Homemade baby food recipes

Homemade Baby Food Recipes

November 27, 2019
7 min read

The time will come when your baby is ready to begin trying solid foods. At this time, you might be thinking of making your own homemade baby food.

Discover what you need to know about starting your little one on solids, including the benefits of homemade baby food, how to safely prepare and store your baby’s food, and what foods it may not be safe to give at this stage.

Plus, we’ve also collected some easy baby food recipes for you to try out.

What's in this article:

Why Make Homemade Baby Food? Sample Baby Food Recipes Guidelines for Making Baby Food at Home Foods to Avoid Food Allergies or Intolerances

Why Make Homemade Baby Food?

Although commercial baby food can be a convenient option, making your own baby food has some great benefits too, such as:

  • Avoiding the preservatives and processing of some store-bought baby food
  • Having control of the amount of salt and sugar in your homemade baby food
  • Being more eco-friendly, as you can reuse your own food storage containers
  • Potentially saving some money
  • Introducing your baby to your family’s unique foods, flavors, and eating habits by having him eat some of what you’re eating. For example, if you’re making roast chicken with carrots for dinner, you can easily puree either the chicken or the carrots to feed your little one.
  • Enjoying the actual process of preparing baby food. Once you get the hang of it, this can be quite easy and fun — especially if you like to cook. You can simply mash the food with a fork or blend it using a blender (either a standard model or a special baby food blender).

Sample Baby Food Recipes

Butternut Squash Puree

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Carefully cut a butternut squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and discard. Peel the tough skin with a vegetable peeler or paring knife.
  3. Cut the squash into cubes, and spread on your prepared baking sheet.
  4. Roast until soft and tender, about 25 to 30 minutes, tossing halfway through the cooking time.
  5. In a food processor or blender, add as much of the roasted squash as you would like, and puree until it’s absolutely smooth. You may need to use a little water to thin out the puree. Leave it a little chunky if you’ve started introducing different textures to your baby. If you’re happy to leave some chunky bits, you can even mash the butternut squash with a fork or potato masher. Any remaining roasted squash can be enjoyed by the entire family for dinner.

Green Bean Puree

  1. Set up a saucepan with a steaming insert, filled with just enough water to reach the insert. Bring the pot of water to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, trim the ends of the green beans and destring them. Then cut them into 1-1/2 inch lengths.
  3. Add the beans to the pot of boiling water, and cover with a tight-fitting lid.
  4. Steam the beans until tender, about 8 to 12 minutes.
  5. Transfer the green beans to the bowl of a food processor or blender, and puree until smooth. Thin with water if necessary. Leave it slightly chunky if you’ve started introducing textured food to your baby.
Carrot puree

Carrot Puree

  1. Set up a saucepan with a steaming insert, filled with just enough water to reach the insert. Bring the pot of water to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, peel the carrots with a vegetable peeler or paring knife, and cut them into coins.
  3. Add the carrots to the pot of boiling water, and cover with a tight-fitting lid.
  4. Steam the carrots until tender, about 8 to 12 minutes. Steam for a few minutes longer if you plan to mash the carrots with a fork or potato masher.
  5. Transfer the carrots to the bowl of a food processor or blender, and puree until smooth. Thin with water if necessary. Leave it slightly chunky if your baby is ready for textured food.

Applesauce

  1. Peel, core, and cube a couple of apples, and add to a saucepan with just a little bit of water to cover the bottom of the pot.
  2. Bring the pot of apples to a boil and reduce to a simmer, cooking until soft and tender.
  3. Mash the apples with a potato masher until smooth. Alternatively, puree in a food processor or blender.
Applesauce

Mashed Potatoes

  1. Peel a couple of white russet potatoes and cut them into cubes.
  2. Add the potatoes to a saucepan and cover with water.
  3. Bring the pot of potatoes to a boil, reduce the heat slightly, and continue to cook until tender.
  4. Drain the potatoes over a colander placed in the sink.
  5. Return the potatoes to the saucepan and mash with a potato masher until soft and fluffy. Leave it a little chunky if your baby is ready to try a textured food. Keep in mind: Do not puree the potatoes in a food processor or blender as the potatoes will take on a gluey texture.

More Baby Food Recipe Ideas

Here are some other baby food recipe ideas to try at home:

  • Banana, raw, mashed or diced
  • Avocado, raw, mashed or diced
  • Plums, gently cooked and mashed
  • Peaches, gently cooked and mashed
  • Pears, gently cooked and mashed
  • Apricots, gently cooked and mashed
  • Sweet potatoes, baked or boiled and mashed or diced
  • Peas, cooked and mashed or pureed
  • Chicken that’s been well cooked, shredded or pureed
  • Meat that’s been well cooked, shredded or pureed
  • Fish with all the tiny bones removed, shredded or pureed
  • Lentils with the skins removed, cooked and pureed. (If you use canned lentils, make sure they’re low in sodium.) To remove the skins, try passing the cooked or canned lentils through a sieve; the skins will stay behind in the sieve.
  • Beans with the skins removed, cooked and pureed. (If you use canned beans, make sure they’re low in sodium.) To remove the skins, try passing the cooked or canned beans through a sieve; the skins will stay behind in the sieve.

Once you know your baby is not allergic to certain foods, you can start mixing them to come up with unique flavor combinations. Here are some to try:

  • Avocado and banana, mashed
  • Apples and pears, cooked and pureed
  • Chicken and sweet potatoes, cooked and pureed

You might also like to try combining store-bought foods with some homemade purees:

  • Plain, whole-fat, or whole-milk Greek yogurt mixed with some pureed plums or peaches
  • Infant cereals, mixed with water or breast milk and combined with applesauce or even a sweet vegetable like mashed sweet potatoes or pureed butternut squash.

As your baby progresses to self-feeding and finger foods, consider adding the following store-bought foods:

  • Pasteurized cheese, cubed, with unseeded whole-grain crackers
  • Unseeded whole-grain bread, cubed, with shredded, well-cooked chicken
  • Small pieces of whole-grain pasta mixed with pureed sweet potatoes or butternut squash.

Here’s a sample meal plan you could use for your 8- to 12-month-old baby:

A sample meal plan for babies

Guidelines for Making Baby Food at Home

Here are some things to keep in mind when making baby food at home:

  • To retain the most nutrients, steam, bake, or microwave fruits and vegetables instead of boiling them.
  • Don’t season the food with salt, sugar, or any spice.
  • Make sure any fruit and vegetables you use are ripe, and washed well before peeling.
  • Frozen vegetables are fine to use, but be wary of canned versions that contain too much added sodium.
  • Give one food type at a time so you can more easily identify potential allergies or intolerances.
  • In the beginning, mash or puree the cooked food with as much water as needed to get a smooth consistency. Lumpy foods can be a choking hazard for young babies. Eventually, as your baby gets older, you can start to give chunky or lumpy foods, even finely chopped or ground food.
  • Avoid feeding your baby pureed food or any solids through a bottle as this can also cause choking, and may also lead to obesity.
  • Don’t serve beets, spinach, green beans, squash, or carrots until your baby is older than 4 months as these vegetables contain high levels of nitrates, which can lead to anemia. Remember, however, that it’s generally not recommended to start your baby on solid foods before 6 months of age anyway.
  • After you've introduced pureed foods, you can offer small cubes of food that he can pick up with his fingers. Feeding himself with finger food helps him develop his fine motor skills and practice his chewing skills.
  • Experiment to find out what foods your baby likes or dislikes, and pay attention to any foods he may be allergic to. Giving your baby a wide variety of foods to try over time helps your little one develop healthy eating patterns early on.

Practicing Food Safety at Home

When making homemade baby food, it’s very important to practice food safety, especially since children under the age of 5 are at a higher risk of contracting foodborne illnesses.

Here are some food safety precautions to take when making baby food:

  • Wash your hands and utensils often.
  • Separate raw meats, poultry, fish, and eggs from fruits and vegetables, and other ready-to-eat foods, and use separate cutting boards for meats and non-meats to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Cook meat until it reaches an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit, fish until 145 degrees Fahrenheit, and chicken until 165 degrees Fahrenheit. You might like to use a cooking thermometer to check this.

Storage Guidelines for Your Homemade Baby Food

When storing homemade baby food, it’s important to follow these guidelines:

  • Refrigerate prepared food promptly (within 2 hours in normal weather, or 1 hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Store meat-, poultry-, fish-, and egg-based baby foods for no more than 24 hours in the refrigerator.
  • Store fruit- and vegetable-based baby foods for no more than 48 hours in the refrigerator.
  • For longer storage, transfer leftover baby food into ice cube trays for freezing. Once frozen solid, transfer the ice cubes to re-sealable plastic bags and put them back in the freezer. Don’t keep baby food in the freezer for longer than one month, though.
  • When it’s time to give the frozen food to your little one, thaw just the right number of portions in the refrigerator. Don’t thaw the frozen baby foods at room temperature or in a tub of hot water.
  • Reheat refrigerated or defrosted baby foods to a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

For more information on food safety, storing homemade baby food, reheating homemade baby food, and other safe food-handling practices, check out foodsafety.gov or consult your baby’s pediatrician.

Foods to Avoid

Avoid these foods, as they can present a choking hazard until your child learns to chew confidently every time:

  • Candy, including jelly beans, caramels, gum drops, and gummies
  • Chewing gum
  • Marshmallows
  • Chunks of meat, cheese, or hard raw fruit or vegetables
  • Hot dogs, sausages, jerky, and meat sticks
  • Whole or chopped seeds, nuts, and nut butters
  • Corn kernels
  • Whole grapes, cherries, berries, and grape or cherry tomatoes
  • Melon balls
  • Whole pieces of canned fruit
  • Dry fruit like raisins
  • Cookies or granola bars
  • Snack foods such as chips or pretzels
  • Seeded breads and crackers
  • Popcorn
  • Whole kernels of cooked grains such as rice, barley, and wheat.

There are certain foods that you should avoid feeding your baby because they can carry harmful bacteria. These include:

  • Honey and corn syrup
  • Home-canned food
  • Dairy products made from unpasteurized milk
  • Outdated, unlabeled, dented, rusting, bulging, or leaking cans of food.

You should also avoid giving your baby cow’s milk until he turns 12 months old. Cow’s milk can put a young baby at risk of intestinal bleeding. It has too much protein and minerals for your baby’s kidneys to handle, and it doesn't have the nutrients your baby needs.

Food Allergies or Intolerances

When starting your baby on solid foods, there’s a chance she may be allergic or intolerant to a certain food. It’s recommended that you feed your baby one food at a time so that you can track her reactions.

If your baby has a reaction to a certain food, hold off on feeding her that specific food until you can talk to her healthcare provider. By giving her one food at a time to try, you may have an easier time determining what she may have had an allergic reaction to.

Possible allergic reactions can include:

  • Rash
  • Bloating and/or gassiness
  • Runny nose
  • Sores on her bottom
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting.

Common food allergies include:

  • Eggs
  • Soy
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Citrus fruits
  • Kiwi
  • Strawberries
  • Peanuts and peanut butter
  • Tree nuts
  • Wheat
  • Cow’s milk.

Call 911 right away if your baby

  • gets hives
  • has difficulty breathing
  • has a swollen tongue or throat
  • is turning blue
  • is unconscious.

FAQS at a Glance

  • Q : What baby food can you puree?
  • Q : What is the best food for your baby to start with?
  • Q : What solid foods can you give your 6-month-old?
  • Q : Can babies eat bananas at 4 months?

Feeding your baby homemade baby food, whether it’s exclusively or in addition to store-bought varieties, can be a time of discovery for both you and your little one. It will introduce him to the foods and flavors of your family, and help him develop healthy eating practices for the future. It’s an important milestone in your baby’s development, one that could even lead to him growing into being quite the foodie!

With all the baby foods you’ll be trying out with your little one, you’ll need to stock up on plenty of diapers and wipes. The wipes could even be useful in helping clean your baby after some messy meals. Get rewarded with points every time you scan these products in the Pampers Club app. Then redeem the points for coupons, baby gear, gift cards, and more.

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