Hi there. I bet if you’re reading this, you’re a happy mama with a cute baby you love… I can relate to that.
Luke Ebenezer (A.K.A. Lukearoni, Lukey, cutest-baby-in-the-whole-wide-world) is our 7th baby, and like I’ve done for all 6 babies before him, once he was ready to start eating solids, I started making the food he’d eat.
Here’s why I do it:
- I love knowing where his food is coming from. (When I’m pregnant, I know. When I’m nursing him, I know. So, why suddenly move him over to factory-processed food in jars and pouches? I like being intentional about what’s going into my developing baby.)
- I like saving money. This method costs about 1/20th of what buying baby food in the stores will cost you. And I like keeping as much of our money as we can.
- I like being able to control the texture. When they start out eating baby food, you want it so soupy it can fall off the spoon. Within a month, it should be more firm (but still finely processed). By the time they’re 9 months or so, though, it should be more chunky and thick. As they grow, it should be moving more toward table food pieces. When I make my own, I can make it exactly the right way for my baby’s age and stage.
- Less waste. Not as much plastic/paper/cardboard waste. Not as much food waste.
- I like the process. It is actually REALLY rewarding to make your own baby food, from start to finish. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside to know WHAT’s going in him, and that I’m providing healthy, nutritious, worthwhile food for my sweet little one.
- It’s easy to do. Read on, and I will show you just how easy it is!
STEP ONE: GATHER YOUR FOOD
Start with simple foods like:
- Sweet Potato
If you can grow or pick your own, all the better! (Until Luke, I’ve never lived in a part of the country or situation where I could legitimately do this.) This year, I’ve grown or picked more than half of the baby food I’ve made for Luke.
Mom tip #1: Since my first baby in 2002, I’ve used the thorough food guide in Super Baby Food to help me decide what foods to introduce, and when. It tells why to introduce certain foods before others, which foods you should add each month of age, and how to watch for food allergies.
STEP TWO: PREP YOUR FOOD PROPERLY
This is the place where I, especially in the early years when I was learning how to do this, consult my Super Baby Food guide.
Essentially, your choices are:
- Use raw foods (bananas and avocados are good raw choices). Be careful about too much of this one! Most things need to (initially) be cooked for your infant’s developing stomach. They will be able to handle more raw as they grow older.
- Steam (good for veggies like green beans, carrots, broccoli, and peas)
- Cook on the stovetop (oatmeal, rice, apples, potatoes)
- Bake (Squash, pumpkin, sweet potato)
- Or, use the crock pot (this is increasingly a favorite prep method for me!)– for all veggies and fruits. (Great thing about this? It can be ready in 3-4 hours, or cook while you sleep overnight. Soooooooo simple!)
In all these methods, for fruits and veggies, you’ll want to cut out any pits, seeds, hard stems/cores, and/or peels.
DON’T over think this– Less prep is better. Plenty of people make their applesauce, for example, with the cores and stems. It’s OK if it’s not “perfect.” Don’t be nervous.
STEP THREE: PUREE YOUR FOOD TO THE DESIRED TEXTURE
Scoop your cooked/ready food into the food processor (I use this one), along with whatever other flavors you want to add.
Play with food combinations. Some ideas:
- Mix grains with fruit.
- Mild-flavored veggies like squash, pumpkin, cauliflower, go well with more strong flavors like corn and broccoli.
- Rice or oats go with anything.
- Apples, bananas, and plums will sweeten just about anything, so be careful how much you use so you don’t develop end up with a child who won’t eat plain foods.
- As they get older and the options grow, begin adding in foods you actually eat in your home. (Mix leftover taco meat up with the beans and rice, for example. Or, we’ve done sausage, rice, and blackeyed peas for Luke.) The older they get, the more you can use the food cube method to get them used to the flavors of your home.
Again, the younger your baby, the more fine and watery the food should be. As your baby grows, increase the texture accordingly.
If you’re a first-time mom, it probably feels like there should be more detail here… but it’s really that simple.
- Start with simple flavors, and (discerningly watching for allergies) move toward the flavors and foods your family eats.
- Start with a fine texture, and (discerningly paying attention to what size they can eat without choking) move toward larger bits of food until your baby is ready for table food.
STEP FOUR: SCOOP INTO ICE CUBE TRAYS
Once you puree, use a spoon to scoop your baby food into ice cube trays. I’ve also used muffin tins and those divided-section party trays for this purpose. Basically, you can use anything you can scoop food into and portion out in baby-sized portions.
Mom tip #2: Make sure, before you get started, that whatever you use (party tray, muffin tin) can fit in your freezer! Some items won’t fit at all, but also, sometimes, I’ve needed to use up frozen pizzas or whatever to make room.
Mom tip #3: If you have a cute 5-year-old around who wants to do the scooping for you, put him to work. 🙂
STEP FIVE: FREEZE AND BAG
Stick the food-filled trays in the freezer for at least 6 hours (overnight is better), so they can harden and freeze.
When you pull them out, they will look like this:
Empty out your trays:
Mom Tip #4: If you have a hard time getting the food out of the ice cube tray, run hot water lightly over the bottom of the cubes (it just takes a few seconds for them to loosen enough to easily slide out of the tray!).
Then slip them into a freezer bag:
FINALLY: HEAT AND EAT
We use a simple cereal-sized glass bowl, pull out the number of food cubes we need, and heat it up in the 350-400 degree oven (usually along with our own lunch/dinner) for 8-12 minutes.
This is not an exact science:
- Just heat it up until the food cubes melt. (On average they heat up in about 10 minutes.)
- If it’s too hot, mix in half a banana or some cool water with Earth’s best rice cereal.
- If it’s too cool, put it back in a little longer.
- Use your finger to measure the temperature, and be sure to mix well so it’s evenly heated.
Your baby will love it and you will too!
We spend FAR less, even without growing our own food, by doing this… and the pay-off of having your own ready-made baby food can’t be bought!
Bless your baby, and save your money– make your own baby food!