Homemade Baby Food: Tips and Tricks
Once you’re ready to start feeding solids to your baby -- usually when he’s between 4 and 6 months old -- one of your top questions may be whether to buy your child’s baby food or make it at home. Both are fine options, but if you do choose to go the route of homemade baby food, know that it can be a fun and tasty choice for your new baby! Let these tips get you started.
Invest in the basics.
Preparing homemade baby food doesn’t require expensive equipment. All you really need is a blender or a food processor, a chopping knife, and ice-cube trays if you want to freeze extra batches of food. The fancy baby food you see in stores may look appealing, but in most cases you can get the same quality using the cooking tools you already have in your kitchen.
Your new baby’s immune system is still developing, so it’s important to wash and scrub fruits and veggies before cooking them, keep a clean preparation surface, and store foods appropriately. If there are any leftovers in your baby’s bowl after he eats, discard them to avoid contamination.
Cook what you eat.
A simple way to prepare homemade baby food is to cook for your baby the same food you’re eating, when safe and appropriate. If you’re having, say, a sweet potato with your fish dinner, throw another sweet potato in the oven for your baby. Don't add any salt or seasonings to your child's portion, and make sure the food is lukewarm when you serve it so it doesn’t burn his little mouth. For young babies just getting started eating solids, you'll need to mash or puree the potato.
There are certain foods to avoid when making homemade baby food. Spinach, beets, turnips, carrots, and collard greens may contain levels of nitrates that are not safe for young babies. (These vegetables are safer in commercially prepared baby food because manufacturers test for nitrates.)
There’s no need to whip up a culinary feast for your baby -- in fact, the simpler, the better. Remember to introduce only one food at a time, waiting at least two or three days before you introduce another, so you can watch for a possible allergic reaction. Your little one will gobble up these yummy baby food concoctions:
- Apples and pears: Bake or steam peeled, cored apples and pears until tender. Cool and puree until smooth.
- Green banana: Peel a ripe banana and avocado with the pit removed. Mash together until smooth (no need to cook!).
For the first year of your baby’s life, breast milk or formula should be your baby’s main form of nutrition, so don’t be worried if your baby isn’t taking in too much of your homemade baby food. For now, just enjoy teaching your baby about the wonderful tastes of different vegetables, fruits, and other foods.