I have always enjoyed cooking, baking and homemaking so naturally when my little boy was ready to make the leap from breast milk and solids, I knew that I wanted to make his baby food. There is a lot of information out there and I found myself a little overwhelmed and a bit confused when considering where to start. Through my own experimentation I have come up with a simplified process that any mama can do; making baby food doesn’t need to cause your hair to fall out in the process! I have also included some creative tips and recipes.
First you will want to decide which foods you want to introduce, and in what order. I decided to forgo the traditional cereals and go straight to nutritious fruits and vegetables. I recommend starting a food calendar. I use a regular 12 month calendar and hang it on my refrigerator. Pick your start day and write the food that you will introduce. You will introduce 1 food, 3-4 days in a row before starting the next food. I always introduce new foods in the morning; this was you have all day to observe any reactions. You can also use your calendar to record any changes you notice: possible reactions, sleep problems, allergies, digestive issues, etc.
Kitchen supplies you will need:
- Vegetable peeler
- Food processor or NINJA blender
- Pan with steamer basket or electric steamer
- Baking dishes
- Large bowls
- Silicone molds
- Gallon freezer Ziploc bags
When you go to the store to pick out your produce, start small. You don’t know how many servings each veggie and/or fruit will give you. Once you’ve been through the food making process a few times, you’ll get the hang of quantity and portions, and then you can hit up Costco and go food crazy!
I started with and recommend you buy:
- 1 large sweet potato
- 1 butternut squash
- 5 baseball size peaches
- 5 pears
Don’t worry if your fruit if it is not entirely ripe. In the beginning you will cook all your fruit, which ripens it and brings out its natural sweetness.
Prep is Important
Giving yourself space and time to prepare your fruits and veggies is very important. I usually do this during nap time. I clean my kitchen, get out all my kitchen supplies and food, and start prepping.
When you are ready to start, follow these simple steps:
- Wash all fruits and vegetables.
- Decide what you will bake and what you will steam (I bake the sweet potato and butternut squash and steam the fruit).
- Cut squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Puncture sweet potato with fork and wrap it in foil. Peel fruit and remove seeds/pits and slice into cubes.
- Cook/ steam as desired until the fruit/veggie pricks easily with knife or fork.
- Allow to cool down before placing in blender to puree.
- Reserve any cooking liquid so that you can add to blender until desired consistency is reached (note: do not add reserved water from carrots due to nitrates). You can also use breast milk, but keep in mind that once breast milk is defrosted it need to be consumed within 24 hrs, even when mixed with food and should not be refrozen if it has already been thawed.
- Fill silicone molds (I like molds better than ice cube trays as they hold more servings, are easier to remove frozen food from, and clean really easy). I use these molds.
- Once frozen, flip mold over onto paper towel and push center to pop out.
- Label your Ziplocs with food and date, and then fill and seal.
- Place frozen food promptly in the freezer.
Once you have introduced a variety of single ingredient foods to your child and he/she is old enough (7-8 months) to move beyond that, then you can start making custom blends. I think this is the most exciting part of making my own baby food. I mean, where can you go buy a jar of food that has peas, zucchini and parsnips? I also make fresh apple pie (apples and yogurt topped with powdered cheerios).
Here are a few of my little’s guys favorites along with the fun names that I come up with:
P.Z.P- peas, zucchini, parsnips
Squashy Apple Potato- butternut squash, apples, sweet potato
Butter-beanaragus- butternut squash, green bean, asparagus
C.A.N.-carrots, apricot, nectarine
Triple P- peaches, pears, prunes
Plumberry- plums & blueberries
Chicken/Turkey dinner-chicken/turkey, sweet potato, carrots or chicken/turkey, sweet potato, apple or chicken/turkey, pumpkin, squash
Fruit Pie- fruit of choice, full fat yogurt, topped with powdered cheerios
I encourage you to experiment. I taste everything too before serving it to my little guy. This way I can tell tell if it’s too sour or bland and can add things to make it more interesting. A couple of times I have definitely not been pleased with the taste, and had to jazz it up before giving it to him.
Sample Weekly Menu
Here is an idea of what we’re serving this week. My son just turned 8 months old and we are introducing blueberries.
AM: Butter-beanaragus and plumberry
Lunch: Squashy apple potato
PM: Chicken dinner and apple pie
AM: P.Z.P. and plumberry
PM: Turkey Dinner and pumpkin pie
AM: Pumpkin, carrot, mango and plumberry
Lunch: Squashy apple potato
PM: Butter-beanaragus and triple P
Tips and Tricks
- Keep a “junk bowl” in your prep area to put all of your waste into. It will save you the back and forth to the trash.
- Set up an outside blending station. I do most of my food making during my little boy’s nap so it’s easy to prep and cook everything in the kitchen and step outside to blend. I don’t have to worry about the noise waking him.
- For easy storage put all Ziplocs in a recyclable grocery bag and then in the freezer. Makes it easier when it’s time to take portions out.
- I typically make food once every 2 weeks. Remember to keep notes of which foods you’re introducing, and what you’re running low on.
- I defrost into 4 oz glass canning jars. I like to store in glass and then I paint the lids with chalkboard paint so that I can easily label what food is in each with a chalk marker. This makes it easy for my husband and other caretakers as well.
- I take out and store 3 days of food in a basket in the refrigerator at a time.
- This is the book I refer to most.