Step-By-Step How to Make Your Own Baby Food (Infographic!)
Making your own baby food is a wonderful way to introduce your baby to delicious, fresh flavors. Homemade baby food is healthy, affordable, and surprisingly easy!
In this guide, I’ll show you, step-by-step, how you can make your own baby food. No fancy gadgets or contraptions needed. You can also download as an infographic here, and this guide will always be within easy reach!
Why make your own baby food?
Store bought baby food, in those jars and pouches, just can’t compete with the freshness of homemade. While it’s true that some baby foods are made using fresh ingredients, they’re also sitting on the shelf for a while, months maybe, before making it to your home.
Store bought baby food may also contain preservatives and thickeners that you don’t need with homemade baby food. When you look at the labels, you’ll see ingredients like “Ascorbic Acid” or “Citric Acid”, both of which are natural preservatives (like lemon juice). You may also see thickeners like cornstarch or xanthan gum. While perfectly safe, these ingredients affect the flavor and nutrition of your baby food.
Finally, compare the price. A single jar or pouch of baby food could cost you $1-2, but preparing the same food at home usually costs pennies. When making your own baby food, you are in control of the quality of the ingredients, and with the money you save by making baby food at home, you might be able to afford more organic fruits and veggies.
How much baby food should I make?
One important tip to keep in mind is that your baby will likely only be eating pureed food for a short while, maybe 2-3 months. Every baby is different, but once your baby has become skilled at brining food to the back of their mouth and swallowing, you can start introducing more textures to help your baby learn and practice chewing. Even with no teeth, your baby can chew!
To give you an example of how much baby food to make, when my daughter was starting on solids, I made purees that filled about 6-8 ice cube trays. I made a small amount of different fruits and veggies, usually 1/2 to 1 whole ice cube tray of each one. I used things like apples, pears, peas, sweet potatoes, carrots, peaches, and some oatmeal that I ground in my food processor and cooked with water. This amount was plenty for us, I even had extra purees to use up by the time she was eating finger foods. Our frozen pureed food was supplemented with fresh foods, like yogurt, mashed banana, mashed avocado, eggs, and hummus.
Making your own baby food can work for any parent, no matter their time constraints, work schedule, or budget! All my purees were made while I was working full time, my husband was working around the clock, and, of course, we were both sleep-deprived.
What kinds of food should I make for my baby?
The internet is full of articles telling you exactly what’s the best first food to feed your baby. In fact, there is no specific order of foods you should start with. In the past, you may have gotten the advice to start with rice cereal, but this isn’t necessary, and I don’t recommend it, as infant rice cereal may contain higher levels of dangerous arsenic.
So, what is the first solid food you should feed your baby?
It’s really a personal choice. In my house, I chose to give my daughter mashed avocado first, because I absolutely love avocados and I wanted to share that with her. Like many babies, she was not a fan first, but over a year later she likes them almost as much as I do!
Many parents like to offer a fruit or vegetable as a first food for baby. It doesn’t matter which you start with, as long as it’s an appropriate texture and cooked well. Some classic first fruits and veggies are: banana, avocado, applesauce, sweet potatoes, and carrots. Other parents prefer a grain, like oatmeal, barley or quinoa. Or, you can go with an iron rich food, like egg yolks, meat, beans, or lentils.
Choosing Fruits & Veggies
I recommend using fresh or frozen fruits and veggies to make your own baby foods. When picking fresh foods, look for foods that are in season, as they will be the tastiest and most affordable. Take a look at my articles on Seasonal Baby Food for Fall and Winter here. When choosing frozen fruits and veggies, look for packages with no added salt or sugar. Frozen fruits are just as nutritious as fresh, since frozen produce is picked at the peak of ripeness and flash-frozen, preserving the nutrients in the food.
There are lots of websites where you can get inspiration for different baby food blends and combinations. I love Weelicious, they have some wonderful ideas and recipes. You can also get inspiration from the jars and pouches at the grocery store! I’ve seen some really interesting combinations of flavors that I would never have been able to think of myself. Simply find a combination that you like, get the ingredients and make it at home!
It’s important to practice good food safety when making homemade baby food. Infants and young children have a weaker immune system than adults, so they are at greater risk for food-borne illnesses. Some good principles to follow include:
Wash your hands before preparing food for your baby, and before feeding your baby.
Clean all surfaces used to prepare food often, including knives, cutting boards, blenders, and pots.
Keep raw and cooked foods separate. Don’t reuse any utensils, cutting boards or other cooking tools after they have come into contact with raw meat, poultry, fish or eggs.
Don’t serve your baby raw or undercooked meat, poultry, fish or eggs.
Homemade baby foods can be safely stored in the refrigerator for 1 day, or in the freezer for 1-2 months.
Reheat foods from the refrigerator or freezer until they are thoroughly heated, then let stand until they are cool enough to eat.
Don’t serve your baby any foods that say “unpasteurized” or “raw”, which you may see on milk or juice labels.
Infographic - How to make your own baby food
Download this easy-to-follow infographic here, so you’ll have an easy reference to making your own baby food!