Making your own baby food doesn't require a lot of expensive equipment. At a minimum, all you need to get started is a clean pot to cook in and equipment to get the foods to the right consistency. You can puree the food with a fine mesh sieve, an inexpensive food mill (the average cost is $15.00), a food processor or blender. Family foods prepared with salt, spices, sugar, or fat are not suitable for infants. You will need to prepare baby food separately, or remove the baby's portion before salt, sugar, or other seasonings are added. Also, never feed honey in any form to infants younger than 1 year of age. Serious food poisoning (infant botulism) may result.
Here are some guidelines for preparing baby food:
- Before preparing food, always wash your hands and the food thoroughly, and wash your knives and cutting board with soap and water after you've cut meat, to prevent cross-contamination with meat juices.
- Some foods, such as bananas and other ripe fruits, require only a fork for mashing. A potato masher also works well to puree cooked apples, winter squash, potatoes, or carrots. Be sure to use a fine mesh sieve or strainer to remove lumps, pieces of skin, strings, or seeds before feeding to baby.
- Most foods can be pureed with a blender. Be sure to remove tough peels and seeds from vegetables and fruits before blending or they will be ground into the food.
- Raw or cooked foods can easily be prepared in a small, hand-operated baby food mill. Peels and seeds are strained out of the food, and its small size is perfect for taking to the table or restaurant.
- Food made from fresh fruits and vegetables is best. Frozen vegetables may contain salt, and canned foods often contain many different preservatives along with a high amount of sodium and sugar depending on the type of canned food. Most canned fruits are packed in heavy syrups and sugars that are not healthy for babies.
- Pureed foods spoil more quickly than other foods; so your baby food must be used immediately or frozen for future use. If you store food in the refrigerator, keep it in there only 2 to 3 days. If you don't use it by then, it should be discarded. Remember: refrigeration does not kill bacteria; it only slows down their growth.
- Large batches of pureed foods can easily be frozen in ready-to-use serving sizes. One such method is to pour pureed food into plastic ice-cube trays, cover with waxed or parchment paper, and freeze. Once they're frozen solid, remove the cubes and store them in plastic freezer bags in the freezer. You can also drop spoonfuls of pureed food on a cookie sheet, freeze, and then transfer to freezer bags. These frozen portions will keep about one month.
- Thaw the frozen cubes in the refrigerator, in a double boiler, or in the microwave (at low setting). Do not thaw at room temperature. Make sure to mix the food thoroughly before feeding to make sure there are no hot spots that could burn your baby.
1/4 c. rice powder
(short grain brown rice ground in a food processor)
Bring liquid to boil in saucepan. Add the rice powder while stirring constantly.
Simmer for 10 minutes, whisking constantly. Mix in formula, breast milk or fruit if desired.
Basic Vegetable Baby Food
(Makes 8 food cubes)
Do not add salt, sugar, or fat.
1 cup steamed, baked, or boiled fresh or frozen vegetables without salt (sweet potatoes, potatoes, green beans, peas, carrots, yellow squash)
4-8 Tablespoons cooking liquid, formula, or water
Press vegetable chunks through a sieve or baby food mill, thinning with cooking liquid or formula to eating consistency. Or, puree vegetables and liquid in blender until smooth. Serve or freeze.
Note: First make baby food from a single vegetable. Later you can combine vegetables, for instance potatoes and carrots or carrots and peas.
Just peel a banana, and mash thoroughly with a fork.
Peel, core, and cut apple into slices/chunks
Place slices or chunks into a pan with just enough water to slightly cover apple.
Boil/steam until tender; be sure to check on the water level and stir. Put through a food mill, blender, food processor, or mash thoroughly so the apple puree is free of lumps.
1. Scrub fruit clean, and either peel the peach, or cut an X into one side of the fruit's skin
2. Place in a pan with an inch of water (if you did not peel, place the fruit in the pan with the X side down)
3. Bring water to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until soft and tender
4. Peel the skin from fruit, and remove pits and/or seeds
5. Reserve any leftover water to use for thinning out the puree
6. Puree in a food mill, blender, or food processor.
7. Add the reserved water as necessary to achieve a smooth, thin puree.
Baked Peaches1. Halve the fruit, and place cut side down in a pan filled with 1 inch of water
2. Bake at 400°F until soft and tender and/or puckering of the skin appears.
3. Peel skin from fruit and remove pits and/or seeds then
4. Reserve any left over water to use for thinning out the fruits
5. Peel off skin then place into your choice of appliance for pureeing, and begin pureeing
6. Add the reserved water as necessary to achieve a smooth, thin puree.