Looking for ways to save money and give baby the most nutritious first foods possible? Learn how to make your own baby food!
Once your little one reaches six months it’s time for their first taste of real food. But where do you start? From grains to veggies and fruits there’s no real rules as to what baby should have first.
My first move was to run out to the grocery store and stock up on baby cereal and jarred fruits and veggies, but after scanning the hefty price tags associated with organic baby foods, I started looking for ways to save money and serve my baby the most nutritious food I could find.
If you’re considering saving money and making your own baby food from scratch here’s everything you’ll need to know:
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Equipment needed to make your own baby food
To make your own baby food you’ll need a blender and steamer. Here are the best products for making your own purees:
From the makers of the Magic Bullet, comes the Baby Bullet! Formulated specifically for making baby food, the Baby Bullet also comes with accessories for storing baby food, a ton of recipe ideas, and a blade that’s designed to make barley, rice or oat baby cereal, as well.
Beaba babycook 4in1 pro baby food maker
The Beaba Babycook food maker is great for making purees as it steam cooks, blends, and even reheats! You can use this to prepare fruits, veggies, meats and fish and it only takes 15 minutes.
One of the biggest advantages of using a steamer to cook your little one’s food is the fact that steaming fruits and veggies actually preserves more nutrients than boiling, sauteing or microwaving. After your baby moves on from purees, you can continue to use the product to steam veggies/proteins or even as a food processor!
Did you know you could use an Instant Pot to make baby food? Steam fruits and veggies in less than five minutes in an Instant Pot. Place fruit/veggies in ramekins and use the steamer basket at the same time to cook multiple items at once.
Then, take out the food and mash to desired consistency. I like the idea of purchasing something that has multiple uses, so the Instant Pot is win in my book!
To save time, you’ll be making food ahead of time, so you’ll need to store the purees in the freezer. These freezer trays work well, are BPA free and you can easily pop out one portion when you need to.
These reusable food pouches are great for allowing your little one to feed themselves. They also work really well for on-to-go meals and hold up to 5 oz.
Can I use the blender or food processor I already have to make my own baby food?
I get it, one of the biggest advantages of making your own baby food is the cost savings, so I’m sure you’re wondering if it’s an absolute must to go out and buy a product specifically designed to make baby food.
A food processor is going to lend itself to the baby food making process better than a blender, and here’s why:
- Generally the food processor is designed for a wide variety of tasks; for example, slicing, dicing and pureeing carrots is no problem for the machine. On the flip side, pureeing carrots with a blender is not as easy.
- You’ll find a blender is better suited to work with softer foods. For example, I had no problem making sweet potato, pear and plum puree in my blender.
If you currently own one product, try making a few different purees with the machine before running out and buying something new. You may find you just have to work with the puree a bit more; perhaps you need to steam food until it’s a little softer or use a fork to mash the food to help your machine along.
If you don’t own a blender or food processor I would really recommend looking into an all in one product like the Beaba Babycook 4 in 1— it’s so easy to steam your veggies/fruits and you can puree everything using the same machine. Plus, after you’re done using it to make baby food you can pull it out when you need to steam some veggies for your toddler lunches/dinners.
Choose your fruits and veggies correctly
Avocado, pumpkin, plum, sweet potatoes, carrots, apples, bananas, green beans, butternut squash, green beans, pears and peas are all great first foods for baby.
Choose food that is in season for the freshest options, and if possible, only select organic produce. Here’s a great guide I always follow when selecting in season fruits and veggies at the grocery store.
If you live close to farmers’ markets that’s a great option for selecting food for baby, too. If an item you’d like to try isn’t in season, search for it in the frozen food aisle. Just make sure that the frozen foods you’re selecting don’t have any salt, syrups or added sugars.
How to make your own baby food
Baby’s first foods should be soft and very thin in consistency. At the beginning, you’ll want to only introduce one food at a time and serve only that particular food for 3 to 5 days. Doing so will allow you to pinpoint any food that might trigger an allergy. Later, after baby has been exposed to several foods, you can start making combination purees.
There’s no scientific evidence for what baby should eat first. Babies are born with a inclination towards sugar, and what you introduce when will not change this. (source)
For the purposes of this post, you’ll learn about making baby’ first grains, veggies, fruits and meats.
Keep in mind, when you first introduce solids, your baby will only be eating them about once a day and will only have stomach capacity to consume about one to two ounces at a time, working their way up to two to three meals daily by eight or nine months.
P.S. There’s a lot to learn about starting your little one on solids, so check out my complete guide on starting solids if you’re just getting started.
Shopping list to make your own baby food
An easy way to make baby food is to make it once for the whole month. The whole process only takes an afternoon, and after it’s done you can just defrost what baby’s eating each day. Just make sure you have plenty of room in your freezer before you get started!
For the purposes of this list, we’ll focus on foods babies eat during months 6-8.
- Large bag of brown rice
- 2 Avocados
- 2 Sweet potatoes (large)
- 5 Bananas
- 1 Butternut squash (large)/1 pack of pre-packaged butternut squash chunks
- 1 Pumpkin (between 3-5 lbs)
- 4 Plums
- 4-5 Carrots
- 3 Pears
- 4 Apples
- 1 LB green beans (frozen is fine)
- 1 LB peas (frozen is fine)
- 2 6 oz bags of organic dried prunes
- 3 Peaches
- ¼ cup brown rice powder
- 1 cup boiling water
Use a blender or food processor (I’ve found a high power blender works best for this) to grind brown rice into powder. For this recipe you only need ¼ a cup, but it’s a good idea to go ahead and grind more and store in an airtight container in your fridge for up to a month so you don’t have to pull out the blender each day.
Once liquid is boiling, slowly stir in rice powder until mixed and let simmer for about 10 minutes until a smooth consistency is reached. Allow to cool to a comfortable temp before serving. If your baby doesn’t take to rice cereal, you can also mix in breastmilk, formula or fruits after baby has been introduced to them.
- ¼ cup ground oats (old fashioned and not 1 minute or quick oats should be used)
- ¾ cup boiling water
Grind old fashioned oats with blender until a powder consistency is reached. Once water reaches a boil, slowly stir in oats and let simmer for about 10 minutes until smooth. Allow to cool to a comfortable temp before serving. If your baby doesn’t take to oatmeal cereal, you can also mix in breastmilk, formula or fruits after baby has been introduced to them.
Make quinoa according to directions on box. Next, place quinoa into blender and pulse until smooth. Add water until desired consistency is reached.
The avocado is a great first choice for babies, mainly because it’s super easy to make and loaded with nutrients! It is important to note that you should wash the skin of avocado before peeling.
Make sure the avocado is ripe, scoop out the insides and mash with a fork until a smooth consistency. Avocados will keep in the fridge for 3 to 4 days if stored in an airtight container. You can spritz some lemon juice on it to keep it from browning, too.
Bake sweet potatoes in oven for one hour at 400 degrees. You can also cut into chunks and place in steamer. Once sweet potato is soft, blend using a food processor or blender. Add water, breastmilk or formula for a thinner consistency.
Mash a ripe banana with a fork until a smooth consistency is reached. Add breastmilk or formula for a thinner consistency.
Cut squash in half (lengthwise) remove seeds, and roast in a 400 degree oven for at least 30 minutes until soft. Alternately, you can cut into cubes and place in a steamer until soft, or buy the pre-cubed butternut squash in the produce section at the grocery store.
Once squash is tender put into food processor or blender until smooth. You may mix water, breastmilk or formula to thin the consistency.
Choose a pumpkin no larger than 5 pounds, wash the outside and cut into 1 inch chunks, removing the seeds. Place pumpkin chunks into steamer and steam until soft. Puree steam pumpkin in blender to reach desired consistency. Add breastmilk, formula or water to make thinner.
Wash plums and cut into chunks. Place chunks into blender/food processor and pulse until pureed. Plums tend to be pretty runny and won’t need additional liquid to make thinner. You can pulse with rice or oat cereal to make thicker.
Wash and peel carrots, cut into chunks and place into steamer basket. Alternatively, you can roast carrots on 400 degrees until tender. Next, place carrot chunks into blender and pulse until smooth. You may add breastmilk, formula or water to thin the carrots.
Wash pears and cut into chunks. Place chunks into blender/food processor and pulse until pureed. Pears tend to be pretty runny and won’t need additional liquid to make thinner. You can pulse with rice or oat cereal to make thicker.
Choose apples that are sweeter in variety, like Fuji or Gala, and peel, core and chop into 1 inch chunks. Place apple chunks in steamer or roast apples in a 400 degree oven, face down on a baking sheet with about an inch of water. Next, pulse apple in blender until smooth.
Note: Depending on how long you steam/bake your apples you may be able to reach your desired consistency by just mashing with a fork, rather than blending.
Cut of ends of green beans, wash and place into steamer. If you are using frozen green beans, allow to thaw in refrigerator and then place in steamer. Next, place the beans in a blender and pulse until blended. You will likely have to mash with a fork after beans are blended to make sure all the skins of the green beans are blended well. Add breastmilk, water or formula to thin if desired.
Remove peas from pod, wash and place into steamer. You may also choose to use frozen peas. If you use frozen peas, place in refrigerator to thaw and then place into steamer. Next, blend peas until smooth. Add water, breastmilk or formula to reach consistency desired.
Use a bag of organic dried prunes, place in saucepan filled with an inch of warm water. Allow prunes to plum up. Alternatively, you can steam prunes, too. Once prunes have plumed up, place in blender and pulse until smooth. Add water to make consistency less sticky.
Note: When babies are first introduced to solid foods they do tend to have bouts of constipation. Prunes are a great way to get your baby’s bowels moving, so it’s a good idea to always have prunes on hand.
Wash and peel peaches. You may choose to steam or bake peaches in a 400 degree oven until they come out soft. Next, you’ll remove the skin and place in blender until smooth. You can add water to achieve a thinner consistency.
Making homemade meat purees for baby
Making your own meat purees for your baby might sound intimidating at first, but it’s really easy! Many parents wait to introduce meat to their baby until 7 or 8 months, so just be sure check with your pediatrician before you start.
The easiest way to cook meats is by baking them in the oven, and conveniently, cooking proteins this way also helps to retain the most nutrients, as well. Alternatively, if you decide to cook your meats in the crockpot, make sure to incorporate some of the juices into your purees, as most of the nutrients will be found there.
To make a beef or chicken puree, you’ll take 1 cup of cooked beef or chicken and slowly blend it together with water. Start with a small amount of water (¼ of cup is best) and add more water to make it a thinner consistency. Make sure the meat is cold and cut into 1 inch chunks before you blend.
White fish puree
Choose a small (6 oz or less) piece of white fish and steam until fully cooked. Place cool, cooked fish into blender and slowly add a ¼ cup of water and blend until desired consistency.
If baby has tried and accepted seasonings, consider adding basil, garlic and oregano to blended mixture.
You may also try mixing in veggies to your mixture, too. Carrots and yellow squash work well blended with white fish.
How to store homemade baby food
One of the best things about making your own baby food is the fact that it freezes and reheats really well, meaning you can make it all at once and just thaw when your baby needs to eat.
Storing homemade baby food in the freezer
Storing homemade baby food in the freezer works best for large batches, and I found placing purees into these freezer trays or these less expensive trays work well. Once the puree is frozen, you’ll want to pop out the baby food and place into a freezer bag.
Each individual cube equals roughly 1 ounce, which will be plenty of food for your baby when you’re just getting started. Be sure to label and date the bags, too.
Storing homemade baby food in the fridge
You can also choose to store baby food in the refrigerator if you aren’t making a large batch. Anything that isn’t consumed within 2 days will need to be tossed, though. To avoid contamination, you’ll want to transfer food to a clean bowl each time you feed baby, as saliva can cause bacteria to grow.
How to thaw and reheat frozen baby food
Once baby food is taken out of the freezer, you can store it in the fridge for up to three days (48 hours is really optimal, though), so only take out what your baby can consume in that amount of time to avoid waste. The easiest and safest way to thaw frozen baby food is simply to pop it into the refrigerator overnight.
You may also choose to place frozen cubes in water for faster results or thaw in microwave. I completely understand a time crunch, but I don’t recommend thawing in microwave as it really depletes the nutrients you have worked so hard to keep by making your own baby food.
Once thawed, you can heat gently in a saucepan or serve room temperature. In general babies tend to prefer room temp foods over warm and I found that especially true with my daughter, as well. If you do want to heat your baby’s food before serving, just make sure to do a taste test, as babies are extremely sensitive to temperatures. I’ve found that a lukewarm temperature is plenty warm for a baby.
Do not refreeze any thawed food.
Making your own baby food pouches
As your baby ages and begins to eat more meals during the day, you may be searching for a way to take your homemade goodness on the road. The Infantino squeeze station is the perfect baby gadget that allows you to make your own baby pouches at home!
Once you make your pouches, remember they will keep in the refrigerator for 48 hours. These pouches freeze really well, too, so why not make a big batch and freeze the rest?
As a bonus, not only is this piece of equipment super handy when you’re making baby food, I’ve also found it’s been a life-saver in getting my toddler to eat her veggies. Babies and toddlers alike love pouches, plus they work really well on-the-go or in daycare lunches!
Make sure you pick up a pack of these refill pouches, too.
Adding spices to your homemade baby food
If you’ve been breastfeeding your baby has already had a healthy dose of spices that you’ve ingested, as small traces of spices/seasonings will make their way into breastmilk.
After your baby has tried many solid foods with no problems, why not add some seasonings to your next batch of baby food to spice things up? I love the idea of adding some spice to baby food because it introduces baby to a wide variety of flavors and helps develop a more rounded palate early on.
Before you go crazy and start rummaging through your spice collection, know that the three-day waiting period still applies when you are introducing spices.
Here are a some combinations to get your creative juices flowing:
- Mixing cinnamon or nutmeg (or a combination of the two) with sweet potatoes, applesauce, pears, bananas or winter squash.
- Mixing basil or garlic (or a combination of the two) with carrots.
Related reading: Getting started with Baby-led weaning
10 tips to remember when making your own baby food
- Try to buy organic produce if you can afford it, or at the very least, try to avoid the dirty dozen.
- Take time to properly sanitize foods. Even if you are peeling an item, the outside of it still needs to be washed.
- Steaming veggies/fruits is best, but if you do want to boil foods, reserve the liquid (it’s chocked full of nutrients) in the bottom of the sauce pan to use as a thinning agent during the blending process.
- Wait three to five days when introducing new foods so any adverse reactions to specific foods can be easily pinpointed.
- Don’t be surprised if your baby doesn’t like baby food. It’s totally normal for babies to have a bad reaction when first introduced to solids. Keep trying and remember that sometimes it takes babies 10-15 tries before they’ll accept a new taste.
- At first, your baby may respond better to their first few tastes of solid food if breastmilk or formula is mixed with the solid food.
- Store baby food in the refrigerator for no more than 3 days (48 hours is optimal, though).
- For easy thawing of frozen baby food, store food in a container like this one, and thaw overnight in the fridge for 12 hours.
- Once food is thawed, it will need to be consumed within 48 hours.
- Once your baby has tried a few foods, you can begin making combinations with the foods he has tried!
Ready to feed your one year old? Try my 55 meal ideas for a one year old for meal inspiration!