Tips for Making DIY Baby Food
Learn how easy and efficient it can be to make your own baby food.
As a new parent, finding ways to make things easier was always high on my list. That said, it probably sounds counterintuitive that the time spent making my own baby food was one of my most cherished moments of zen in an otherwise tiring and hectic day.
For many families, convenience trumps all else which is why jarred baby food and travel pouches are in high demand because they're easy go-tos. No judgement here – we’ve tried everything – but homemade baby food is what I gravitated to with the most frequency after I mastered learning how to make, store and serve it. I was really surprised by how easy it could be to make baby food in advance, and always have it on hand as my daughter transitioned from purees to solids.
Homemade baby food is great for a number of reasons. Want to learn how to make it?
Start by choosing ingredients. Scope out the pre-made baby food options for popular combinations, like apple-banana, raspberry-avocado, or test your creativity with sweet potato-squash-kale blends. You can buy fresh or frozen ingredients, organic, home-grown, or even use leftovers from your own dinner to help your child acquire a taste for the same foods you like.
Homemade baby food can be as healthy – and even more nutrious – as jarred. Another benefit? You can also control how much water is added to your recipes – some baby food is more diluted than others, meaning fewer nutrients per serving.
But just how do you make it? In many cases, it’s as easy as steaming vegetables, and using a fork, a potato masher, a hand blender, or a food processor to puree the chunks into a smooth consistency. A week's worth of food can be made in 30 minutes. If you want to crank things up a notch, you can invest in a product like a Beaba. Ours was a baby shower gift, and though I'll be the first to say that it definitely falls into the category of “baby gadgetry that you don’t really need,” it was nice to use. The tool is a small electric steamer and processor in one, so you can toss in your chopped veggies, set a timer for steaming, and then flip a switch and puree the food in the same container to minimize how many dishes you need to wash.
Since it's easy to make, I like to prepare baby food well in advance. When your baby is expected to only eat 1 or 2 or 4 tablespoons of food at a time, it’s easy to make multiple meals in one time-efficient swoop. Sometimes I would only need to prepare meals once every few weeks.
To the points above, choosing the ingredients and making it in bulk in advance, you’ll definitely notice a cost savings. Remember that a jar of baby food or a food pouch can cost $1+ each.
For on-the-go meal planning (or children like mine who are obsessed with the novelty of pouches), invest in a set of reusable pouches. Many are easy to fill with pre-made puree, are dishwasher-safe, and I was able to purchase my 8-pack for just $10.
Freeze the food that your child isn’t going to eat immediately or within a day of blending. This will preserve its freshness. The easiest way to freeze portion-sized meals is by scooping the puree into an ice tray. The silicone ice tray I use most often holds two tablespoons in each compartment, which made portion control easy at serving time. (The pouches shown above are freezer-safe too. When we’re going to be away for a few hours, I throw a frozen pouch into the diaper bag, and within a few hours it’s thawed and ready for snacking.)
When it comes to serving the frozen cubes, thaw the food for each meal in individual baby bowls in your refrigerator (allow about 12-hours for this magic to take place), or defrost in the microwave at each mealtime.
(Psst. If you're just introducing solids, you can even make DIY rice cereal! Pulse whole grain rice in a food processor to break the grains down into a powder, store it in an airtight container, and then simmer the powder in small batches in boiling water to cook it on demand. This can also be added to vegetable and fruit purees for nutritional value.)