Written by Jacqui Campbell MS, RD, CDN
I want to start out by saying there are lots of opinions and mixed recommendations for when to start solids with babies. This blog post is not intended to provide recommendations as to when and how much to feed your baby, only to share my experiences. As with everything, it is important to talk to your pediatrician, do your own research, and trust you gut when determining if you and your baby are ready to start introducing solids. Every baby and every situation is different so just do you, boo boo!
Being not only a dietitian, but a foodie also, you can imagine how excited I was when we got the green light from our pediatrician to start feeding our little guy solid foods. As someone who loves to cook and play around in the kitchen I knew I wanted to try to make my own baby food. Not only that, but homemade baby food:
- Saves money, even if using organic produce. Organic baby food goes for at least 99cents for a 4oz jar. I found a deal on organic pears, a 2lb bag for $1.99 at Aldi! Plus, I had lots of organic sweet potatoes and squash from our Oxen Hill Farm CSA.
- It’s fairly simple, and you can use the same foods you’re preparing for yourself.
- Avoids additives and preservatives. You know exactly what goes into it.
As I went through the list of “first foods” I googled “how to make whatever fruit/vegetable baby food” and found it to be fairly simple and straight forward. If you think about it, you don’t really need a recipe for a one-ingredient food. The important thing when making baby food puree is to ensure you can get a smooth, soft consistency.
Making baby food purees
I start by first looking at the food and asking “would I cook this to eat it?”
- If yes, obviously I cook it. I make sure it’s pretty soft and easily stabbed with a fork. Examples include sweet potatoes, butternut squash, peas, and green beans. So far I’ve used a mixture of fresh sweet potatoes and squash, and frozen peas and green beans.
- If no, ask “is this food soft enough to mash with a fork?”.
- Bananas and avocados can be mashed with a fork and fed like that. I personally felt a little nervous about getting it mashed up enough, so I still used the food processor to ensure an even consistency.
- Fruits like ripe peaches and pears do not need to be cooked, but do require a little more processing.
- If the food is too tough to mash raw — i.e. apples, less ripe pears, carrots — I either steam or boil until fork tender.
You don’t need to invest in a fancy “Baby Bullet” or other costly appliance. A decent quality blender or food processor will work fine. Just blend until food is smooth and not too thick. With any food, liquids like water, breast milk or formula can be added to achieve a smoother consistency if needed.
I used a small food processor for most foods so far, but found that my Vitamix did a better job at getting the pea puree smooth, it was just a pain to clean out.
Homemade purees can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days. I use little 2 oz baby food blocks to save individual portions, but you could also just store in a larger container and take out one portion at a time. It is important to discard any leftover food that has been eaten from since bacteria can grow, so don’t spoon out more than your baby will eat.
Purees can easily be frozen for longer storage, since even just 2 apples made more than enough for 3 days. I have frozen some food in the 2oz containers, but have also frozen the purees in ice cube trays. This allows for you to thaw out individual ~1oz portions easily. In the case of the butternut squash I just made an entire squash and froze most of it in 2 ice cube trays. For optimal nutrient retention it’s best to use within 3 months, so don’t go too crazy. Plus, in 3 months your little one will likely be moving on from purees anyway.
We’re still working our way through the first foods, so stay tuned for more as we advance to mixing foods and trying more. So far Jackson has liked everything we’ve tried, but seems to especially like the apples and pears.
We’d love to hear others experience with first foods!
What were your little one’s first and favorite foods? Did you make your own baby foods? Did you skip purees all together?
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