We started making baby food for Jonas when he was six months old. We always planned on blogging about it, but somehow it’s more than a year later and there are no DIY Baby Food posts here on the Nerd Nest. A reader question reminded us that we should probably get on it.
Alissa is starting her 6 month old daughter on baby food soon, and she asked us what we did for Jonas. Just the motivation we needed!
Supplies. We kept our baby food making so super simple. The only new baby feeding supply we bought was the cookbook First Meals Revised: Fast, healthy, and fun foods to tempt infants and toddlers, which we purchased to get an idea of nutritional requirements for different stages. There are great recipes in there too, but we never used puree recipes because, let’s be real, you don’t need them. (We do love the older kid and family recipes, though.)
We used the supplies we had on hand: one of those cheap UFO-looking steamers (hee hee), a blender, a crock pot, ice cube trays, and regular kitchen supplies. No fancy steamer, no magic bullet, no extra money spent.
Choosing food. We bought some fruit and veggies just for Jonas, and we set aside some of whatever fruits and veggies we were eating for Jonas too (before preparing it; baby food doesn’t need seasoning). We tried to get a wide variety, make sure he was eating fruits and veggies, and kept the whole “eat the rainbow” thing in mind. We also gave him foods that we don’t like, like papaya, because we don’t want to pass our food biases on to our kids. We also tried to think outside of what is traditionally thought of as baby food. You can’t jar avocado, so most people wouldn’t think to feed it to their baby, but it’s actually a perfect first food.
Cooking Method. The method we used to cook the food depended on how hard it was. Relatively soft stuff like green beans and peas went into the seamer, which is placed over a pot of boiling water (boiling directly leaches nutrients out of the veggies). Hard stuff like apples and carrots were cooked over low heat in the crock pot with a tiny bit of water. We baked starchy things like sweet potatoes and squash in the oven. Really soft stuff like peaches and bananas can just be blended directly. After cooking, we’d throw the food into the blender, adding water or breast milk if necessary to get the right consistency for his age. I’m sure a hand mixer would work just as well if you don’t have a blender!
Storing. After blending, we waited for the puree to cool to room temperature. (You must wait for food to cool before refrigerating; not doing so raises the temperature of the entire refrigerator temporarily, risking spoling of all of the food in the fridge). We then put some of the freshly purred baby food into the fridge in labeled tupperware (labeled by what was inside and the date made with masking tape and a sharpie) and put the rest into ice cube trays in the freezer. One ice cube tray of puree = about one serving of baby food. Using the ice cubes took some planning ahead, as we’d have to microwave the ice cube, stir it, then wait for it to cool back down to room temperature before serving it (microwaving causes some spots in the food to get scalding hot).
What if (s)he doesn’t like it? Even just one piece of fruit or veg makes A LOT, but don’t throw everything out if it doesn’t work the first time. We just mixed the things he didn’t like much into other things after trying to reintroduce them a couple of times. Don’t be afraid to mix fruits and veggies together. Combos that seem weird to us are a-okay with teeny people.
When out and about. The ice cube bit didn’t work so well when we were out and about. Our favorite foods for Jonas to bring to restaurants were ripe avocado and bananas, because they could be mashed into baby food on scene with a fork. We’d also put the ice cube baby food or fresh baby food into a thermos with ice packs when out for the day.
*That’s my sister Taylor feeding Jonas up there.
We also used Munchkin Fresh Food Feeders, which allow you to put frozen fruit or veg into mesh. Jonas had an easy time holding onto the ring, and loved the feeling of the frozen fruit on his gums when he was teething or on a hot day. His favorite thing to put in there was cantaloupe. He have loved it if we put banana in there too, but it was too hard to clean the banana goo out of the mesh. *Warning, there’s going to be juicy fruit drool everywhere.
We didn’t do everything 100% homemade (though we were successful in never buying a jar of baby food for Jonas). He loved these puffs when he was learning to self feed (we always had some in our diaper bag) and we bought Ella’s Kitchen baby food pouches for the times we knew we’d be out for a long long time (like when we were visiting family or going to the zoo). We also bought a few canned items, like pumpkin, to mix in with other things.
By 8 months, Jonas was eating mostly solids and was almost completely off the purees. His favorites were soft food like banana and avocado. By then he’d had a wide range of food: peas, nectarines, peaches, bananas, papaya, yogurt, strawberries, kiwi, broccoli, sweet potatoes, mango, carrots, avocado, green beans, plums, apples, pumpkin, blueberries, etc. His teeth grew in really quickly, so he was only on the pureed for a few months! We had a hard time getting him to eat fruit other than bananas by this point, so we’d sneak fruit into our dinners or into his oatmeal. You can do the same with veggies, if you kid is more normal than ours (hah!). Reintroduce and, failing that, hide in other foods. Repeat.
By one year, he was pretty much eating what we were eating every night. He was also weaned at one. That above photo was taken on first birthday, when he received a weird feast of his favorite foods: mac and cheese and blueberry pancakes. He was in baby heaven!
I’m pretty sure we covered everything, but if you have any other questions on how we made DIY baby food, throw ‘em at us!