Making Homemade Baby Food (Without Losing your Mind)
Lou is seven months now and we are becoming very adventurous with SOLIDS! This girl loves to eat everything! (She has never declined a food LOL.)
We were given the go-ahead from our pediatrician at Lou’s four-month check-up to start solids. Four months happened to land in December, so we didn’t actually start solids until she turned 5 months (just out of convenience; we were so busy over the holidays and didn’t want to start a routine we couldn’t stay consistent with.)
Starting solids is (like everything in parenthood) scary and unknown! I basically scoured the internet for tips and used some handouts our pediatrician gave us to come up with a game plan that would work for us.
Take away what you will from my experience but use your best parenting judgement when it comes to your own child and your own unique lifestyle! What has worked for us may not for you and vice versa. And please make sure to consult with your pediatrician before starting solids with your babe!
With that being said, here are some general tips and steps I took when introducing solids to Lou. I followed these ‘rules’ each month and it helped me not feel overwhelmed by this process!
Month Five guidelines:
· Single foods only; 1 meal a day, 1-2 oz per meal
· I only served Lou fresh foods (I’m not sure if everyone does this, but our pediatrician advised that you should only serve fresh foods until they are 6 months old.)
· Every three days I would introduce a new food. I would cook/puree the food and then refrigerate and serve within 48 hours. (The general rule is to introduce one new food at a time to check for food allergies. Serve a small amount of the new food on day 1, and then gradually increase the amount each day.)
· Five-month foods that Lou ate were baby cereal, avocado, sweet potato, banana, green peas, pears, butternut Squash, apples and zucchini. (I introduced them in this order.)
· Introduce mixed purees; 2 meals a day, 1-2 oz per meal
· At six months I did one big grocery trip and bought all the foods I would need to make a month’s worth of baby food! I spent about $15.00 and took a Sunday to prepare all the foods and freeze them. I froze all the foods separately so I could mix and match as I wanted. (See below for more details about prep!)
· Once Lou could tolerate single, pureed foods, I started mixing foods. I read somewhere that you want to give them a wide range and switch it up as much as possible, so that they develop the taste for many different fruits and veggies!
· New foods introduced this month were green beans and mango (mango upset her tummy. When this happens, just wait a month or so and try again!)
· 3 meals a day, 2-3 oz per meal
· This month we have upped our meals to breakfast, lunch and dinner! Lou LOVES to eat and I really wanted to start getting into more of a routine with our meals. She is eating 3 oz for breakfast, and then 2 oz for lunch/dinner.
· New foods we are adding this month are: blueberries, peaches, chickpeas, chicken and corn.
Now, why did I choose to make my own baby food?
Well the biggest reason for me is that I LOVE TO COOK! I loved the idea that I could buy, prepare and serve my baby foods that I made and I loved knowing exactly what was going into my baby’s food. I love meal planning and making lists and the idea of creating yummy combos for Lou excited me.
The second reason was to save money. (You guys, this is very, very quick and basic calculations so bear with me!) If your baby is eating 3 meals a day and eating 3 oz per meal, that means they need 9 oz per day or 270 oz per month. For organic baby food that’s about $88.00/month, for basic Gerber baby purees it’s about $43.00/month. I can spend around $20-$25 and make enough to last me a month +.
The one disclaimer I will make is that TIME IS MONEY! It did take hours out of my day to wash/peel/cut/cook/puree/clean dishes, etc.! Time is precious and no shame if you don’t have the time or energy to do this! If it was just about the money, I would NOT be making all of Lou’s food.
Onto the actual preparation of the food. Guys, it’s SO simple to make your baby purees! I don’t have any fancy equipment, but you do need the following:
· A blender
· Ice cube trays (cheapo ones are fine; most hold 1 oz which is perfect and easy for knowing how much you’re serving baby.)
· Ziploc bags
· Permanent marker
· A sieve (this could be optional, but I liked using it for some fruits.)
· Basic kitchen items (pots/pans, etc.)
Here is a list of our first foods and how they were prepared:
· Avocado: dice, throw into a blender (you don’t need to cook.) Add liquid until desired consistency is reached (see note below.)
· Sweet potato: wash, peel, dice. Roast or boil until very soft. Blend (you will need to add a liquid to this to thin it out.)
· Banana: chop and blend (don’t have to cook this!)
· Green peas: I used frozen, organic peas. Cooked them in a pot and then blended.
· Pears and apples: Washed and chopped. Steamed them (separately) until very tender. Blended and then I strained through a sieve. (You could peal these fruits and then you wouldn’t need to use the sieve, but it is a LOT of work to peal all that fruit! I found using the sieve made the consistency perfect and got rid of all those tough skins you avoided peeling!)
· Butternut Squash: Washed and cut in half. Place in a baking pan with a little bit of water. Roast in the oven until tender. Scoop out the inside and puree.
· Zucchini: Wash, chop, steam, blend.
***Some cooking notes: Do NOT use salt/oil/etc. when you cook for your babies. The plain fruit or vegetable is enough and your baby cannot handle additives! Some food will need liquid added when you puree them. If you need to add liquid use a little bit of the reserved cooking liquid, breastmilk, formula or water. Personally I used either water or cooking liquid because I was not sure about freezing formula.***
Once the foods were blended and cooled I scooped them into a Ziploc baggy, cut a whole in the corner and squeezed them into the ice cube trays. I placed the ice cube trays in the freezer and once they were totally frozen I popped the cubes out and put them into Ziploc (labeled with the name of the food and the date cooked.)
Once I did this first HUGE batch, it was easy to every week just add another prepared puree. Also, sometimes I have fruits/veggies in my fridge I didn’t get around to using and will end up cooking them and making them into purees!
Every night I line up three small Tupperware containers and take out 2-3 frozen cubes for each of Lou’s meals. I usually do fruit for breakfast and then a root veggie/veggie combo for lunch and dinner. I try to mix up every meal and not serve the same food more than once a day! I let these thaw in the fridge overnight.
Aren't these purees BEAUTIFUL? The one above is apple, blueberry and banana (Lou's breakfast this morning.) Every time my husband feeds Lou he is jealous of how pretty her meal is. And the best part is they taste great. Yes big surprise, they actually taste like the fruit or vegetable that they are!
I hope these tips help and whatever feeding route you take...Good Luck!