Disclosure: This post is in no way to replace professional medical advice. Please follow the instructions of your pediatrician as to when to start your baby on solid foods and what foods to start with. The opinions expressed in this post are solely my own.
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Back when my husband and I were expecting our baby boy, I knew that I wanted to make my own baby food (a super chef-y thing to do, right?!). There are a lot of posts out there on how to make baby food at home but a lot of them have super fancy (and unnecessary) equipment and storage systems; I find that all unnecessary and want to show you my no-nonsense approach to feeding the toughest food critics you’ll ever face in your life.
What I loved about making my own baby food at home was knowing that my baby’s tastebuds were pure and unadulterated with all of the garbage that we, as adults, eat. They experience food how they naturally taste. No salt, no fancy seasoning mixes. Just pure, straight pureed food. It’s so fascinating. Now I will say this, I don’t think highly of myself because I made my baby’s food from scratch and I don’t look down at those who buy their babies food from the store. Here are my reasons for making the food myself:
- Why not?!
- It was cost effective
- Preservatives in “fresh foods” make me feel weird inside
That being said, after undertaking my baby food making, I can see why some parents don’t see the value in making their own food at home: the process can be a tad tedious. Between the cooking of the food, pureeing it, freezing it, and then storing it, it took me about a week to make all of the food my baby was going to eat one shopping trip. But since babies don’t eat a ton of food, the food I made lasted a long time. In fact, he’s mostly eating “table foods” now, and we have pureed food left in the freezer that I still need to cycle out.
What do you really need to make your own baby food at home?
Here is my biggest gripe about babies and the baby product industry: unnecessary products that cost waaaaaaaay too much. They have baby bullets, baby food storing systems, special storage baggies etc. These people really take advantage of moms in general and it drives me up the wall. Let me list for you what equipment I used to make the food and store it.
- A food processor or my Nutri Ninja. Anything that breaks down the food into a puree. If you don’t have the best blender and also don’t have the extra money to get a Nutri Bullet or a better blender, invest in a fine mesh strainer (super affordable), that way you can catch any chunks of food that your blender didn’t grind up.
- Silicone ice trays. These babies are money. You don’t have to do any greasing or anything; you just unmold the food once they’re completely frozen and you’re in business.
- Ziploc baggies. I used both the quart and sandwich sized baggies to store my food. I labeled what the food was and dated them so I knew how long they were good. Since these aren’t “freezer” bags, I’d give the food about 3-4 months in the freezer before they’re no good… but your baby will probably have moved on to “table” foods by then so don’t worry.
- Plastic totes. I separated my foods into veggies and fruits into two different small totes in the freezer, this was an easy way for me to do it. I’ll explain why you need to keep them separated, at first, later in the post.
- Squooshies. One “specialty” item that I highly recommend as it’s inexpensive and environment friendly, are these Squooshi pouches. These pouches are amazing life savers once your baby starts to hold foods on their own. I mix up the baby food with some cereal to keep it thick so that it doesn’t just ooze out of the top and baby can hold and squeeze the food into their mouth. They’re great for letting you be able to do other things while baby eats. I love them and highly recommend getting some!
As you can see, there was no need for any of this unnecessary “specialty” equipment. The things I used where already what I used every day and it got the job done. Super simple.
What to introduce first?
Some of you may be wondering, what do I start my baby on first? When you ask your pediatrician, they’ll advise you to start baby off on rice cereal, or oatmeal, mixed with breast milk or formula for two weeks. This helps baby’s digestive tract to get used to solids. If baby does well with solids, your pediatrician will then tell you to start on foods like sweet potatoes. You start with veggies first because they’re not as sweet as fruits, obviously. If you started baby off on apples or pears, they wouldn’t like veggies because they don’t taste as sweet as the fruits. I started him off on sweet potatoes and avocados; veggies that don’t taste very sweet (well sweet potatoes are sweetish) so that he wouldn’t reject them if I introduced them after fruits.
I found some really good charts that helped me to know when to introduce which food when to him. Certain foods need to be introduced when his digestive tract has matured a bit more to reduce the risk of allergies developing. If you have any questions of when to introduce what foods, consult with your pediatrician for your baby’s needs.
How I actually made my baby food!
Now on to my process of making the food. Since babies don’t eat a ton of food when first starting out, I would just add an extra apple or two to what I was already buying. This helped to save us money as each baby food pack is about $1 each. Once I had the food at home, I would begin peeling all of the food and cook the food by boiling (peels are hard for their tummies to break down in the beginning so don’t include them in the food when they’re just starting out).
For most foods, you’re good to boil them in water until they’re mushy. For foods like pumpkin or acorn squash, where they have ridges, I roasted them in the oven, without seasonings, until tender and blended until smooth with just a touch of water.
A note about blending food, I only put enough water in the blender with the food for it to make a puree. If you add too much water, it’s way too thin and the baby will have a hard time eating it. If you have made the food too runny, just add some rice cereal or oatmeal to thicken it up.
Once the food is all blended, I then spoon the puree into the silicone trays and freeze until solid. I then bagged the food in the Ziploc baggies, labeled and date them. When I was ready to use a serving of food, I would just take it out the serving and let thaw overnight. Viola.
I hope that you have found this post super informative for those who are gung-ho about wanting to make their own baby food at home and not know where to start as far as what is and is not needed. For those who are a bit on the fence, know that making baby food at home does take a bit of time and planning ahead. There is no shame in feeding your baby food from the store if there is just no room in your schedule to make it; I fed my baby store bought food to help rule out allergies and he’s still alive!
I hope you new parents enjoyed this post. If you have any ideas of what else I should blog about, send me an email and I will write it for you!
Happy eating to you and your little one!