» Baby Food
Your own Baby Foods
Making your own baby food is simple, convenient, and can save
you money. Nutritionally, it's hard to beat the wholesomeness of
foods right from your kitchen. You can feed baby some of your
family's regular foods knowing that they are free from the
additives and fillers found in some store-bought baby foods.
Family foods, if prepared with salt, spices, sugar, or fat, are
not suitable for infants. You will need to prepare foods
separately, or remove the baby's portion before salt, sugar, or
other seasonings are added.
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
Equipment for Pureeing Baby foods
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
remove lumps, pieces of skin, strings, or
seeds before feeding to baby.
A fine mesh sieve or strainer may be used to strain cooked
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. Use a blender to grind a
handful of uncooked brown rice, cook well until soft and smooth,
and you have a nutritious, inexpensive cereal for baby. For a
good source of protein, nut butters (like peanut butter) can be
made in a blender from whole nuts. Thin with water or formula
into a consistency suitable for older babies.
Raw or cooked foods can handily 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.
Some foods are ready to serve baby right from the grocery store.
Try canned pumpkin, unsweetened applesauce, instant mashed
potatoes, Cream of Wheat or rice cereal for quick, ready-to-eat
additions to meals.
Cleanliness is a priority when making foods for baby. Bacteria
can easily upset a baby's digestive system; so anything that
touches the food -- your hands and all equipment -- must be
absolutely clean. The same rule applies when storing, heating,
and serving baby foods, too.
Always wash your hands and equipment with hot, soapy water,
rinse, and let air dry.
Steaming is one of the best cooking methods to preserve vitamins
and minerals in foods. Place the food in a steam basket, sieve,
or colander above boiling water and cook in the rising steam.
Microwave cooking is another way to prepare foods, especially
vegetables,which cook quickly in very little water.
Boiling or simmering fruits and vegetables is an acceptable
cooking method but will result in loss of some nutrients in the
cooking water. Be sure to use only a small amount of water and
save the cooking liquid to thin the pureed food to eating
Since babies do not have a preference for salty or sweet, you
should not add salt or sugar to their food. It's a good idea to
keep your child from developing an early taste for such
Studies suggest that feeding babies too much sodium may trigger
high blood pressure later in life in those individuals who are
likely to develop high blood pressure.
Storing Baby foods
Pureed foods spoil more easily than other foods; so baby's 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
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 paper, and
freeze. When frozen, transfer to freezer bags. Another method is
to "plop" drops of pureed food on a cookie sheet, freeze, and
then transfer to freezer bags. These frozen portions will keep
about one month.
Thaw cubes in the refrigerator, in a double boiler, in the
microwave (at low setting), or in the plastic bag under cold
water. Do not thaw at room temperature.
What to Serve
Fresh and frozen fruit juice, fruits and vegetables without
added sugar or salt.
Home-canned and frozen fruits and vegetables without sugar,
salt, or seasonings.
Whole-grain cereals such as rice, oats, barley, corn, and other
As with any new food, wait 5-7 days before adding another new
food to see if any allergic reactions occur.
Honey Alert: Do not feed honey in any form to infants under 1
year of age. Serious food poisoning (infant botulism) may
Here are some simple baby food recipes to get you started.
COOKED LEAFY GREENS
(Makes 10 food cubes)
Many of the most nutritious veggies, especially the green leafy
ones, are not available in commercial baby foods. It's easy to
make your own.
1 pound fresh greens (kale, collards, etc.)
1 Tablespoon water
3 Tablespoons fruit juice
Wash leaves thoroughly. Steam most greens 5-15 minutes, leaving
the lid off for the first few minutes. Puree in blender with the
Total Calories Per Cube: 17
BASIC VEGETABLE RECIPE
(Makes 8 food cubes)
Do not add salt, sugar, or fat.
1 cup cooked fresh or frozen vegetables without salt (use
green beans, peas, carrots, yellow squash)
4-8 Tablespoons cooking liquid, formula, or water
Press vegetable chunks through a sieve or baby food mill,
with cooking liquid or formula to eating consistency. Or, puree
vegetables and liquid in blender until smooth. Serve or freeze.
Note: After trying single foods, good combinations are potatoes
and carrots or carrots and peas.
Total Calories Per Serving: varies
(Makes 4 food cubes)
Try different varieties of fruit in this recipe.
3/4 cup ripe fruit (uncooked peaches, nectarines, bananas,
1 teaspoon unsweetened fruit juice
1 teaspoon lemon-flavored water (1 teaspoon lemon juice to 1 cup
water to prevent darkening)
Remove skin and seeds from fruit. Puree ingredients in baby food
mill or blender until smooth. Serve or freeze.
Total Calories Per Serving: varies
(Makes 2-1/2 cups or 12 food cubes)
Serve this nutritious dish to your baby.
1 cup dry soybeans
3 cups water
3/4 cup unsalted tomato juice for thinning
Rinse and soak the soybeans overnight in the refrigerator.
Simmer beans in 3 cups water for about 2 hours. Puree with any
equipment, adding tomato juice to thin.
Total Calories Per Cube: 34
(Makes 1-2 cups)
Babies will love this dish.
1 sweet orange, peeled, sectioned, and seeds removed
1 cup fruit juice
In a blender, liquefy the fruit. Add the juice and blend. Pour
into loaf pan, cover, and freeze until fairly firm, about 1
Pour back into blender, and blend at low speed until smooth.
Return to pan and freeze until firm.
Total Calories Per 2 Tablespoons: 7
HOMEMADE FRUITY GEL
This recipe uses fruit juice instead of sugar to add sweetness.
Agar, the thickener, is derived from seaweed. It is available in
natural food stores and food co-ops.
1/2 cup cool water
1 Tablespoon agar flakes
1-1/2 cups fruit juice
1 cup pureed fruit
Place water in small saucepan. Sprinkle in agar and stir to
Add juice and heat for 1 minute, stirring well. Pour into 4
Place in refrigerator. After 1/2 hour, stir in pureed fruit.
Total Calories Per Serving: varies
Unlike store-bought varieties, this homemade version of "hard
tack" crumbles and melts in baby's mouth and is great for
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup rye graham flour
2 Tablespoons sugar or other sweetener
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
8 ounces commercial corn muffin mix
3 Tablespoons margarine
3/4 cup soy milk
Mix dry ingredients. Cut in margarine. Add soy milk. Mix well.
Roll thin, cut into shapes and bake 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees
Total Calories Per Cracker: 116
This is a delicious dish.
1/2 medium apple, cored and peeled 1/2 carrot, washed and peeled
2 Tablespoons fruit juice
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Puree all ingredients in blender. Or, grate apples and carrot
mix with juice before serving.
Total Calories Per Serving: 35