by contributing writer Brandy Ferguson
Whether you begin feeding your baby solid foods at an early age or follow more of a baby-led weaning later on, homemade baby food is easy to make. Not only is homemade fresher and often more nutritious, it can also be much less expensive than the store-bought varieties.
With our eighth baby, I waited until he was 8 or 9 months old, and tried to take my cue from him for when he was ready to try solid foods. Many foods, I simply mashed with a fork and offered to him, which he accepted with great success.
Since he did enjoy a smoother texture, I experimented with just a few purees and made several of his favorites to keep in the freezer.
I bought these handy trays for freezing, but you can just as easily use BPA-free ice-cube trays. Once frozen, just pop them out and store in freezer bags until ready to thaw and serve.
Good First Foods
When your baby is ready, here are a few easy foods to start with that require nothing more than a fork for mashing:
- ripe, mashed avocado
- ripe, mashed banana
- baked, mashed sweet potato
- steamed, mashed squash
- cooked egg yolks (no whites, thinned with water)
While it’s not always necessary to puree your baby’s foods, some moms prefer to do so. For most vegetables, the process of making baby food is generally the same. Steam or boil the vegetables until tender, then mash or place in a food processor and pulse until smooth. When necessary, add a bit of filtered water to thin any veggie purees and make them the right consistency for your baby.
One great benefit of making baby food ahead of time and keeping in the freezer is the ability to have it ready to either serve your baby at home or even toss it into a diaper bag for later that day.
A few great veggies for experimenting with include the following:
Not only can you serve these veggie purees to your baby, you can also add them into sauces, chili, and even some soups as a way to sneak in foods that your older and pickier children wouldn’t eat otherwise.
Fruits can sometimes take a while longer to steam, but the process works the same. Steam or boil, then process or mash until completely smooth. Again, you can skip the puree process entirely if your baby is ready.
- Apples (I find organic applesauce at Costco for much less expensive than homemade.)
- Plum & Banana Puree
Once your baby begins cutting teeth, you might decide to make your own teething biscotti, too.
Vegetable Casserole for Toddlers
Once your older baby has a few teeth and has moved on to a bigger variety of foods, not only can you experiment and mix and match the fruit and veggie puree combinations (or just serve them softer, bite-size chunks), but you can begin offering him/her foods with a bit more texture and variety, too.
This recipe for Toddler Veggie Casserole is extremely flexible. You can choose any vegetables that your baby or toddler tolerates well and even add a bit of garlic, onion, butter and/or cheese, if you prefer. Our one-year-old and two-year-old boys love it!