How to Make Baby Food
Tips for Making Homemade Baby Food
Making your own baby food isn't as difficult as it sounds. Prep large batches of food, and put them in the freezer for easy meals.
Whipping up your own baby food gives you total control over what goes into your baby's mouth. You choose the flavor combinations and ingredients, so you know just how healthy the food is. Homemade baby food takes a little more work, but it's not as scary as it sounds.
Preparing for Baby Food Making
Decide on your foods and combinations before you start cooking, so you have all necessary ingredients on hand. Try to use organic produce to cut down on chemicals. Wash your hands and all work surfaces before you start, to avoid contaminating the food. Scrub the fruits and veggies well before cooking them to remove dirt, sprays and other debris.
How to Make the Baby Food
The basic process for making baby food involves cooking and pureeing the ingredients. Fruits and vegetables are the first ingredients parents usually introduce to babies. You can eventually add beans, eggs and well-cooked meat with the skin, fat and connective tissue removed. Don't add sweetener or salt to your baby's food. It's not necessary, and it makes the food less healthy.
Some ingredients are not safe to use in baby food, including:
- Cow's milk before age 1
- Raw, unpasteurized dairy
- Food that you canned yourself due to bacteria potential from improper canning
- Outdated store-bought canned food or food from damaged cans
Use these steps to make the baby food:
- Peel the vegetables if necessary. Cut the fruits or veggies into pieces.
- Steam the produce to make it soft. Steaming retains most of the nutrients in the produce, so it's a healthy option for your baby food. You can also bake, roast or microwave the food.
- Put the ingredients in a baby food processor, mill, grinder, food processor or blender. Add a small amount of water, formula or breast milk to thin the food.
- Process the food until it reaches the desired consistency and texture. Younger babies do better with thin, well-processed food. Older babies can handle slightly thicker food with a little more texture.
- Cool the food before putting it in storage containers.
Try different food combinations as your baby starts eating more. Look at jarred baby foods for inspiration, or try your own creative combinations. Keep track of the flavors your baby enjoys.
Safe Storage for Homemade Baby Food
Unless you make fresh baby food for each meal, you need a safe storage system for your baby's food. Store the food in individual serving sizes for easy reheating. One simple way to create small portions is to dish the food into sections of ice cube trays. Freeze the food, pop out the cubes, and store them in the freezer in a freezer bag.
These homemade baby food storage tips make homemade food convenient and help prevent bacterial growth that can make your little one sick:
- Store the cooked food at room temperature for no longer than one or two hours after cooking.
- Label all containers with the ingredients and date.
- Store fruit and veggie baby food in the refrigerator for no longer than 48 hours.
- Store baby food containing meat, poultry or eggs for no longer than 24 hours in the refrigerator.
- Move baby food to the freezer for storage up to one month.
- Thaw frozen baby food in the refrigerator. Never leave it at room temperature to thaw because it has a higher potential for growing dangerous bacteria.
- Heat refrigerated or thawed frozen baby food to 165 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure it is safe. Cool the food back down to no more than body temperature for your baby to eat.
- Throw away any food your baby doesn't eat. Bacteria from the saliva can cause bacterial growth in partially eaten baby food.
Avoiding Food Allergies
When making homemade baby food, start with individual ingredients. Introduce one new food at a time, so you can make sure your little one isn't allergic. If your baby seems fine after a few days, try another single-ingredient homemade baby food. Once you have several single ingredients you know are safe, you can start mixing them to create flavorful combinations.
Tips for Making Baby Food
If the thought of making homemade baby food seems intimidating, check out these tips to make the process easier:
- Prep large batches at once. You can freeze the food in small portions for easy use.
- Cook extra portions of the foods you serve yourself. Many of the foods you eat work well in homemade baby food.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables offer the most nutrients for your baby, especially when used within one or two days. Frozen is a good alternative because you can have ingredients ready in your freezer.
- Use leak-proof containers for storage, so you can take the food on-the-go.