When my three year old daughter was once a baby I found this book called Cooking for Baby at the thrift store. I cooked homemade baby food for her and she loved it. Now that my second daughter is 6 months old, she has been eating new foods since she was 4 and a half months old. It is a very exciting time for both of us!
As a mama it is very fulfilling to cook meals from scratch for my family and especially my baby. I enjoy making homemade baby food for Mackenzie. When I make homemade baby food I am able to control what types of food I make and I know exactly what is in it. I choose to buy organic fruits and vegetables which are free of harmful chemicals.
Starting solids is a wonderful time for babies to learn to eat, try new foods and experience different flavors, textures and temperatures. While nursing your baby or giving them formula is the primary aspect of you baby’s diet for the first year, solids are a wonderful milestone. Introducing solid foods is a great supplement to their nutrition that will help them get ready for when you wean nursing or stop giving formula once they are over a year old and are able to eat a variety of foods.
I know not all mamas are able to make homemade baby food. But if you are able and want to, it is rewarding to make and it will definitely taste better than store bought baby food. Your baby may even be open to eating a wider variety of foods because they will be better acclimated to eating different flavors and textures as opposed to bland packaged food.
Making homemade baby food is simple but it does require an effort on your part. I think the most challenging aspect is having to bust out the food processor to make each meal and all of the dishes you create, but that is cooking in general. However, once you make a batch you will have a large stock pile of baby food ready when you need it. I truly think it is worth the effort, plus the look on your baby’s face tasting the homemade food you just made them is priceless and adorable.
Making homemade baby food
Is your baby ready to start solids?
The best way to find out is to be observe and follow signs from your baby. According to Cooking for Baby your baby may be ready to begin solid foods if:
- baby stays hungry after their feedings
- she or he is showing interest in your food, looking at it and even trying to grab it
- your baby does not just spit up pureed foods but can swallow the pureed food
- baby is able to sit up on his or her own without assistance
- he or she is able to refuse food by turning his or her head away
I also would add that if your baby has cut a tooth or teeth that is a sign they are preparing to eat solids. At 5 months Mackenzie got her first tooth on the bottom of her mouth and now at 6 months a second tooth on the bottom is coming in. However every baby gets teeth on their own time, so it isn’t the only indicator. But if they do have teeth they will be able to use them to help chew and break down food.
Choose organic fruits and vegetables
As parents we want what is best for our kids and choosing toxin free food is something we can do by making our own homemade baby food. Organic fruits and vegetables weren’t sprayed with toxic pesticides and therefore your baby is getting a clean natural fruit or vegetable. Organic food is also not genetically modified.
I like to buy organic fruits and vegetables especially for the foods on the Environmental Working Groups dirty dozen list. The dirty dozen list consists of twelve produce items that are “dirty.” These foods contain the highest amount of pesticide residue. Because this produce is full of toxic pesticides these are a definite avoid when making homemade baby food. The 2020 list isn’t available yet but here is the list for 2019. Try to buy organic for all of the items on the dirty dozen list if you can.
Dirty Dozen List for 2019
There is also a Clean 15 list by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group of produce items which contain the least amount of chemical pesticide residue. Therefore the food items on this list are safer to buy non-organic.
Clean 15 List for 2019
2. Sweet Corn
4. Frozen Sweet Peas
15. Honeydew Melons
In our home we buy organic food as often as possible and even though it costs more we see it as preventative for our health and the health of our family.
Best first foods for baby to try at 6 months
Cooking for Baby recommends these foods for the first foods for baby to try:
sweet potato or yams
pumpkin or butternut squash
Avoid adding salt to baby’s food, giving honey and cows milk to babies who are under 1 year old.
Other ideas for making homemade food for baby to try at 6 months
Try feeding your baby other foods from the meals you cook for dinner for your family. As long as they are basically pureed or really soft they should be fine for baby. For example I made a carrot soup with cumin in it and Mackenzie loved it. I have also mashed avocado and banana for her to eat, as well as sweet potatoes. I overcooked the rice one night so it was really mushy and our baby enjoyed eating that. We eat oatmeal on a regular basis for breakfast and I cook blueberries, cherries and mixed berries depending on the day. I held cooked berries that were completely soft in my hand and Mackenzie ate them including some of the skin. She was ready for it, so just adjust to what your baby is ready for.
Make sure to fully watch your baby while eating
There is always the chance your baby may get a piece of food that is too big and they are not ready to handle eating yet. Watch your baby closely for signs of choking or coughing. Sweep their mouth with your finger to get any pieces out. If your baby starts coughing let them cough to help dislodge the food. In emergencies flip them over to do CPR for baby, with 5 back blows and if even worse chest thrusts. If you are in a life threatening situation call 911.
Additionally, when baby is first starting solids don’t let anyone else feed your baby. I say this because I was in a situation where a family member offered to feed my baby and gave her a piece of soft food that she couldn’t handle, it was scary and she was safe but it was my fault for letting someone else feed her, only you as the parent knows where you baby is at in eating solids, so don’t be afraid to say “no that is okay, I will feed her (or him).”
How often should you feed your baby?
Cooking with Baby states:
Each month, start offering baby an additional daily meal, so that by 8 months he/she is eating 3 times a day.
It is best to nurse or feed baby formula before you give them solid food, but it is fine if you nurse or give formula after. Also, give your baby the same type of food for three days straight. This way you know if your baby has a reaction to the food. If you baby does have a reaction you will be able to know what food caused it.
Tools you will need to make homemade baby food
- Food processor or blender (we have this one)
- Whole organic fruits and vegetables
- pot to cook the food (I love this 3 qt eco-friendly saucepan)
- silicone baby food freezer tray (similar)
- baby spoons (these are great as baby’s first spoon because the silicone end is soft for baby to bite on)
While writing this post I realized there are baby food makers out there that steam and puree the baby food for you in one machine! This is something I may look into. A lot of the bowls in the machines are plastic though and I don’t want plastic to leach into the food. In some reviews some moms said that the blending aspect didn’t blend well enough, so we will see. They do make baby food makers with glass bowls and a lot of parents love them. I make baby food the basic way using what tools I already have in my kitchen, but if I decide to get the machine to make it easier I’ll do a post about it!
How to make homemade baby food
Below I used a recipe from the book Cooking for Baby to make an Apple Puree. I used organic Opal Apples. I really like the book Cooking with Baby because the recipes are so simple. The recipes for baby that are up to 6 months old are about cooking the fruit or vegetable, pureeing it and watering it down with breast milk or water to the consistency your baby is able to handle. I’ve made almost all of the recipes in this chapter and my baby has loved them all!
Apple Puree recipe from Cooking for Baby
- Core and quarter 6 apples, Golden or Red Delicious (I only had three apples for mine)
- Steam or boil apples until they are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife about 10-12 minutes.
- Let cool, reserving cooking liquids. Make sure to scrape the puree from the skins and puree in a food processor along with reserved cooking liquid.
First you cook the fruit or vegetables by steaming or boiling
Make sure to scrape the cooked apples from the skins. Put the cooking liquid along with the cooked portion of the apple in the food processor. Use as much cooking liquid as you need to puree them.
Puree the cooked food in a food processor or blender
Pour the pureed baby food in the silicone baby food freezer tray
Let the pureed baby food cool of a little bit before you place the silicone tray in the freezer. The fresh baby food will stay good for three days in your refrigerator. The frozen baby food will keep for up to three months in the freezer.
Let the food freeze and then place it in storage containers in the freezer. I use silicone bags.
Once the silicone tray is in the freezer, let it freeze. Then pop out the portions of homemade baby food and store them in freezer safe containers. I love using these food grade silicone bags to store my homemade baby food in the freezer. Once in the freezer your frozen baby food will keep for three months.
Reheat the food to feed your baby
After you make the homemade baby food puree you can store it in a covered container in your refrigerator for up to three days. The frozen baby food can be thawed in the fridge and put out to room temperature for up to 30 minutes. Don’t refreeze thawed out baby food. Try giving your baby food that is different temperatures and she which way he or she may prefer it.
It is best to place the frozen baby food in a saucepan to heat on the stove. You can place it in the microwave but you have to be careful that you stir it and don’t make it too hot. I prefer the saucepan since it is more natural but if you don’t have time go ahead and microwave it in 20 second intervals while stirring, remembering to check so that it isn’t hot for your baby.
Enjoy feeding your baby!
Mackenzie isn’t sitting up on her own yet so for now we are having her sit in our lap. I just realized we do have a portable baby chair that we can start using for her. Once she is able to sit up on her own we have a wooden high chair for her to use, the same one her big sister used. There are so many options out there when it comes to high chairs! There are also so many cute bib options too!
Don’t worry about messes! Feeding a baby is a messy experience, food will get everywhere and that is okay! What is important is that baby learns to chew the food, try new flavors, textures and learns to enjoy the act of eating. A bib will help make it less messy but food will likely end up on both of our clothes in the process which is okay.
What do you like to feed your baby at 6 months or older!? I hope this blog post helps you in making homemade baby for your your baby!
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