Delicious, nutritious and easy, homemade baby food is a great way to introduce your baby to a variety of fruits, vegetables, textures and flavors, and it can be more economical than buying pre-made foods. While it’s true that making your own baby food takes more time than using pre-made foods, there are a few tips and tricks that can help you prepare homemade food easier and faster.
Some basic cooking tips and planning strategies can help parents make baby food more comfortably. You can make baby food while you make other dishes you are preparing. For example, if you’re baking sweet potatoes or steaming broccoli, put some aside before adding salt and use it for a baby meal. Or, if you’re serving broccoli in a steamer for a family dinner, add a pear or apple puree to your baby’s meal.
Remember, too, that they only need a small amount (say, a quarter of a small sweet potato, or even less), so you can refrigerate or freeze some in the future.
Choosing fruits and vegetables
Almost any fruit or vegetable can be made into a puree or given to your baby. If you can, choose organic produce (but not essential). Some people choose to feed their babies organic produce, but it’s important to remember that all produce contains important nutrients that help expose babies to a variety of flavors and textures.
For those times when you don’t buy fresh, frozen foods may be an easier option and just as nutritious (in fact, because fruits and vegetables can be picked and frozen immediately, sometimes they are more nutritious!) . Canned fruits and vegetables are also an option, but choose those without added sugar or salt.
Your first step is to wash your fresh produce thoroughly, removing any seeds, skins or cores. You can choose to thinly peel fruits and vegetables (such as apples and potatoes), or leave the skins on.
You may want to cook most of the fruits and vegetables before pureeing them, as you will get a smoother result when blending. Except for bananas and avocados, which just need to be mashed with a fork. Both of these foods are susceptible to preventable browning, but it does not affect their nutritional value or flavor.
How to cook baby food
The smoothest sauces usually come from a wet cooking method, such as steaming or boiling. When you start making your own mashed bread, try:
Steaming (using a steamer or cage on the stove)
Baking or roasting
Once your fruits or vegetables are cooked, add enough liquid (water, breast milk or unsalted broth) to create a smooth texture in a food processor or food mill (for babies who are just starting solids). For older babies, puree with a fork for a thicker consistency.
If serving immediately, add small amounts of breast milk, formula, or water (use cooking water for extra nutrition) as needed to thin your sauce. If you’re freezing food, don’t thin it out first. Only portion out what your baby is eating at a time. Partially consumed foods are not safe to refrigerate or freeze before serving because bacteria can cause illness.