Hi Everyone! Today, I want to share a little bit about my journey of feeding a bottomless pit, aka, my soon to be 9 month old daughter. I did a lot of research when it was time for her to start solids. I went back and forth between baby led weening and the puree method. To be honest, I like the concept of baby led weening, BUT and this is a big BUT, when I tried to implement it, after one try I knew it wasn’t for me! She coughed, she gagged, and it STRESSED ME OUT! So it wasn’t for me. I am not here to debate the subject and if it works for you, then go for it. It just did not work for me. Homemade baby food seemed like a better option to me. That is the route we went; baby purees.
My tiny human started her adventures in the eating world at the ripe old age of 6 months. I started her off with cereal, fruits and veggies. I want control of what goes into her little body ( I am admittedly a type A personality/ total control freak) so making her food is the obvious choice for me. Initially, I thought it would be a daunting task, but after some research homemade baby food is pretty easy!
The first step is to decide on a few fruits and veggies you want to make. I purchased this great book that showed me the basics of making baby food.
A quick side note: baby should not have spinach, kale or other leafy greens due to the high amount of nitrates. These items, as well as honey are not be given to a baby prior to turning one year old. Other than that the world is your oyster for what to feed your baby. I started the little miss with bananas, sweet peas, sweet potatoes, avocado, peaches, and mangoes.
The first step of making homemade baby food is to cook your food (if needed). For veggies, like peas, I just steam them. Sweet potatoes, I usually bake in the oven. Based on my research, the preferred methods of cooking food for baby prior to pureeing, are either baking or steaming. Other methods, for example boiling, result in some nutrient loss and therefore I do not recommend. Thus, for veggies needing precooked I always bake or steam.
Fruits tend to be a little easier to prepare, as most don’t require cooking. Bananas, mangoes, and avocados are super easy, just remove the peel. Stone fruits just need the pit removed, and berries are probably the easiest of all – only needing to be washed.
Side note #2: Make sure your produce selection is fresh and flavorful. I always sample the item to make sure it is at its peak flavor. If fruits and veggies are out of season a great option is to use frozen. The freezing process maintains all the nutrients and there are no added chemicals or preservatives. I tend to stay away from canned fruits and veggies due to the amount of salt in these items and potential chemical leaching from the packaging.
Once your prepare the food, cut it into large chunks and place it into a food processor just like I did with the banana in the picture below. I personally use this Ninja and absolutely love it.Any food processor or blender will work fine, including the ones marketed specifically for making baby food. I choose to get a food processor because I know I will be able to use it in the future too!
Blend up your fruit or veggie in the food processor. Add a little water if needed to obtain the desired consistency. The fruits usually do not need any additional liquids. Most veggies will need a small amount. The consistency you are trying to obtain is similar to a bisque. This is what my banana puree looks like. It only took about 20 seconds to completely puree these three bananas in my Ninja!
The next step is to take your puree (once cooled) and place it into your freezer tray. I personally use the Mumi & Bumi freezer trays , which I received as a baby shower gift ; I so love them! Using that freezer tray, each cube is approximately 1 oz of food. Ice cube trays would work just fine too and I bet you already have them at home! The ice cube trays also make 1 oz sized portions. I add the puree to the trays by spooning it into the cavities. Place the cover on your freezer trays or wrap the ice cube trays with Saran wrap and place in the freezer for 24 hours.
The next day remove your puree cubes from their freezer containers and place into freezer storage bags. Use one bag for each type of puree you made and always make sure to label and date every bag.
My method of madness for making homemade baby food is to make two types of food each evening while I am whipping up dinner. I do this for a few reasons. First, I have two freezer trays so I like to use the maximum capacity I have available. Second, I have limited time, as the tiny human only has soooo much patience with me to watch me make food from her high chair once she is done eating. Especially if I am not letting her eat it right then. Ok, I’ll be honest, she taste tests everything for me. It cuts down on the screaming, so whatever works. Making two food types takes about 10 minutes, if that. I usually do this every night for about a week and then I have 1.5 to 2 months worth of food at the end of that week.
Making homemade baby food makes me feel confident about what is going into little miss. It also is very cost effective and enables her to try a lot more flavors than she would typically encounter. I love that I get to feed her fresh seasonal produce. As the seasons change she is getting to experience new tastes and textures.
A few final tips on homemade baby food:
I recommend to make individual flavors of purees. What I mean, is your cubes should consist of just one ingredient. Now, as baby gets older you can make complex mixtures by adding various individual cubes together. An example would be one cube of strawberry and one cube of banana for a strawberry banana combination. The options are virtually limitless!
As baby gets older and is more comfortable with texture (this will become obvious when baby starts to mash their food with their gums) don’t feel like you have to put everything through the food processor. This last week I just made little miss some butternut squash and sweet potatoes. I baked both in the oven and when they were done I just scooped them out from their peels and mashed slightly with a fork. I added a little bit of extra virgin olive oil to the squash and a bit of cinnamon to the sweet potatoes. My tiny human enjoys her food only if it is incredibly flavorful. The crazy kid loves spices! I took this mash, which was somewhat chunky and spooned it into the trays and froze as described above. You can see the texture of the squash in the image below.
Meat can also be pureed and frozen if you choose. I personally did not freeze meat. My pediatrician advised me that my daughter could have very very very tiny bits of meat at 6 months. It was actually recommended, since breastfed babies can tend to become iron deficient at that age. She did not do well with the meat for the first month of solids (again with the gagging and coughing….oh it was horrible and SCARY), so I just gave her the baby cereal fortified with iron instead. Once she started the food mashing stage (about 7 months), I reintroduced meat. Man, she is a carnivore! She cannot get enough meat and she can’t get it fast enough. I swear I almost lost a finger feeding her tonight. I usually just share a little of whatever meat I am having for dinner with her now.
Remember, feeding baby is an individual journey and you need to find what is right for you and what works best for your family. A combination of multiple approaches is perfectly fine. This is the approach that has worked best for our family. Currently, little miss will be turning 9 months in a few days. She started on purees and I slowly incorporated texture and finger foods. Now, the little food monster eats pretty much anything (within reason)! We had no issues with her learning how to manipulate food in her mouth or chew properly.
My tiny human gives this tutorial on homemade baby food her seal of approval (and she has a really high standard, ya know!) I hope you find this information helpful!