Getting Started Feeding and Making Baby Food

Introducing a baby to solid foods can be a very exciting time for parents.  Seeing how a baby experiences and reacts to different foods is yet another way to get to know your baby.  When your pediatrician says that you are ready to start solid foods, usually between 4-6 months, you may have a lot of questions about how much food to give, what kids of food to give, and in what order food should be introduced. These are the most common types of questions I answer at well visits for 4-6 month olds.  Visit the American Academy of Pediatrics article on starting solids foods for a good introduction and overview. Of note, there have been studies that show that introducing a child to food before the age of 4 months can be associated with obesity in childhood.

Usually rice cereal is a commonly recommended as a first solid food, but whole grain cereal is a nice option and gets babies used to the more complex taste of whole grains.  Infant cereal is a nice starting food because it can be mixed to a variety of consistencies by adding water, breast milk or formula.  A thin puree of a fruit or vegetable is another good starting place. An infant new to solids may have a tendency to thrust food out of the mouth with the tongue when first introduced.  This is amusing to watch and is definitely a good photo opportunity!  Mixing cereal to a thin, porridge consistency allows some of it to flow more freely into the back of the mouth, and may prompt the baby to swallow.  In my practice I usually tell families to give infants an opportunity to practice once a day with infant cereal or puree until they seem to get the hang of it.  After a couple of weeks you may want to increase to twice a day. Keep in mind that at this early stage food is not offered as much to “fill” babies, but as an opportunity to taste and practice swallowing solids.

Regarding purees, you can start with stage 1 store bought baby foods, which have only one ingredient and are pureed to a very smooth consistency. Another great option is to make homemade baby foods. Homemade baby foods can be prepared without much time or expense and can introduce babies to a different flavor profile than store bought baby foods offer.

What are the benefits of homemade baby foods?

  • Economical- A large volume of food can be made for very little cost. Freezing small portions means there is less waste, too.
  • Easy and fast- Because babies eat so little, a lot of what you prepare can be frozen and popped out of the freezer as you need it. There are also little shortcuts you can learn to make baby foods with the same ingredients you use to make food for the rest of the family.
  • Controlled- You control exactly what goes in the food.  If you want certain varieties of or blends of fruits and vegetables, or if you want to prepare organic baby foods, you can decide for yourself.
  • Tastes more like real food! – This is a great reason.  Although store bought baby food is healthy, fast and easy, it often is much blander than what you can prepare on your own.  Introducing a wide flavor profile early may imprint those tastes so that babies are more used to those foods later on as toddlers and children.

Things you will need

  • Saucepan or pot for cooking
  • Steamer basket
  • Blender, food processor or baby food mill
  • Cookie sheet for roasting
  • Ice cube trays and freezer bags for freezing and storing food

Homemade baby food as easy as 1-2-3

1) COOK-There are plenty of ways to prepare baby foods. Steam cooking is the most common way.  This can be done with a steamer basket over a pot, in the microwave, or a rice cooker with a steamer basket. Another easy and fast way to prepare baby foods is by gently cooking in a saucepot in a small amount of water.  The water, which may capture some of the nutrients can then be used to thin the food to a puree consistency, as some foods may be hard to puree without a bit of added liquid. Roasting is another way of cooking foods like squash and apples. Roasting also brings out some of the natural sweetness in these foods. Make sure to save any juices that come off the food so that they can be added to the puree as needed.

 

2) BLEND-Once food is cooked until very tender, it will need to be pureed.  A good blender or food processor work fine for this.  I’m a huge fan of the mini food processors which are great for small batches of food and clean up quickly (they are also fairly cheap at 30-40 dollars).  I keep mine on the counter and use it for prepping all kind of other foods. See the Getting Started section of the website to see about my mini food processor. Baby food mills are another choice, but once your baby is out of the baby food stage they don’t have much use. I personally would rather push a button than crank a mill by hand!

 

3) STORE-You will also need a way to freeze and store all the food that you baby can’t eat right away.  An ice cube tray works well for freezing small portions.  Once frozen they can be stored in a freezer bag (in the coldest part of your freezer) and pulled out to thaw as needed.
See it’s not that hard!!

 

Of note, there are some new baby food making systems that have the steamer and puree device all in one.  I have no experience with these personally, but they sound great, especially if you plan on making a lot of baby food. If you have the other items mentioned above, then this may not be totally necessary.

 

For a more in-depth look at making babyfoods and TONS of recipes I recommend visiting the site wholesomesomebabyfood.com.  This is a VERY comprehensive site that covers feeding baby and may aspects of making homemade baby food.  It also has a very nice collection of baby food recipes.
See our baby food recipe section for some starter baby food recipes, teething biscuits and shortcuts to make baby food from grown-up meals (usually marked as “Babyfood Tip”with a baby icon).

5 Comments

  1. Thanks, I look forward to trying this with my twins. Maybe the 5 year-old can help me!

    Reply
  2. Excellent knowledge! I have been seeking for anything like that for quite a while now. Regards!

    Reply
    • Thank you for such kind words about the Wholesome Baby Food website! I am always honored when pediatricians and nutritionists note the site as a resource. Your site and ratings are great and will be sure to pass on your site as well!
      Happy pureeing,
      Maggie

      Reply
      • I found the Wholesome Baby Food site last month and use it exclusively as my reference. This is our first time making our own food and we are loving it; it seems so much more appealing than jarred food. We do use some jarred for convince at times and our little guys enjoys it too but there’s just something about a freezer full of bright and colorful homemade food cubes :)

        Reply

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