Ultimate Guide – How to Make Your Own Baby Food. Everything you need to know to get started on making homemade baby purees – tips, tools, storage methods, recipe combinations, starter purees, intruding new foods and more! Great 4 month baby food – Stage 1 Baby Food.
How to make baby food
Making your own homemade baby food couldn’t be easier. I share everything you need to know to get started making homemade baby purees — from the best cooking tools to have on hand, safe storage, how to know when baby is ready for solids, how to introduce purees, the best first foods for baby, starter purees and more! Great for 4+ months (stage 1 baby food).
This is a very comprehensive guide to everything you need to know about making and serving your own homemade baby food, without stressing out about it.
That’s the key here – don’t stress out about this, it’s supposed to be fun!
Making and serving homemade baby food is easier then you think. Plus, when your baby (and you) want to devour your delicious homemade purees it’s a priceless moment that is worth the work.
Grab a cup of coffee (or glass of wine) and break this post down into smaller sections so you can digest it (pun intended) over time.
What you will come to realize, is that the once daunting task of making your own baby food purees will soon become second nature to you. You got this!
How to Make Baby Food
Reasons to Make Your Own Baby Food
Best Tools to Make Baby Food
How to Make Baby Food Purees
How to Blend Baby Food
How to Freeze, Store and Thaw Purees
5 Signs Baby is Ready for Solids
How to Introduce Purees
How to Introduce New Foods
10 Best First Foods For Baby
15 Stage One Baby Food Purees
The first reason I began making my own baby food purees was simple – I am a control freak. But it was only after I had gotten underway producing the purees that I actually began to thoroughly research. The more I read, the more I realized that not only was I making food that tasted far better than store-bought versions, I was also preparing food that was more nutrient-dense and less expensive. On top of that, I had complete control over what went into my purees – the ingredients and spices – as well as their texture. But allow me to go into more detail.
5 Reasons to Make Your Own Baby Food
It’s easy to buy food for your baby, and many brands now tout that their baby food purees, pouches, and snack bars are organic. Given that you do have a choice, why should you cook at home?
Nothing tastes better than a healthy, homemade meal, and that goes for baby purees as well.
- Tastes Better – food always tastes better using fresh wholesome ingredients.
- Tastes Real – if you want baby to experience what a real apple tastes like, then make a baby food puree using real apples. The industrial process of making store-bought baby food kills off most of the flavors, nutrients, and aromas of the produce going into them, leaving purees that taste bland and unnatural.
- Tastes Fresh – most commercial baby food purees are heated to extremely high temperatures so they can have upwards a three-year shelf life, which means the food from the store is most likely older than your baby.
Don’t get me wrong – store-bought baby food is great if you are in a pinch. But you can’t beat the taste of any homemade baby food.
The ability to control the thickness of your baby’s puree is a tool that will not only help you get through the picky-eating days, but also help transition your baby from purees to solid food.
- Some babies prefer thinner purees, while other babies like thicker smooth purees – when you make your own, you are in control of how thin or thick you make baby’s puree.
- Different textures are as new to your baby as the tastes themselves, so varying a puree’s texture will not only give her a new eating experience, it will also tantalize her taste buds.
There is no debating that homemade baby food is healthier for your baby than any brand of store-bought food, whether jarred or in pouches, but the biggest nutrition win I feel you get for making your own purees is that you can tailor them to your child’s needs at any particular moment.
- Is your baby feeling a little under the weather? Make a puree high in vitamin C.
- Low on iron? Add some beef, spinach, or beans.
- Maybe your baby is a little constipated. Making a puree with anything that starts with a “P”—pears, prunes, peas, peaches—will soon get your little one back on track.
#4 QUALITY CONTROL
Since you’re the one who buys the ingredients and handles, preps, and cooks the purees, you can rest assured that you know exactly what’s going into all of your baby’s food.
What you make is what you get! There are no fillers, thickeners, suspicious ingredients with names you can’t pronounce, shelf stabilizers, or unnecessary water.
#5 COST SAVINGS
This might come as a surprise to you, but making your own baby food with all organic ingredients is more than 50 percent cheaper than buying their store-bought counterpart!
Depending on how much your baby eats – this can save you some serious money.
In my 12 Budget-Friendly Homemade Baby Food Recipe Guide, I give you 3 amazing tips on how to save even more money!
Best Tools for Baby Food Making
It might surprise you, but the tools you need to make your own homemade baby food can usually already be found in your kitchen. Score!
- Blender or Food Processor
- Baking Sheet
- Veggie Peeler
- Freezer Tray
- Storage Containers for Fridge
- Stasher Bag
- Reusable Pouches
- Baby Food Maker
Head over here for all of my favorite product recommendations – Top Tools for Making Baby Purees!
baby feeding essentials
This list is a little more fun to shop for because believe it or not, I am sure you will want to hold on to and store a couple of these items in baby’s memento box.
How to Make Baby Food Purees
All of the baby food recipes on my blog and in my books are designed to enhance the natural taste of the fruits and veggies that you are using while keeping as many nutrients intact as possible. The goal is to make a puree that both tastes amazing and is as healthy as possible.
There are several ways you can cook baby food purees, but the main techniques I use are:
Keep in mind – there isn’t a right or wrong way to cook the produce for baby food.
If a recipe for broccoli calls for steaming but you want to roast it because you will already be roasting some broccoli for yourself for dinner, then go right ahead and roast the broccoli for baby’s puree. Play around and have some fun with it.
ADDING SPICES to baby purees
I pair each of my recipes with a spice that complements the flavors of the fruit or vegetable in the puree. I also try to give some alternatives at the bottom of each recipe in case you can’t find or forget to purchase the called for spice at the store.
- add the spice or herb I have listed in the recipe
- use one that you have on hand that you think will taste amazing in the puree
- or eliminate the spice altogether in the puree
I add spices to my purees from the very first bite. Yes, you heard me, from-the-very-first-bite!
- boost and complement any fruit or vegetable puree
- broadens baby’s emerging palate
- make purees taste amazing so baby falls in love with the purees from their very first spoonful
- decrease picky eating later in life
- have medicinal properties in them – they can help with digestive issues, boost brain functions, repair muscles and so on.
If adding in spices to your purees at the very beginning seems a little much for your baby’s digestive tract or taste, then by all means, skip it. You can always add the spices into your next batch of homemade baby puree.
How To Blend Baby Food
Pureeing homemade baby food is a very straight forward event, but it can take some practicing to get the smoothest puree for baby.
How to blend
- Place cooked produce into a blender or food processor.
- Turn on and puree until smooth.
- Add liquid (water, breastmilk, formula, stock) in small increments if needed to help smooth out the puree.
Tips for getting the Smoothest Baby Purees
- Give it Time: give your blender or food processor some time to work its magic. It takes 1-2 minutes of blending for each puree to get the smoothest puree. But it can take longer if you have an older model of blender or you are using a food processor.
- Add Liquids: you may have to add in extra liquids (water, breast milk, formula or stock) into the blender or food processor in order to get the blender really going. Hard root vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, etc) often take at least 1-2 cups of liquids because they themselves do not have high water content. I recommend adding liquid into the blender in 1/4 cup increments or smaller, this way you don’t add in too much liquid and get a runny puree.
- Cyclone Effect: you will know you have the right amount of liquid and are at the right speed when you get the cyclone effect and all of the ingredients are completely circling the blending without any interference.
- Scrape Down Sides: while blending make sure to scrape the sides with a spatula to get all the produce and spices incorporated into the puree.
- Blender vs. Food Processor: a high-speed blender will give you the smoothest puree. A food processor will also work but the end result is a slightly thicker puree. The upside of the food processor is that you don’t have to add as much liquid to the puree.
Just Starting: roasted sweet potato and 1/2 cup of water.
30 Seconds: scraped down the sides and added in 1/4 cup more of water.
60 Seconds: scraped down the sides and added in 1/4 cup more of water.
90 Seconds: add in 2 tablespoons of water, was perfect. The puree was clearly running through the blender and the puree was getting super smooth.
Finished: a smooth puree for the win!
See video in this post to get the step-by-step look on how to blend baby food.
How to Freeze, Store & Thaw Baby Purees
Your freezer is about to become your new best friend, allowing you to keep several weeks’ worth of baby purees at the ready.
How to FREEZE Baby Food
Whenever you make a puree, put several ounces in the fridge for your little one to enjoy that week, then freeze the rest of the batch for baby to eat at a later date.
- make puree
- let it cool slightly
- transfer the puree to freezer trays or freezer jars
- cover the freezer trays with lid or plastic wrap
- label with date and name of puree
- place tray in the freezer
- let freeze for at least 5 hours
- take freezer tray out of the freezer
- crack the purees out of the trays
- place frozen purees into zip-lock baggies or stasher bags
Baby Food Storage
Most purees can be stored for three to four days in an airtight container in the fridge. If freezing them, my rule of thumb is that most produce-based purees can last up to three months in the freezer (avocados and bananas are an exception), while all purees containing meat, beans, or grains will last two months in the freezer.
How to Thaw Baby Food
Thawing may seem like a no-brainer, but it never hurts to know your options. There are three different ways to thaw purees:
- Take the frozen puree cubes that you want to serve out of your freezer.
- Place them in a glass microwave-safe container.
- Microwave in 20-second increments, stirring every time.
- The puree is ready when it is just warm to your touch.
- Grab two clean spoons, one for you and one for your baby, and test your puree before serving.
This one takes the longest time, but it is a great alternative to using a microwave.
- Take the frozen puree cubes you want to serve out of your freezer.
- Place the cubes in an air-tight glass container.
- Place the container in the fridge and let thaw for 12 to 16 hours.
- Do not leave the puree in the container to thaw on the counter or anywhere out of the fridge, as bacteria will start to grow at a rapid rate – which is definitely not good.
- The puree will be cold but thawed, so if your baby likes her puree warmed, you’ll have to finish the job using the microwave or stovetop method.
- In a small saucepan, add the frozen puree cubes you want to serve to baby.
- Over medium-low heat, gently cook the puree until warm, stirring occasionally.
Thawing Tip: Some infants like their puree cold, warm, or really warm, and some will devour it no matter the temperature. You will get to know your baby’s personal preferences as the two of you bond over food.
5 Signs baby is ready for solids
There is no particular age when your baby will be ready to start eating purees. It just doesn’t happen like that. Age takes a backseat to the signs your baby gives you herself as to her developmental readiness. While pediatricians generally recommend introducing solid food around six months of age, it’s more important that before starting your child on solids you can answer “yes” to most of the following questions:
- Can your baby sit up on her own?
- Is your baby able to hold her head and neck in an upright position?
- Does your baby reach for, or eye, your food while you are eating?
- Is she hungry more often and not satisfied after finishing her usual amount of breast milk or formula?
- Has her weight doubled since birth?
If those questions generate a mix of yes and no answers, it’s no big deal. Just wait a bit. Babies live the lives we adults often wish we could—they do what they want, when they want, no matter what anyone else wants or expects. Your baby might not be ready, even if all of her baby buddies have been eating for months. Your baby might give you all the right indications, but she could absolutely reject her first puree (without a care for all of the love and excitement you put into it, I might add).
Start when the signs are there, and continue to keep trying. At some point, your little one will be ready, and she will open her mouth to her very first bite of food. Go here for my 5 Tips for Feeding Baby
How to Introduce Purees
High chair? Check. Bib? Check. Fully charged cell phone? Check.
With this holy trinity of baby-feeding accoutrement, you’re ready for that first feed.
The faces, oh, the faces your baby is about to make. Out of all the firsts, feeding was the most fun – and the messiest. So grab a few wipes, double-check that your phone has enough storage for dozens of photos and videos, and let’s get started.
Before you begin, make sure your baby has a little bit of breast milk or formula in her belly: about half of what you’d normally give in a regular feeding.
Not too full. Not too hungry. Just right.
This is not going to be a clean and simple process. Your baby may eat food one day, refuse it the next, and paint her face with it the next. It’s all okay. Playing with her food is a good thing; it is simply a way for her to explore, learn, smell, and taste the world around her. So have those wipes close by, and remember:
- Start Slowly – two teaspoons, once a day, is enough food for babies the first couple of meals. Their bodies need time to adjust and digest this new food. If they are still acting hungry, give them some more breast milk or formula.
- Let the Baby Decide – your little one should determine the pace of how fast or slow she wants to eat.
- All Spoons on Deck – have more than one spoon ready. Your baby will surely snatch one out of your hands to play with, which is a-okay.
- Have Fun – smile at your baby throughout the experience, and try to relax. The more fun you have, the greater the likelihood your baby will enjoy it too (even if she barely eats or doesn’t eat at all).
- Build Up – after a couple of days, you can build up the quantity of food you offer one tablespoon at a time.
When you’re ready to start the feeding, select a puree you’ve already made, place just one or two teaspoons of it into its own bowl, and slightly warm this small amount. You can choose whether to gently spoon it into your baby’s mouth or hand the spoon over to her to attempt self-feeding. If your baby tries to grab the spoon from you and get it into her mouth by herself, whoa – you’ve got a success on your hands. If the experience is a bit milder, and she lets you spoon some puree into her mouth, enjoy it. This is a winning experience, too.
Some babies will simply not open their mouths. Some babies will take one bite, clamp their mouths, and turn away. If (and when) any of this happens, don’t force the spoon into their mouth, and don’t stress out. Here are a couple of things to try:
- Put a bit of the puree on the end of your finger and see if your baby will suck it off. This is an unintimidating way to begin, especially as spoons can be scary for little ones.
- Pour a tablespoon of puree onto the high chair tray, and allow your baby to play with it, if she wants. This is a less managed approach to letting the baby explore new food. As babies love to put everything in their mouths, odds are at least some will get in (or near) it.
- If your baby has no interest in these options, end the feeding. Dispose of the one or two teaspoons you warmed and put the remaining, unheated puree in the refrigerator to try again tomorrow.
Remember that before their first birthday, babies receive their main source of calories, vitamins, fat, and protein from your breast milk or formula. At this point, any purees you give them are just for fun, mainly to get them used to eating and exploring real food.
How to Introduce New Foods to Baby
Your baby has tried her first puree and is loving it – or at least she’s letting you spoon it into her mouth and giving you a perplexed look. Either way, this is a great start. After three or four days of feeding her the first puree, it is time to work in some new ones.
While there are several different methods regarding which foods to introduce first, my approach is as follows:
Start your baby on a purees made with lots of fruits and vegetables.
Color, color, color!
Slowly mix those purees with fat and protein from naturally raised, hormone-and antibiotic-free animals or fish.
Sprinkle in some ancient grains (quinoa, millet, or barley) straight from the source, not processed from a box.
Above all us, don’t let this feeding process get too complicated. Feed baby healthy and flavorful food and you will see her bond, over time, to nutrient dense foods that are naturally good for her.
For even more information and recipes, check out my best-selling cookbook Little Foodie: Recipes for Babies & Toddlers with Taste!
10 Best First Foods For Baby
These 10 wholesome foods are full of essential nutrients for a growing baby, are delicious in their own right, and they are super easy to make into a simple baby food puree.
Plus, they are relativity easy to find in any grocery store.
TIP: Get the List of the Best First Foods for Baby HERE!
15 Stage One Baby Food Purees
These Stage One Homemade Baby Food Recipes are made for babies that want to try the most delicious food from the very first bite.
No boring mashed bananas or simple apple puree here. No way!
We are adding in cinnamon, rosemary, curry or mint to quickly roasted or steamed fruits and vegetables that enhance their natural flavors. Simple purees that I am pretty sure you will even love.
Don’t miss my favorite 15 Stage One Purees!
BABY FOOD RECIPES YOUR BABY WILL LOVE
- 7 Organic Starter Baby Purees for Under $20
- 15 Stage One Baby Purees (that actually taste delicious)
- 10 Super Starter Purees for Baby (Tips, Recipes and Starters Guide on How to Feed Baby)
- 5 Minute Mango Baby Food Puree
- Roasted Butternut Squash + Thyme Baby Food Puree
How to Make Homemade Baby Food Purees
Make Baby Food
- Make baby food puree per the recipe. This could be by steaming, roasting or sauteing.
- Pour puree into freezer tray or small baby food jars.
- Lable the freezer tray or baby food jars with the recipe name and date.
- Place the tray or jars in the freezer and freeze for at least 5 hours.
- Pop the frozen baby food cubes out and place them into a zip-lock baggie or stasher bag.
Thaw Baby Food
- Microwave – Take the frozen puree cubes that you want to serve out of your freezer. Place them in a glass microwave-safe container. Microwave in 20-second increments, stirring every time The puree is ready when it is just warm to your touch. Grab two clean spoons, one for you and one for your baby, and test your puree before serving.
- Fridge – Take the frozen puree cubes you want to serve out of your freezer. Place the cubes in an air-tight glass container. Place the container in the fridge and let thaw for 12 to 16 hours. Do not leave the puree in the container to thaw on the counter or anywhere out of the fridge, as bacteria will start to grow at a rapid rate – which is definitely not good. The puree will be cold but thawed, so if your baby likes her puree warmed, you’ll have to finish the job using the microwave or stovetop method.
- Stovetop – In a small saucepan, add the frozen puree cubes you want to serve to baby. Over medium-low heat, gently cook the puree until warm, stirring occasionally.
- Serve and enjoy!