How to make your own baby food – homemade tastes best!

Homemade baby food

When I was pregnant with my first child, a friend of mine mentioned that she had made most of the baby food for her own children. I was working full-time and she was too, but I thought she was nuts to even suggest that I would spend hours in my kitchen making baby food I could so easily buy at the grocery store!

Then I started browsing the offerings at my local supermarket, and that made me think. First stage baby food offerings encompassed bananas, apples, pears, prunes, carrots, etc. The second stage foods included more vegetables, such as peas, green beans, sweet potatoes (where the heck is broccoli by the way?). Then I closely looked at the price tag and did some math. For Gerber baby food, I could get 2 packs of 2.5oz each for $1. Organic food jumped to 70 cents for one jar of 2.5oz. That’s $3.20 and $4.50 a pound respectively! Ouch, I thought, trying to calculate how many jars of food my baby would go through in his first year. I can see now why people say having a baby is expensive!

Before I gave birth, I had also decided I would exclusively breastfeed my baby, so I saw the possibility of making my own baby food as a natural extension of the gesture of nourishing my child with my own resources and not resort to a food manufacturer to do so.

Finally, there’s the environmental aspect of premade baby food. Can you imagine how many glass jars and plastic containers you could go through by the time your baby is ready for table food? My personal goal didn’t intend to take the baby food manufacturers and the makers of glass and plastic out of business, but gee, I had to consider the alternative… making my own baby food.

Well, guess what, I did it and you can too! You actually don’t need that many utensils, and if you follow my advice, it’s super easy to do and won’t take that much of your time. Trust me, I’ve got a full-time job and I continued making my own baby food for my second baby, even when his brother kept me ridiculously busy and often out of the kitchen.

Here’s what you need to do this right:

1) Make full use of naptime:

Use naptime to do all of the food prep, cooking and freezing. Shop in the morning with your baby, and make use the outing to show him all of the nice fruit and veggies you’re buying just for him. Always take advantage of a teaching lesson when you see one!

2) Start small:

Don’t buy five pounds of each fruit and veggies in one single weekend. You’ll be cooking for hours, and unless you have a separate freezer, it won’t all fit. Buy one or two pounds of each, and maybe two or three kinds of produce at once.

3) Find some good fruit and vegetables:

Go to your local produce market and buy regular or organic. I purposely bought as much organic produce as I could, because even at $2/pound, it was cheaper than the $4.50/pound for organic jars. Don’t hesitate to also look in the frozen department. Vegetables are frozen fresh and it’s a great way to locate good veggies at all times of year (e.g. green beans, peas, cauliflower, etc).

4) Make use of the kitchen utensils you already have:

– A large cooking pot and/or a steamer and/or a microwave

– A food processor or a blender (don’t buy a special baby food blender, what you already have in your kitchen will work just fine!)

– Ice cube trays (regular trays work just fine, so don’t waste your money on fancy ones)

– Freezer bags and a freezer

Now, you’re ready to go and in less than an hour, you’ll have many, many baby feedings available:

1) Wash your hands! Wash all produce very carefully. Peal if necessary and cut in small pieces so it cooks quickly.

2) Cook the food in a pot, an electric steamer (or a steamer basket in a pot), or even in your microwave with some water at the bottom of the dish. I used my steamer a lot to preserve as many of the nutrients and vitamins as I could. Don’t season anything until your baby is a little older (8 or 9 months old). Then you can add vanilla and cinammon to fruit, and parsley, garlic, onion powder, olive oil, etc to vegetables. Just like us, babies love food that tastes good!

3) Cook thoroughly until soft. As your baby gets older, you don’t need to cook it as long. Keep the water in the pot or container and let things cool a little.

4) Use a blender or a food processor (you can buy a handheld blender for really cheap if you can’t afford a  Kitchenaid) and blend everything well. If it needs moisture, add water to it. As your baby gets older, blend less and leave more chunks. Eventually, you may be able to just mash everything with a fork.

5) Fill the ice cube trays with the blended food. Each cube equals about 1oz, so you know how much to feed your baby.

6) Store the ice cube trays in your freezer until frozen solid (overnight). Empty the cubes into small freezer bags and store back in the freezer as soon as possible. Don’t forget to label the bags with the food name, as well as the date!

7) To defrost, take the cubes you need out of the freezer the night before, or reheat in the microwave on low.

The great thing about making your own baby food, besides the financial and environmental aspect, is that it allows you to mix the various foods to create your own combinations (banana-apple, apple-pear, pear-peach, sweet potato-green beans, squash-broccoli, etc). This is very convenient when you want to introduce a new food. Use a food your baby is familiar with as a base (e.g. sweet potato, and mix the new food with it (e.g. broccoli).

I’m sure you’ll find plenty of baby food recipes on the web and you may feel overwhelmed with all of the options. My advice to you is, KEEP IT SIMPLE! Babies like to taste a lot of things, but not at all once, so enjoy the learning curve with them and take plenty of pictures and videos as they say hmmm, or they make funny faces and spit it all out!

You can download a printable chart of baby foods you can introduce to your baby and at what age on the Wholesomebabyfood website.

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17 responses to “How to make your own baby food – homemade tastes best!

  1. Another plus to making your own baby food is seasoning. Have you ever tasted jars of baby food? BLAND!! People are amazed at the things our 13 month old will eat, black bean soup for example, I always say it is because he started out eating fresh flavorful foods from the get go!

    • Haha, I so agree with you! I put a lot of seasoning in my kids’ foods when they got to about 9 or 10 months old, garlic, onions, curry, cinammon, etc, and they enjoyed it. I always encourage them to smell all kinds of herbs and spices to develop their sense of smell. They do eat a large variety of foods and I’ve never had any issues feeding them broccoli!
      Thanks for your comments and come back soon!

  2. My wife and I made a rule – if we didn’t want to eat it, we wouldn’t feed it to our daughter. Have you tried some of the combinations like Thanksgiving dinner, and meatloaf? *barf* So we typically fed her rice cereal and jars of veggies and fruits.

    With #2 on the way, we’re planning on making our own so thanks for all the helpful tips! :-)

    • I think the horrendous smell (read gag inducing smell) of some of the baby foods is the main reason why I made my babies their food. Food should never smell that bad, or taste that bland, for anyone.

  3. Thank you so much for the info! I definitely want to make my baby’s food. Especially now since they seem to be putting soy in EVERYTHING these days, it’s a comfort to know that I’ll be completely aware of what’s going in my baby’s mouth!

  4. How long does Homemade baby food last in the freezer?

    • Excellent question! A good rule of thumb is up to 3 months in a regular top or bottom freezer, and 6 months up to a year in a deep freezer. You want to be careful not to freeze too much pureed food at once since your baby will grow quickly and be ready for foods with more texture. You don’t want to end up feeding what would be a “first stage food” to a one-year old just because you still have plenty left in your freezer! I’m sure you’ll notice that if you freeze one or two pounds of a variety of produce at once, you’ll usually end up with about a month supply. Happy cooking!

  5. Thank you for posting your article on the Yahoo! Article of “What Not to Feed Your Baby”. I am 11 weeks pregnant with my first child and have decided to go as natural as possible with the food choices I present to my baby. This means breast feeding and making the baby food myself. I greatly appreciate your tips and I am so glad that you mentioned you were working full time and were still able to make healthful homemade meals for your child. That really has empowered me to feel that I can do this and will have enough time. Again, thank you! Hope to see more articles from you in the future!

  6. What if we don’t want to freeze the baby food? Do you know how long it will stay in the refrigerator if I make a small batch and want to feed my baby with it over a couple of days?

    • I’ve done that too. As long as your fridge is cold enough, the food will be good for 3 or 4 days. If you’re not planning to use it within a few days, I’d recommend you freeze it, so all the nutrients stay in.

  7. “Printable chart of foods” link update:

    They moved it.

  8. Jenny Williams

    Great article! I am in the process of making a handout for work and found your blog.
    Just so you know, broccoli isn’t in the store because it and other high nitrate vegetables should wait until baby is at least 6 months old, even better when they are a year. Nitrates turn to nitrites which bind iron in the blood making it hard to carry oxygen which can result in breathing difficulty and could possibly make the skin turn blue. These high nitrate vegetables include beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, celery, collard greens, lettuce, spinach and turnips. When you do feed them limit to one to two tablespoons per feeding.

    • Thanks for stopping by! I read about nitrates at the time I was making my own baby food and it looks like they are in a lot of vegetables. I had read organic vegetables have less nitrates. Do you know if this is correct? I also read a baby would have to eat a lot of veggies to be affected by nitrate levels, and even asked my pediatrician about it. I would think eating a couple tablespoons of those vegetables is a normal serving and most babies will be fine. I know mine turned out OK!

  9. Hello!
    I am so glad to have come across your site. I’ve been making my baby’s food from scratch for two months now and I must say, it feels really good knowing what my seventh month old is being fed.. I just wonder, do you have any tips at all for making/storing food whilst traveling? We will be away for four days(driving) and I am trying to come up with ways to give my daughter homemade food rather than that awful jar baby food. I just wondered if there was anything on the market that can be used to preserve the food. Thank you so much again for starting this brilliant site!!

    • I’ve had the same problem before, traveling with a baby away from home (flying) and I had no choice but used store bought baby food. If you travel by car, you may be able to pack enough homemade baby food in a cooler with a lot of dry ice. Or cold packs you can put in the hotel’s fridge/freezer at night to refreeze. That’s the only thing I can think about.

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