Learning how to make baby food can be surprisingly easy and far less expensive than buying commercial varieties. The only special tools you’ll need are a strainer and either a blender, food processor, food mill or baby-food grinder to purée soft-cooked foods.
To prepare fresh fruits and vegetables, start by scrubbing and removing all seeds or pits. Some foods, like ripe bananas, need not be cooked, but firmer choices must be steamed, boiled or roasted until soft.
To make baby food, once puréed, foods can be placed in ice cube trays and frozen. Transfer frozen cubes to a freezer bag or container labeled with the date, and keep them in the freezer for up to a month. To serve the solid food, thaw cubes overnight in the refrigerator, over low heat in a saucepan or in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes. If heating purée, be sure to stir it thoroughly to avoid hot spots, and allow it to cool so that when you hold it against your own lip, it feels only slightly warm before you offer it to your baby.
Here is a list of the best first foods for baby with preparation instructions from Eileen Behan, RD, author of The Baby Food Bible. Plus, get more yummy ideas for homemade baby food.
How to make baby food
How to make baby food with it
|Apples||Peel, core and chop. Add 1 tablespoon water and cook, covered, on stovetop until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain, reserving liquid. Purée with 1 to 2 tablespoons of reserved liquid; strain.|
|Beef||Cook lean, grass-fed beef (preferably organic) until there is no trace of pink. Remove all bones, skin, connective tissue, gristle and fat. Chop, then purée, adding water until smooth.|
|Beets||Cover whole beets with water, bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat; simmer 30 to 60 minutes, or until tender when poked with a fork. Run under cool water and remove skin. Chop and purée. (Note: Do not feed beets to babies under 3 months old.)|
|Carrots||Peel, then chop into ¼-inch chunks. Place in saucepan with 1 to 2 tablespoons water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook until very tender, about 2 to 4 minutes. Drain, reserving liquid. Purée with a small amount of reserved liquid until smooth.|
|Small parsnips||Peel and chop into ½-inch pieces. Cover with water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer covered for 4 to 8 minutes or until very tender. Cool and drain, reserving liquid. Purée with enough reserved liquid to make a smooth, fluffy result.|
|Peaches||For peeling ease, dip into boiling water for 1 minute, then run under cold water and peel. Pit and chop. Purée with a little water or unsweetened juice until smooth.|
|Pears||Slice in half and remove core. With cut side down on a plate, microwave for 1 minute or until tender. Cool and drain, reserving liquid. Purée with a little reserved liquid until smooth. Get recipes for pear puree.|
|Plums||Cut in half, remove pit and chop. Place in saucepan, add 1 tablespoon of water (if needed; juicy plums may not require it). Cover and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes. Drain, reserving liquid. Purée with a little reserved liquid (if necessary) until smooth.|
|Sweet potatoes||Prick skin, and bake at 350°F until very soft. Remove skin. Purée with 1 to 2 tablespoons breast milk or water. Get sweet potato puree recipes.|
|Turkey||Roast a turkey breast in the oven, brown ground turkey or form ground turkey into patties. Cook until no pinkness remains. Remove all bones, skin, connective tissue, gristle and fat. Purée chopped cooked turkey, adding water as necessary until smooth.|
|Yellow squash or zucchini||Trim off ends, then cut into chunks. Steam for 3 to 5 minutes or until tender. Purée, then strain.|
By Stacy Whitman
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