It’s that time. Your baby has reached that 6-month mark and it’s time to get brave and start testing out solid baby foods. You have dipped your toe into the pool of beginner baby foods with the classics like pureed apples, carrots, and green beans. Now it’s time for something more exciting to wake up baby’s taste buds. Making your own baby food may seem daunting but it is actually easier than you think!
How to Get Started
All you need are a few simple tools. A big pot and a steaming basket, a blender of choice and a few storage containers. You may even have all of the supplies already. So easy, so simple — so what are you waiting for?
If your baby is still in the trial phase for foods, there are some really basic foods that are so easy to make yourself, you will kick yourself for relying solely on packaged baby food in the past. Foods that make for an easy steam and puree are carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, green beans, peaches, and apples. The hardest part is peeling the fruits and veggies, but in the long run, a little work will be worth the effort. Make big batches and you can freeze in ice cube trays then transfer to freezer bags. Defrost as needed.
Once your baby has tested the waters with most of these basic purees, it is time to head over to flavor town. My doctor never really gave us restrictions regarding foods. He told me to “have at it.” Try egg yolks, then whites. Bring on the peanut butter. Our oldest child suffers from a food allergy and I was terrified to experiment but went forward with his recommendations with nothing but success. Yes, every doctor is different and you may lean towards the more cautious approach and that is fine! To each their own. Progress as you feel comfortable.
When creating combinations, think to yourself, what do I like to eat? What flavors do I put together for our meals? Using similar ingredients makes your work much easier for both your meals and babies. Prep once, use twice. Even if you steam and prep some ingredients and don’t use them for a day or two, it’s fine. They are ready to go when you are.
I like to take two hours on a Saturday and Sunday and knock out my baby food for the week. Once that steamer gets going, you can keep cooking in batches, combine ingredients, let them cool, blend and store. Keep in mind some veggies take longer to steam than others. Carrots take forever. Sweet potatoes and butternut squash, although very dense to cut, steam fairly quickly.
You can also use frozen vegetables. I love to use frozen green beans, corn, spinach and peas. They are frozen at the peak of freshness, have no added ingredients like salt or preservatives and go right from bag to steamer. There are also great veggie combos that you can throw into the steamer and have baby food ready to go within minutes on days when your stash is running low. I like to bake chicken breasts in a bath of low sodium broth for extra flavor. We are not an exclusive homemade family. I do buy some containers for on the go to make life easier.
My Favorite Tips
Dice fruits and veggies into small pieces. The smaller the dice, the quicker they steam. Check doneness by smashing a sample piece with a fork. If it smashes easily, you are ready to puree once cool. Very ripe fruits can be used without steaming once your little one is a bit older which makes baby food prep even easier.
Don’t puree until the veggies and fruit have cooled down. If the lid comes loose or if the puree leaks, it is going to burn you. I learned this the hard way. Wait until the veggies have cooled a bit and puree away.
Always reserve your steaming liquids to help ensure a smooth puree which you can add as needed.
Starchy foods will keep absorbing liquids so make sure these purees are on the runny side before storing. If they are too runny, you can always add cereal to thicken things up, but it shouldn’t be a problem.
Homemade Baby Food Recipe Ideas
I have put together a few great flavor combinations that my little guy loves, to share with you. He is 9 months old and still has no teeth so we are still eating purees with some soft finger foods such as ripe avocados, bananas, peaches, plums. Feel free to try a chunkier style or a tiny dice on ingredients if your little one is up for more texture in their food.
Enchilada Puree: butternut squash, black beans, corn, chicken, avocado
Chicken Noodle Soup: pastina, low or no sodium chicken stock/broth, carrots, peas
Summer Garden: white potatoes, green beans, corn, ground chicken, beef or pork
Beef Roast: ground beef, white potatoes, carrots, green beans, low or no sodium beef broth, no salt added tomato sauce
Pear, pineapple and avocado with cereal
Banana Blueberry Yogurt: Steam blueberries for a few minutes or microwave about a minute to soften up. Blend with yogurt and a super ripe banana. Add cereal for a thicker consistency if you like.
Roasted Cauliflower with Turmeric: This is one of our favorite recipes in our house. For the adult version, add olive oil, garlic, turmeric, salt and pepper. For the baby version, sprinkle with just olive oil and turmeric. Roast and blend.
Baby Ratatouille: red bell peppers, zucchini, no salt added tomato sauce, eggplant (peeled), a small pinch of Italian seasoning.
White Bean Soup: No salt added cannellini beans, chicken broth, 1/4 clove of grated garlic, 1/8 of a small onion, carrots. Add ingredients to broth and boil until veggies and beans are tender. Blend well.
Long story short, don’t be afraid to try new things. Expose your baby to lots of flavors and texture combinations. Try different beans, try different meats, throw in some chopped egg for extra protein. Experiment with a few minimal amounts of spices. Try flavor profiles that your family is already eating to make your life easier. Once again, prep once, use twice! And keep it up. Let’s keep our kids trying new flavors so they don’t have a chance to become picky eaters.
*Always consult with your doctor before trying anything new. Pay close attention when trying new ingredients for any hint of reactions.*