Here it is, the Ultimate Guide on How to Make Your Own Baby Food! Everything you need to know to get started on making homemade baby purees is right in this guide. Tips, tools, storage methods, recipe combinations, starter purees, introducing new foods — name it, and you’ll find it here! So, are you ready to prepare healthy and yummy Stage 1 Baby Food? They’re perfect for babies ages 4-6+ months!
Medically reviewed by Jamie Johnson, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)
What This Guide is All About
I’ll share everything you need to know to begin, starting from the best cooking tools to have on hand and safe storage. I will also share how to know when baby is ready for solids, how to introduce purees, the best first foods for baby, starter purees, and more! They’re all ideal for babies at least 4 months old (stage 1 baby food). You can also check out my best-selling cookbook for even more information and recipes!
In short, this comprehensive guide will teach you how to make and serve homemade baby food without stressing out about it.
That’s the key here — don’t stress out. It’s supposed to be fun, and it’s going to be! Hopefully, after going through this guide, you’ll realize that making homemade baby food is as easy as pie. Plus, seeing your baby wanting to devour your appetizing homemade purees is a priceless moment that is worth the work.
Here’s a tip: 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.
As you start making your own baby food purees, you’ll realize that this once daunting task can actually become second nature to you. So don’t panic; you’ve got this!
In this post, you will find:
- 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 research thoroughly. The more I read, the more I realized that I was 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 the texture and what went into my purees — the ingredients and spices. But allow me to go into more detail.
5 Reasons to Make Your Own Baby Food
Nowadays, it’s easy to buy food for your baby. 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 your 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, making purees taste bland and unnatural.
- Tastes Fresh – Most commercial baby food purees are heated to extremely high temperatures to have upwards of three-year shelf life. That means the food from the store is most likely older than your baby.
Don’t get me wrong — store-bought baby food is convenient 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 an advantage 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 ones. When you make your own, you are in control of how thin or thick your baby’s puree will be.
- Different textures are as new to your baby as the flavors themselves. So, varying a puree’s texture will not only give your baby a new eating experience but will also excite their taste buds.
Homemade baby food is undoubtedly 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 is that you can tailor them to your child’s needs anytime.
- 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 their adorable feet.
#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 your babies get! There are no fillers, thickeners, suspicious ingredients with names you can’t pronounce, shelf stabilizers, or unnecessary water. Just healthy, flavorful homemade baby food that you can also enjoy!
#5 COST SAVINGS
Lastly, this might come as a surprise, 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, homemade baby purees can save you some serious money.
Best Tools for Baby Food Making
Fortunately, most of the tools you need to make homemade baby food can 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
Now, this list is a little more fun to shop for. I am sure you will want to hold on to and store a couple of these in your baby’s memento box.
How to Make Baby Food Purees
All baby food recipes on my blog and in my cookbooks are designed to enhance the natural taste of the fruits and veggies while keeping as many nutrients intact as possible. In other words, the goal is to make a puree that’s both healthy and delectable.
There are several ways you can cook baby food purees, but the main techniques I use are:
Keep in mind that 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 ahead and roast the broccoli for your baby’s puree. Play around and have some fun with it!
ADDING SPICES to baby purees
I pair each recipe 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 if you can’t find or forgot to purchase the particular spice at the store.
- add the spice or herb I have listed in the recipe,
- use what you have on hand that you think will go great with the rest of the ingredients in the puree, or
- eliminate the spice in the puree.
As for me, 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
- broaden baby’s emerging palate
- add more flavor so your baby gets curious and 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 muscle tissues, and so on.
Do you think adding spices to your purees at the 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 to your next batch of homemade baby puree.
How To Blend Baby Food
Pureeing homemade baby food is a very straightforward event. However, it can take some practice to get the smoothest, creamiest puree for your baby.
How to blend
- First, place cooked produce into a blender or food processor.
- Next, turn it on and puree until smooth.
- Finally, add liquids (water, fresh breast milk, 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 may take longer if you have an older blender model or you are using a food processor.
- Add Liquids: You may have to add extra liquids like water, fresh breast milk, formula, or stock into the blender or food processor in order to get the blender really going. Hard root vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, etc., often take at least 1-2 cups of liquids because they do not have high water content. I recommend adding liquid into the blender in 1/4 cup increments or smaller so you don’t 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. This is when all 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 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 1/4 cup more of water.
60 Seconds: Scraped down the sides and added 1/4 cup more of water.
90 Seconds: Added 2 tablespoons of water, and it 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 the 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 your baby to eat at a later date. Please make sure you get it in the fridge within 2 hours of cooking to prevent bacteria growth.
- Make a puree.
- Let it cool slightly.
- Transfer the puree to freezer trays or freezer jars.
- Cover the freezer trays with a lid or plastic wrap.
- Label with date and name of puree.
- Place the tray in the freezer.
- Let it freeze for at least 5 hours.
- Take the tray out of the freezer.
- Crack the purees out of the trays.
- Place the 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. 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.
Tip: To prevent the microwave from unevenly heating the puree, which can leave it with cold and really hot spots and can burn your baby’s mouth, make sure you stir between each interval and taste test it before serving to your baby.
This one takes the longest time, but it is an excellent 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 it thaw for 12 to 16 hours. You can also transfer the puree from the freezer to the fridge the day before you want to serve it. That usually works well for me.
- 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 recommended.
- Note that 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 your 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 eat 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 as to their 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 their own?
- Can they hold their head and neck in an upright position?
- Does your baby reach for or eye your food while you are eating?
- Is your baby hungry more often and less satisfied after finishing their usual amount of breast milk or formula?
- Has their weight doubled since birth?
- Can your baby move food from a spoon to the back of their throat?
Remember: Always talk to your pediatrician before starting solids.
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 if I might add). But know that it’s okay.
Start when the signs are there, and continue to keep trying. At some point, your little one will be ready. And they will open their mouth to their 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 is 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 their 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 their face with it the next. It’s all okay. Playing with food is a good thing; it is simply a way for babies to explore, learn, smell, and taste the world around them. So have those wipes close by, and remember:
- Start Slowly – Two teaspoons once a day is enough food for babies for the first couple of meals. Their bodies need time to adjust and digest 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 how fast or slow they want 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 they barely eat or don’t eat at all).
- Build Up – After a couple of days, build up the quantity of food you offer one tablespoon at a time.
Are you 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 them to attempt self-feeding. If your baby tries to grab the spoon from you and gets it into their mouth by themselves, whoa — you’ve got success on your hands. If the experience is a bit milder, and they let you spoon some puree into their 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 at 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 they want. This is a less micromanaging 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. 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 puree you give them is 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 then give 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 on some new ones.
While there are several methods on which foods to introduce first, my approach is as follows:
Start your baby on a puree 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 else, don’t let this feeding process get too complicated. Feed your baby healthy and flavorful food, and over time, you will see them take a liking to nutrient-dense foods that are naturally good for them.
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 are hassle-free to transform 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. They’re simple purees that I am pretty sure even you will love.
Don’t miss my favorite 15 Stage One Purees!
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!