts of watching Sam grow up is watching him explore new foods and being able to make most of his food.

There are so many ways to do it and gazillions of recipes out there, but I wanted to share my process for making baby food. I love it and hope you will consider it (it's super easy!).

I relied heavily on two cookbooks at the beginning. They helped me understand the basic process and what first food to experiment with. And although there are certain foods that make better first foods, pretty much any fruits and veggies can be made into baby food (make sure to do your research/talk to your doctor about various foods and ages to make sure you're feeding your baby only what they're tiny tummy can handle)

With all new things, I was a bit timid at first, but really, making baby food basically consists of the same few steps:
- prepare food and cook
- process
- store/freeze

That's it!

1. Prep and cook.

Make sure you scrub the food super clean and peel when necessary. If steaming, cut up into small pieces (small bites help them to cook faster).

Most of the fruits and veggies you would use require steaming. I started out using a steamer basket on the stove, but I've found steaming in the microwave is just as effective and way easier. I cook for a few minutes and then add on more time until the produce is tender. 

A few items need to be roasted in the oven -- sweet potatoes and squash are two things that I've roasted.  Generally I roast them for about an hour or more until they're tender.

(I've read the only two things you don't need to cook are avocados and bananas -- cooking helps make the produce easier for babies to digest).

2. Puree 

You can use a variety of machines to puree your fruits and veggies -- food processor or blender work perfectly. I have a baby bullet that I love. It's totally not necessary, but my food processor is huge and my blender is hard to clean so for me, the baby bullet is perfect.

Scoop your cooked item into your processor and add cooking liquid (or water) and blend until it's the consistency perfect for your baby. 

A few tips and tricks:
- I always add the liquid first so that the food doesn't get stuck in the processor (mind sometimes does that). 
- I add just a little liquid at a time. I've read you can also use breast milk or formula but I've always just used water or the cooking liquid.
- I don't worry about the consistency too much since I mix the pureed food with oatmeal or cereal at each meal (I use a bit more water to get it to the consistency Sam prefers).

3. Cool

I always puree right after cooking, so my purees are usually super hot when they're finished. I let them cool to room temperature on the counter and then put them in the fridge to cool for a few hours before freezing.

4. Store

The general rule that I've read is that homemade baby food will last up to three days in the fridge and up to three months in the freezer.

If I need it, I will spoon it out into bowls for the fridge for the next few meals, but I freeze the rest.

There are lots of ways to freeze baby food. There are fancy freezer containers you can buy. I've also heard of freezing it on cookie sheets. I use plain old ice cube trays. Each cube hold two tablespoons, or one ounce, of food. 

I freeze for about 24 hours and then pop them out into a freezer bag. Mark it with the contents and the date and stash it away.

5. Serve

In a perfect world, I would remember to take out cubes for meals for the following days. I use the small pyrex bowls because they can go right from the fridge to the microwave and they are big enough where I can mix the cereal right in.

Normally though I forget. I usually pull the cubes right from the freezer and pop them in the microwave. It only takes about 30 seconds or less to prepare the food. I don't serve it real warm, I just try to heat it so it's not freezing. Make sure to stir the food and test before serving!

Things I love about making baby food -- 

- I really love cooking and spending time in the kitchen. This is just one more way I can use my hands and skills to nourish my family.
- I like being able to make lots of fruits and veggies into baby food, not just the ones Gerber thinks my baby should eat. Jar food has such limited options.
- I like being able to know my baby and the texture that he prefers and is able to handle. I don't think I ever fed Sam "stage 1" food, he just didn't like it.
- It's so fun seeing produce in my fridge and then the next day seeing Sam eating it. I feel so much more a part of the process.
- I haven't run the numbers totally, but for the most part (and for most items) making your own baby food is more cost effective than buying it. I stick to things that are in season or on special. I'm also able to just add an extra bag of apples or a few more zucchinis to my grocery cart instead of having to figure in a whole new category to my grocery budget. 
- There is so much less waste with making your own food. No jars to get rid of (or hopefully recycle), and since we compost, all of the waste from preparing the food goes into the compost pile.

Things to keep in mind -- 

- If you choose to make baby food, you absolutely do not have to make it all. I've been buying peaches because, until recently, peaches have been too expensive. 
- I am a huge fan of the squeezy baby food pouches. They are so convenient for our family when we're on the go. They make refillable pouches that you could put your own food in. I've considered those, but I like the shelf stable-ness of the ones you buy so that we can be more flexible.

I'd love to know: do you make your own baby food? What are some resources you've found useful? Any other tips or suggestions?


  1. I love making my daughter's baby food - I love cooking & being in the kitchen, so it's also been another way to spend more time in there. My process is almost exactly the same as yours! The ice cube trays are the best & so cheap since I picked up a few from the dollar store. I buy purees of things that aren't in season here (like peaches and plums) and aren't able to get a hold of yet. I'm looking forward to trying new things with my daughter! I used the book "The Best Baby Food on the Planet" to get myself introduced & it's an awesome resource for different veggies and combinations. It goes all the way up to toddler years and has some great looking recipes that are different than the standard toddler fare.

    Also, Sam is the cutest! Love his little smile :)

  2. Great ideas! I will have to pin this for later. (much later!) :)

  3. Making your own baby food is such a cool idea! I am studying hopefully to go into pediatrics, and we always recommend that you start with the vegetables and then move to the fruits, because if you give them the sweet fruits first they more than likely won't want the vegetables. We also strongly suggest starting one food at a time so you can monitor for allergies, and introducing a new food each week.

  4. This is so awesome, good for you. I plan on making food for our babies once we have them, will have to refer back to this!

  5. Thanks for posting this.This is awesome!!

  6. I'm pinning this one for later...I'm sure I'll be doing this before I know it! Thanks for sharing, Laura.

    And I love your new blog design :)

  7. I was wondering what books you use? We have one book "super baby food" which we love but just wondering about other books about baby food. We (okay my husband) make all of M's baby food, you are right it is so easy and so much cheaper!! all you need is a magic bullet and some veg and fruits. Do you add spices at all? I am thinking of trying some spices (I read that it is good to introduce spices to baby when they are young))

  8. Love this, Laura! I'm going to be making some food now! Sounds so easy.

  9. Love this, Laura! I'm going to be making some food now! Sounds so easy.


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