Do i need to cook fruit for baby food
Making Your Own Baby Food
You don’t have to buy commercially prepared food for your baby. Homemade baby food is easy to make, inexpensive and environmentally friendly. It can be as nutritious, if not more nutritious, than store-bought baby food. Eating homemade baby food teaches your baby to enjoy the same foods that you prepare for the rest of the family, also.
Your baby is ready for table food when they can move their tongue from side to side, chew with their new teeth, and spoon feed themselves with their fingers or with your help. When your baby is between six and 11 months old, you can start gradually adding a variety of table foods to their diet. Refer to HGIC 4100, Feeding Your Infant for a general guideline of suggested times to offer different foods to your infant.
At first, feed your baby single ingredient foods that have been pureed. Offer only one new food at a time for several days in a row. Watch for signs of a food allergy (e.g. rash; hives; coughing; diarrhea or vomiting), and contact the doctor if your baby has any of these signs. Otherwise, give your baby about a week to adjust to a new food before offering another one.
Gradually your baby will be ready for some foods that are not pureed. You can begin mashing their foods with a fork or finely chopping soft foods like vegetables, fruits or cooked chicken. You can feed them small cubes of toast or bread, also.
Do not serve your baby a mixed-ingredient food until they have eaten each individual food separately, and you know they are not allergic to any of them. Mixed foods (e.g. casseroles and pizza) are not appropriate for babies under a year old. These foods may cause an allergic reaction, or they may contain ingredients that could choke your baby.
Pureeing Table Food
Definition: Pureeing food means that you put it through a sieve or grinder to make it into a liquid-like, smooth texture. For a thinner consistency, add water or other liquids.
Equipment: You can puree many foods from the family table for your baby by using a fork, potato masher, blender, strainer, food mill or baby food grinder. Foods can be mashed with a fork or chopped finely for older babies.
Safe Preparation Procedures: Follow clean, sanitary procedures in all food preparation and storage. Wash your hands, all surfaces and equipment with detergent in hot water and rinse thoroughly. Use separate utensils and cutting boards for animal foods (e.g. meat and poultry) and non-animal foods (e.g. vegetables, fruits and breads).
After cleaning food preparation surfaces, sanitize them by flooding the surfaces with bleach solution made from 1 teaspoon unscented chlorine bleach to 1 quart water. Allow solution to stand for several minutes, then rinse and air dry or pat dry with fresh paper towels.
Thoroughly rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten. While rinsing firm-skin fruits and vegetables, scrub them by rubbing with your hands or with a clean vegetable brush. Remove and throw away bruised or damaged areas where bacteria can thrive on produce. Washing fruits and vegetables with soap, detergent, chlorine bleach solution, or commercial produce wash is not recommended, because they could be absorbed into the produce or leave a residue that could make some babies sick.
Ways to Cook: Steaming and boiling are the best cooking methods to conserve nutrients. Microwave cooking is acceptable, especially for vegetables. Do not add salt, seasonings, sugar, margarine, butter, lard, oil, cream, syrups, gravy, sauces or fat drippings to food for babies less than one year old. Foods taste differently to your baby than they taste to you.
Rub a small amount of pureed food between your fingers to test for smoothness. You may need to add some fluid (e.g. formula, breast milk, fruit juice, water or cooking water) to make it the right consistency.
Foods to Use: Choose high-quality fresh (preferred), frozen or canned vegetables, fruits and meats. The United States now requires Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) to give consumers information about the origin of foods. The following foods sold in retail stores must have a COOL label: meat, poultry, wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish; fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables; peanuts, pecans and macadamia nuts, and ginseng sold by designated retailers. However, these foods are not required to have a COOL label if they have been physically or chemically changed through a process such as cooking, curing or smoking.
Vegetables & Fruits: Wash vegetables and fruits well in clean cold running water. Before cooking, remove parts not to be eaten (inedible peels, seeds, pits). Edible skins and peels can be removed either before or after cooking.
Fresh-cooked vegetables and fruits can be pureed with no added salt, sugar, fat or other unnecessary additives. To minimize vitamin loss, boil fresh vegetables or fruits in a covered saucepan with a small amount of water. Or, steam them until just tender enough to either puree, mash or eat as a finger food.
Canned or frozen vegetables and fruits may be pureed, also. When using commercially processed canned or frozen items, check the ingredient label to avoid extra sugar, salt, fat, and other unnecessary additives.
Commonly Pureed Vegetables & Fruits: Ripe mashed bananas; applesauce; dried, cooked prunes; fresh pears and peaches, soft-cooked and pureed; potatoes; sweet potatoes; winter squash; peas; asparagus and green or wax beans. Do not serve citrus fruits or juices until the baby is one year old.
High-Nitrate Vegetables to Limit: A baby under six months old should not eat home-prepared high-nitrate vegetables, including: beets; broccoli; cabbage; carrots; celery; collard greens; lettuce; spinach and turnips. It is best to wait until your child is a year old before feeding them these vegetables. Limit to no more than one to two tablespoons per feeding.
Nitrates in these foods can change to nitrites, which bind iron in the blood, making it hard to carry oxygen. This may cause breathing difficulty and may even make the skin turn blue.
Meats: Remove all bones, skin, connective tissue, gristle and fat from meats, poultry and fish before cooking. After cooking, remove tough parts and visible fat.
All meats, poultry and fish should be well cooked to kill harmful bacteria, viruses or parasites. Baking, boiling, broiling, braising, roasting, stewing, poaching and steaming are good cooking methods, but frying is not. Cook food until soft and tender and it reaches a safe temperature, according to a meat thermometer. Refer to HGIC 3580, Cooking Meat Safely for more information.
Cut cooked meat into small pieces or thin slices and puree. Warm meat is easier to blend than cold meat. Do not cook food in an oven at a temperature below 325 °F. Do not heat pureed meats in the microwave, because hot spots in the meat could seriously burn your baby’s mouth and throat.
Before you feed your child hot dog wieners, luncheon meats or deli meats, thoroughly reheat these meats until steamy hot. Let them cool before serving. Reheating destroys Listeria, a foodborne bacteria that, if present, could make your infant sick.
Eggs: Buy refrigerated eggs with clean, uncracked shells. Store them in the original carton in the main section of the refrigerator, not on the refrigerator door. Use eggs within three to five weeks after getting them home and putting them in your refrigerator.
Hard cook eggs until the yolks and whites are firm and not runny, and then separate the yolks from the whites. Serve only the yolks to babies less than one year old, because egg whites may cause an allergic reaction. To soften the yolks, mash them with some liquid, such as sterile water or infant formula. Make sure that eggs are not kept at room temperature for more than two hours, including serving time.
Never feed a baby raw or partially cooked eggs or foods that contain them (e.g. homemade ice cream, mayonnaise or eggnog). Pasteurized egg products, such as dried egg yolks that are used by some chefs and institutions, are extremely safe to serve your baby. However, pasteurized egg products contain some salt or sugar for stability if frozen.
Dry Beans & Dry Peas: Follow cooking instructions on the package label or a basic cookbook. Do not add seasonings, salt, or fat to the beans or peas. Cook until soft enough to puree or mash easily. If canned beans or peas are used, drain the salty water and rinse them with clean water before pureeing or mashing.
Grain Products: Cook noodles, macaroni, spaghetti, rice, barley and other grain kernels until very soft. Then mash, puree, or finely chop, depending on the baby’s development. Babies can choke on cooked grain kernels that are not mashed or ground.
Unsafe Foods to Avoid: Do not give babies any baked goods or other foods that contain honey (e.g. graham crackers made with honey or Honey Nut Cheerios®). Never add honey or corn syrup to your baby’s food, because it may contain bacterial spores that could cause a life-threatening illness or even death. Avoid canned food from dented, rusted, bulging, leaking or unlabeled cans and jars.
Do not feed your baby any home-canned food except fruits. In addition, do not feed them raw fruit purees, because some raw fruit can carry pathogens and is a food safety risk. Therefore, you should heat the puree of raw fresh fruits (e.g. apples, peaches, pears, melons and other soft fruits) to about 180 °F, or to a simmering temperature, and then cool. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also warns against giving young children unpasteurized fruit juices.
Serving Table Food
Prepare foods for a baby immediately before use, and avoid using leftover food. Allow freshly cooked food to cool for 10 to 15 minutes so that it does not burn your baby’s mouth and throat. Before feeding the food to the baby, taste test the temperature using a CLEAN spoon.
Food that is not eaten right away should be refrigerated or frozen immediately after cooking. Cover, wrap, or protect food, and label with the date and time prepared.
Never leave baby food (solid or liquid) for more than two hours at room temperature (between 40 °F and 140 °F) or for more than one hour if the temperature is above 90 °F. Throw out any foods left unrefrigerated for longer times. When food is left out longer, bacteria can grow to harmful levels and may cause your baby to get sick.
Storing Table Food After Cooking
Refrigerator: Baby food spoils more easily than other foods, because it has been pureed or ground. It also does not contain the preservatives needed in many shelf-stable processed foods. If freshly prepared baby food (pureed food) is not used right away, refrigerate it in shallow covered containers and use within one or two days. Meats, poultry, fish and egg yolks should be used within 24 hours. Make sure your refrigerator maintains the food at a consistent temperature of 40 °F or lower to keep food safe.
Freezer: Freeze pureed baby food in single-serve portions so that it can be heated and safely fed to your baby. There are two recommended ways to freeze it.
Ice Cube Tray Method: For single-serve portions, pour cooled, pureed food into a paper cupcake liner or directly into sections of a clean ice cube tray. Cover with plastic wrap or foil and place in freezer.
Cookie Sheet Method: Drop 1-2 tablespoons of cooked, pureed food in separate spots on a clean cookie sheet. Cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and put in freezer.
When cubes or pieces of food are frozen solid, put them in a plastic freezer container or bag and store in the freezer. Write the name of the food and the date on the container and use within one month for best quality. Make sure the freezer temperature is cold enough (preferably 0 °F or below) to keep food safe.
Thawing: Frozen food can be thawed, or defrosted, three ways: in the refrigerator; under cold running water or as part of the reheating process. Don’t thaw baby food on the counter at room temperature or in standing water (e. g. in a pan or bowl).
When you remove baby food from the freezer, label it with the date and time removed. Store thawed food in the refrigerator and use most within 48 hours or throw it out. Meats, poultry and fish should be thrown out after 24 hours, however. Do not refreeze baby food that has thawed.
Warming: Baby food can be served cold, at room temperature or slightly warmed. Refrigerated or frozen home-prepared baby food should be thoroughly reheated to at least 165 °F before feeding it to your baby.
There are three ways to warm baby food.
An Electric Baby Dish: This keeps the food at constant temperature, but food should always be stirred and tested for temperature before feeding to the baby.
A Small Heat-resistant Dish Placed in a Saucepan: After dishes are placed in about an inch of water in a saucepan, heat water to simmering, not boiling. When food is warm, remove, stir and test for temperature.
Higher-fat foods, such as meat and eggs, should always be warmed on the stove, because they heat faster and splatter or overheat more.
A Microwave Oven: Microwave ovens heat unevenly and cause “hot spots,” even if the food feels cool to you. If you decide to heat your baby’s food in the microwave, follow these safety tips. Cover the dish with a microwave-safe cover, not plastic wrap. Stir food well and turn dish often. Heat food only a few seconds to a lukewarm temperature. Stir to prevent “hot spots,” then let sit for a few minutes.
Regardless of the warming method you use, always stir and taste test food yourself. Make sure the temperature is lukewarm and won’t cause severe burns to your baby’s mouth and throat.
Feed your baby with a CLEAN spoon, and throw away any leftover food in the baby’s dish or the serving dish. Reheat food only one time, and never refreeze food that has been thawed.
Pureed Baby Food Recipes
Making your own fresh fruit purees is a food safety risk, unless you heat them first. Raw fruit purees are unsafe for babies to eat, because some raw fruit can carry pathogens. Therefore, you should heat the puree of raw fresh fruits (e.g. apples, peaches, pears, melons and other soft fruits) to about 180 °F, or to a simmering temperature, and then cool. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns against giving young children unpasteurized fruit juices, also.
Bananas Plain & Simple:
Choose a ripe banana with an unbroken peel and no damage to the outside. Rinse the banana under running water and remove the peel. Puree or mash the banana with a clean fork. Serve immediately, and throw away leftover banana.
1 medium apple
4 tablespoons (¼ cup) pineapple juice
Peel, quarter and core apple. Combine with pineapple juice and heat to about 180 °F, or a simmering temperature, until soft. Blend until smooth in texture. Let cool before serving to baby.
Apples & Peaches:
½ cup + 2 tablespoons water
1 cup peaches (fresh, frozen, or canned in juice)
Peel, core, and dice apple. Combine with ½ cup water in a saucepan, then bring to a boil over high heat. Cook for 5 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes, then puree mixture until smooth.
While apple is cooling, prepare the peaches. If using fresh peaches, peel and slice them. Combine peaches with 2 tablespoons water in a blender. Puree until smooth. Combine apple and peach mixture and heat the puree to about 180 °F, or to a simmering temperature. Let cool before serving to your baby. Freeze no longer than one month for best quality.
Pureed Fruit Delight:
½ cup freshly cooked or home-canned fruits. Use apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, apricots or cooked dried prunes (without sugar).
2-4 teaspoons liquid (water, formula, breast milk or unsweetened fruit juice – not citrus)
Remove skin and seeds. Press through a sieve, or put ingredients in food mill or blender and puree until smooth. Serve or freeze. Freeze no longer than one month for best quality.
Yummy Fresh Fruit:
¾ cup ripe fruit (uncooked peaches, nectarines, pears or apricots) without sugar
1 tablespoon unsweetened fruit juice (not citrus)
Remove skin and seeds. Puree ingredients in baby food mill or blender until smooth. Heat the puree to about 180 °F, or to a simmering temperature. Let cool, then serve or freeze. Freeze no longer than one month for best quality.
1 cup frozen peas
¾ cup water
Place peas and water in saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, and cook for 6 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes, then puree until smooth. Serve or freeze. Freeze no longer than one month for best quality.
½ cup cooked fresh, frozen or canned vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, peas, carrots, yellow squash), no salt added
2-4 tablespoons cooking liquid, formula or water
Cook fresh vegetables, or use frozen or canned vegetables without salt or seasoning. (Read labels for ingredients.) Press vegetable chunks through a sieve or baby food mill. Thin with cooking liquid or formula to eating consistency. Or, put cooked vegetables and liquid in a blender and puree until smooth. Serve or freeze. Freeze no longer than one month for best quality.
Note: After the individual vegetables have been fed several times, some good combinations are: potatoes and carrots, potatoes and green beans, carrots and peas.
Simple Strained Meat or Poultry:
(for babies over 8 months)
½ cup cooked meat (small pieces of lean chicken, beef, turkey or pork)
2-4 tablespoons meat broth or formula
Cook lean meat (fat, skin and connective tissue removed) over low heat in a small amount of water. Puree meat and liquid until smooth. Serve or freeze. Freeze no longer than one month for best quality.
Your Choice Combo Dish:
(for babies over 8 months)
1 cup cooked, cubed or diced meat (cut off fat)
½ cup cooked rice, potatoes, noodles or macaroni
⅔ cup cooked, diced vegetables
¾ to 1 cup liquid (formula, broth or water)
Combine and blend until smooth. Serve or freeze in serving-size containers. If frozen, use within one month for best quality.
Note: Serve combination dishes only after you have fed the individual foods several times.
Egg Yolk Puree:
(for babies over 8 months)
Put eggs in a saucepan and cover them with 1 inch of cold water. Put pan on a burner on medium-high heat. Let water come to a boil, put a lid on the pan, and move the pan onto a cold burner. Set a timer for 15 minutes for large-sized eggs (12 minutes for medium-sized or 18 minutes for extra large-sized). When the time is up, cool the eggs promptly by setting the pan in the sink and running cold water into the pan.
Peel eggs and remove yolks. The recommended way to peel an egg is to gently tap the cooled egg on the countertop or table until it has cracks in it. Roll it between your hands until the cracks turn into small crackles all over the egg. Starting at the large end of the egg, use your fingers to peel off the shell.
Combine egg yolks with 1 tablespoon of formula or water per yolk and mash until smooth. Store in refrigerator and use within one day. Or, freeze and use within one month for best quality.
Note: Use only the yolks. The extra egg whites can be used in the family’s casseroles, salads or other dishes. To avoid problems with allergies, wait until your baby is a year old to feed them egg whites.
Fruit & Yogurt:
(for babies 10 months and older)
¼ cup plain yogurt
¼ cup cooked, unsweetened fruit
Combine yogurt and fruit, mashing lumps of fruit if necessary.
(for babies over 1 year)
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups milk, warmed
Mix egg yolks and sugar. Stir in milk and mix well. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture coats the spoon. Store in refrigerator and use within one to two days.
Home Canning of Baby Food
Fruits Only: Fruits are the only type of baby food that may be canned safely at home. However, the following fruit purees should not be home canned: bananas; figs; Asian pears; tomatoes; cantaloupe and other melons; papaya; ripe mango or coconut. There are no safe recommendations for these fruits. Other fruits can be pureed or mashed (chunk-style), and then processed in the following way.
Hot Pack: Select your favorite fruit or mixture of fruits. Stem, wash, drain, peel and remove pits from fruit if necessary. Measure fruit into a large saucepan, crushing slightly if desired. Add 1 cup hot water for each quart of fruit. Cook slowly until fruit is soft, stirring frequently. Press through a sieve or food mill. If desired for flavor, add sugar to taste. Reheat pulp to boil. If sugar was added, boil until it dissolves. Pack hot fruit into clean, hot half-pint or pint jars, leaving ½-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rims. Adjust lids. Process half-pints or pints in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes of actual boiling over the tops of the jars. For step-by-step instructions on using the boiling water bath method, refer to HGIC 3040, Canning Foods at Home.
Do not use commercial baby food jars for canning, because they require special equipment for sealing that is not available for home use.
To Serve: Heat the blended foods to boiling, simmer for 10 minutes, cool and serve. Store unused portions in the refrigerator and use within 2 days for best quality.
Caution: Do not attempt to can pureed vegetables, red meats or poultry. Proper processing times for pureed foods have not been determined for home use. Instead, can and store these foods using the standard processing procedures. Then puree or blend them at serving times.
Commercial Baby Foods
Sometimes you want to make baby food at home from fresh ingredients, but at other times you may need to feed your baby store-bought baby food, which is a convenient, nutritious option.
Nutrition Labels: Read nutrition labels so you’ll know what ingredients are in the food you buy for your baby. Most commercial baby food companies no longer add salt, sugar and starch like they did in the past. Combination foods (e.g. dinners and desserts) often have added starch and sugar. They also are more expensive and may be less nutritious than individual foods.
Infants grow so fast that they need more calories from fat than older children and adults. Therefore, labels on food for infants and children less than two years old do not list the calories from fat, saturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, monounsaturated fat or cholesterol. Labels also don’t contain the column “Percent Daily Values” or the reference to the 2,000-calorie diet.
Baby food is packaged for different stages (e.g. stage 1, 2 or 3), depending on the texture of the food.
Cautions: Do not feed a baby under one year of age any commercial foods containing whole eggs or egg whites. Never heat commercial baby food in the jars, because they could crack or break when heated in the oven, boiling water or the microwave.
For More Information
For related information on feeding your baby, refer to HGIC 4100, Feeding Your Infant, HGIC 4101, Breast Milk or Infant Formula?, HGIC 4102, Introducing Solid Foods to Infants and HGIC 3640, Food Safety for Pregnant Women & Their Babies.
Originally published 09/05
If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at [email protected] or 1-888-656-9988.
Making Your Own Baby Food
Read time: 7 minutesWhat to know about making your own baby food
- Advantages to making your own baby food purees
- Supplies you need to get started
- Cooking methods to make homemade baby food
- Baby food puree recipes to get you started
Once your little one is ready to start solids, the next question often asked is: Do I make baby’s food or buy it? The store offers many baby food options, but making at least some of the food at home may allow for even more variety.
With a little bit of planning and use of some of the utensils you likely already have around the house, making homemade baby food doesn’t have to be as daunting as it sounds.What are some advantages of making your baby’s pureed food?
- Greater control over what you feed your baby: You can use a wider variety of ingredients that are not always available in store-bought baby food.1,10
- Money saver! Did you know the price of 2 to 3 containers of baby food is almost equal to that of 4 to 6 pears, which can create enough pureed food for 10 or more meals for your baby?1
- May help reduce picky eating: Repeatedly offering a greater variety of foods, as well as foods the family eats (with minor changes in textures and ingredients to meet your baby’s needs), may help make your little one a more adventurous eater, even into childhood.2
Read more: Introducing Solids: First Foods & Textures
You might be worried that you need an elaborate kitchen setup and all new kitchen tools to make your baby’s purees, but the good news is that you likely have many of the tools already needed to whip up some homemade baby food!Here is a list of some of the tools that can be used to make homemade baby food:
- Vegetable peeler
- Pot for boiling or steaming
- Sheet pan for baking
- Steamer basket
- Blender or food processor
- Fork and knife
- Food mill
- Potato masher
- Ice cube trays
Following proper food safety is especially important when cooking for children and especially for baby’s first foods. 3 Babies are more prone to foodborne illness than older children or healthy adults, so always wash your hands, rinse the food items, clean your work area, cook foods to their recommended internal temperatures, and avoid cross-contamination.3
For more specifics on proper food safety protocols, see Food Safety for Babies and ToddlersWhat cooking methods should I use when making baby food?
There are many cooking options available for pureeing food for your baby. Each method has pros and cons in terms of ease and retention of nutritional value:
- Steaming: A very popular (and easy!) method, steaming allows for minimal nutrient loss and the leftover water can be used as stock for pureeing.4
- Boiling or Stewing: While also convenient, this cooking method results in greater nutrient loss into the surrounding water. To recoup these nutrients, you can use the cooking water when you make a puree or broth. 4
- Baking or Roasting: Great for making large quantities in the oven. Baked food items retain a good amount of their nutrients.4,5
- Microwave Cooking: Super easy but mainly best used for only small quantities. Be aware that microwaving may lead to uneven cooking and hot spots in the food or liquids.6
- Pressure Cooking: This technique may require additional kitchen equipment but retains much of the foods’ nutrients because this method uses very little water and is fairly quick.5
- Grilling: Babies and small children can eat grilled foods. When grilling, aim for a low temperature and avoid burning or charring meats.7
- Sautéing and stir-frying: Another fast and flavorful option!
*Note that the longer you cook a food for and the higher the temperature used in cooking, the more nutrients may be lost. 5What foods should I cook for baby?
Fruits, vegetables, grains, and meats can all be cooked and pureed into baby food. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states there is no specific order that foods should be introduced.8
Some foods need to be avoided as they are choking hazards. Read more on Preventing ChokingHere’s how to prepare homemade foods for your baby:Vegetables
Always cook vegetables before serving to your baby – steaming, roasting, or baking are the best methods. Once cooked, softer vegetables like sweet potatoes and squash need only be mashed with a fork or potato masher.
If the vegetable has a thick skin, like green beans or peas, push the cooked food through a strainer or sieve to remove the tougher parts. You can also just use a very powerful food processor or blender to puree the entire vegetable once cooked!
Try adding herbs such as oregano, rosemary, or dill; or spices such as cumin, ginger, or curry powder.
Try one of these vegetable puree recipes: Avocado and Pea Puree or Root Vegetable PureeFruits
Certain fruits, like avocados and bananas; or very ripe pears, mango, and peaches; require no cooking before feeding to your baby. Simply peel then mash them up with a fork or blend quickly.
Other harder fruits, like apples, firmer pears, and underripe nectarines and mangos can be baked or steamed to soften them up for a puree. Simply halve or quarter your fruit of choice, remove the skin, remove the core, pit, or seeds. Place the cut fruit in a shallow baking dish with about 1 inch of water in a 400F degree oven.
Bake for 20-40 minutes, or until fruit is tender, then allow to cool before pureeing in a blender or dicing for finger food.
You can even sprinkle the fruit with ginger, nutmeg, or cinnamon!
Fruit puree recipes to try: Orange Sunny Soup or Beet and Cantaloupe PureeGrains and Cereals
You can make your own baby cereal at home using whole grains such as oatmeal, brown rice, or barley.
Finely grind the uncooked grain using a coffee grinder, food processor, or blender. Then cook the powder in water for 15 minutes until you get a thin, soupy consistency. You can also cook the raw grain whole, as you normally would for yourself, and then puree or mash. But this method can sometimes create a pasty consistency.
Try one of these homemade cereal recipes: Whole Ancient Grain Baby Cereal or Strawberry Quinoa CerealMeat
Yes, you can even puree meat for your baby using a food mill or blender. Cook the meat to well-done before pureeing (but avoid luncheon, cured, and smoked meats at this stage due to the high salt and additive content).9
Try one of these meat based baby food recipes: Avocado and Chopped Chicken or Ginger Carrot, Sweet Potato Mash and Lean Beef
If you have questions on how to make these recipes, or are looking for more ideas, reach out to our team of registered dietitian nutritionists and lactation consultants for free! They’re here to help on our free to live chat from Monday through Friday, from 8am–6pm (ET). Chat now!Tips for preparing homemade baby foodAvoid adding salt or sugar to baby food
Our little one’s food preferences are formed early in life, so avoiding or severely limiting these strong added flavors before the age of one is important. In fact, the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for American recommends no added sugar at all before the age of 2 years.12
Additionally, you want your baby to experience and get used to the true flavors of food so that they are more likely to accept them in the future!11
Read more: Minimizing Added SugarFind the right texture for baby’s puree
Find the right consistency for your purees. Most babies start with thinner purees and work their way up to thicker ones as they learn to manage food in their mouth and then swallow.
- If you need to thin your puree for a younger baby, try adding reserved cooking water, no-salt-added veggie stock, prepared formula, or breastmilk.
- If you need to thicken up your puree for an older baby, it can sometimes be as simple as adding less liquid. You can also try adding baby cereal, plain whole milk yogurt, wheat germ, mashed low-sodium cottage cheese, mashed banana, pureed sweet potato, or pureed tofu.
Note that food textures can – and often do – change in the freezer. For example, certain fruits and vegetables like blueberries, pears, and eggplant contain a lot of water and can become quite runny when thawed. You may need to tinker with the consistency either before or after freezing some of these homemade purees.Advance textures when your baby is ready
Advancing textures steadily as your baby is ready will help develop their oral motor skills as well as prepare them to be more adventurous eaters.11
Start with thinner purees and then move to thicker purees over several weeks as your baby’s chewing and swallowing skills becomes more coordinated.
Once your little one can handle thick purees, it’s time to move onto lumpy purees as they prepare for soft solids.
Read more: Introducing Solids: Different Approaches and StrategiesStoring your homemade baby food
After making a batch of baby food, either use the food right away or freeze it in small portions in an ice cube tray. Once frozen, pop out and place into a freezer-safe air-tight bag to help save room in your freezer. Be sure to label the bag with type of food and the date it was made.
For more information: How to Store Baby FoodLet’s Chat!
We know parenting often means sleepless nights, stressful days, and countless questions and confusion, and we want to support you in your feeding journey and beyond.
Our Happy Baby Experts are a team of lactation consultants and registered dietitian nutritionists certified in infant and maternal nutrition – and they’re all moms, too, which means they’ve been there and seen that. They’re here to help on our free, live chat platform Monday through Friday, from 8am–6pm (ET). Chat Now!
Read more about the experts that help write our content!
For more on this topic, check out the following articles:
Introducing Solids – Signs of Readiness
Introducing Major Food Allergens to your Infant
Introducing Solids: Baby Led Weaning
Vegetables and fruits for the baby. When and what to give?
Babies grow fast and therefore need a lot of nutrients. By the age of 6 months, usually, the baby receives everything he needs with his mother's milk or formula. But this is only up to 6 months of age, and then, according to WHO recommendations, the child's diet should be supplemented with complementary foods.
The first foods offered to a child at 6 months of age may be cereal, vegetable or fruit puree.
Regarding the introduction of vegetables and fruits, there are different opinions about what is better to give first: vegetables or fruits.
Vegetables or fruits?
Pediatricians often recommend starting your baby's introduction with mashed vegetables, because fruit is sweeter and some children may then refuse vegetables. In fact, it is very individual. An important argument in favor of vegetables is the fact that fruits are not the main meal and, therefore, they can be offered as a snack, dessert, or added to cereals and sour-milk products.
But vegetable puree is introduced into the baby's diet as a main dish, to which meat will be added later.
To get the most out of new foods, no matter what kind, introduce them to your baby in the right way.
How to choose fruits and vegetables for a baby?
For the first acquaintance, it is advisable to use the vegetables of our climatic zone: zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, pumpkin, potatoes, squash. Give preference to seasonal vegetables. You need to start with one type of vegetable, and only after the child has received each of them separately, you can mix them.
Pediatricians recommend apples, peaches, apricots, plums as the first fruits.
What is better to choose: mashed potatoes in jars or cook it yourself?
There is no unequivocal opinion on this issue either among doctors or mothers.
Many people find that homemade vegetable or fruit puree is healthier because it retains nutrients, vitamins and minerals better.
Another part of the experts argue that modern growing conditions do not guarantee the safety of fruits and vegetables for young children, as they may contain a large amount of nitrates or pesticides.
Unfortunately, if vegetables and fruits are not from your own garden and you do not know where and how they were grown and how they were processed, then it is better to give preference to children's vegetable or fruit puree from jars.
Preference is given to industrial purees even when the beginning of acquaintance with vegetables and fruits falls outside the season of vegetables and fruits. If winter and zucchini are only imported, and apples have been stored in vegetable stores for quite a long time, then they are unlikely to be safe for a small child.
According to modern requirements for baby food products, vegetables and fruits for baby foods of industrial production are grown in special raw materials zones without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Modern production technologies make it possible to preserve vitamins and minerals as much as possible and provide the necessary consistency, in accordance with the characteristics of the digestive system and chewing apparatus of the baby.
Industrial purees also allow you to choose your baby's favorite vegetable or fruit, regardless of the season.
If you have your own garden and grow organically, you can confidently prepare vegetable and fruit dishes at home.
How to prepare vegetables and fruits for a baby at home?
When preparing vegetables and fruits, observe the following rules:
- select only good, undamaged, fresh vegetables and fruits
- Wash them thoroughly before cooking
- cook just before feeding your baby.
For a child of the first year of life, vegetables are boiled or cooked in a double boiler without salt and pepper. Grind with a blender or carefully grind to a homogeneous creamy consistency. If the puree is too thick, you can add a little vegetable broth in which the vegetables were boiled.
Vegetable puree is given warm, the optimum temperature of the puree for feeding is 37 - 38ºС.
Fruit can be given fresh or baked in the oven. But like vegetables, fruits should be chopped and peeled.
Fruit can be grated on a plastic grater or chopped in a blender. The grater or blender must be poured over with boiling water before preparing the puree!
When the child has 6-8 teeth, you can give a piece of fruit and he will eat it on his own.
Remember not to chase exotic fruits as they can cause an allergic reaction in your baby. Useful substances are better absorbed from fruits that are traditional for our climatic zone.
How many fruits and vegetables does a baby need?
A child can eat only a certain amount of vegetable and fruit puree per day in order to avoid indigestion. This amount depends on the age of the baby.
Approximate recommended daily intake of vegetable puree is
50-100g for a 6 month old baby, 150g for a 7 month old baby, 170-180g for a 8-9 month old baby, and from 10 to 12 months the amount of vegetable puree can be increased up to 200 g *.
Your pediatrician will help you determine the right amount of puree for your baby.
But, regardless of the age of the child, acquaintance with each new product should begin with no more than 1 teaspoon and gradually increase to the recommended age norm!
A child needs 2 times less fruit purees than vegetables.
Children at 6 months can consume 40-50g of fruit puree, at 7-8 months - 50-70g, at 9-12 months - 80-100g*.
What to combine vegetables and fruits with?
Vegetable and fruit purees are low-protein complementary foods, therefore they are given as an independent dish for no more than 2 weeks, then it is necessary to enrich them with high-protein foods.
Pediatricians recommend combining vegetable puree with meat supplements, thanks to which the baby will receive a rational, easily digestible lunch.
Fruit is good to combine with soft cheese, if it has already been introduced into the baby's diet, or added to milk or dairy-free cereals.
TM "Malyatko" offers different flavors of vegetable and fruit purees. Our purees are made from vegetables and fruits grown in our own fields in compliance with all the requirements of organic farming.
They are ready to use, so you will have more time to spend with your baby.
Malyatko - the basis of health for life!
*Clinical protocol for the care of a healthy child under 3 years of age
Homemade baby puree: recipes
Homemade fruit and vegetable puree: cooking secrets
Vegetable and fruit puree is often the first meal of the baby after breast milk or formula, so many mothers prefer to cook it on their own. Although modern manufacturers convince us that baby food is devoid of preservatives and harmful additives, fresh vegetables and fruits are much healthier, especially when it comes to infant nutrition. Yes, and cooking baby puree at home is not so difficult.
Vegetables or fruits?
Let's try to make baby puree for our beloved baby. Despite the fact that pediatricians of the last century recommended starting complementary foods with fruits, it is better to first introduce the child to vegetables - modern doctors and nutritionists have come to this conclusion. Boiled vegetables do not irritate the gastrointestinal tract, are better absorbed, satisfy hunger, do not cause allergies and increased gas formation. In addition, vegetables do not contain fructose, which irritates the pancreas. And one more weighty argument in favor of the fact that it is better to start with vegetables - fruits are tastier, and if the baby tries them first, he will refuse vegetables, because they will seem to him more insipid.
How to prepare baby vegetable puree
What can baby puree be made of? The ideal puree for the first feeding is from cauliflower or zucchini. A little later, you can introduce pumpkin, broccoli, carrots, potatoes and green peas. Before cooking, vegetables are washed well, peeled, cut into pieces and cooked - steamed, in the oven or in the usual way, in water. The first two methods are preferable because oven roasting and steaming preserve the vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and natural color in the vegetables. And most importantly - such vegetables are much tastier. Some nutritionists recommend boiling vegetables with their skins on before peeling them, so choose your own cooking method.
If you do have to cook vegetables in a saucepan, use an enamel pot, add less water and dip the vegetables into boiling water. Boil until soft, but do not overcook vegetables and fruits, otherwise they will become tasteless and lose a lot of vitamins. Ready vegetables are chopped with a blender until smooth and slightly diluted with water, vegetable broth, breast milk or mixture to a gruel state, since the child does not yet know how to digest thick food. Small pieces of vegetables in puree sometimes cause the baby to refuse to eat, so the knives in the blender should be well sharpened, and if there is no technique, you can grind the vegetables through a sieve. Salt and spices are usually not added to baby vegetable puree, and if the baby is more than 6 months old, you can put a little butter in the puree.
A few rules for making baby puree at home
- Use only fresh vegetables and fruits.
- Water for cooking vegetables must be filtered or bottled.
- If you are using frozen foods, choose only whole fruits and vegetables as they retain the most nutrients.
- All utensils for preparing baby food should be perfectly clean, so if the knife falls on the floor, it should be washed well. Also, the presence of pets in the kitchen during the cooking process is not allowed.
- Avoid high-nitrate vegetables and fruits such as spinach, lettuce, beetroot, melon, and watermelon in infants' diets.
- Store-bought vegetables are recommended to be soaked in water to remove nitrates: 1-2 hours for this, up to 24 hours for potatoes.
- Mix sour-tasting fruits and berries with sweet fruits - for example, blackcurrant goes well with a banana or pear. Sour puree is unlikely to please the baby.
- Give your child only fresh food, but it is better to eat yesterday's puree from the refrigerator yourself.
DIY fruit puree for children
Children are more likely to eat fruit puree, as fruits are tastier and sweeter. Fruits contain a large amount of vitamins, minerals, trace elements, fiber and antioxidants, so they are very useful for a growing body. However, fruits are strong allergens, especially berries, bananas, pomegranates and apricots, so they should be given with caution, watching the child's reaction. The most low-allergenic fruits are apples and pears, so it is better to start complementary foods with them, and then introduce all other fruits. First, the baby is fed with a one-component puree made from only one product, and then you can mix different vegetables and fruits, and not only among themselves. Very tasty combinations of fruits and vegetables, such as apples and zucchini, pumpkins and pears.
Fruit must be of good quality, without damage, ripe and juicy, and the rules for preparing fruits do not differ from the rules for cooking vegetables. Naturally, fruit puree is not sweetened with honey and sugar - the later the child learns the taste of sugar, the stronger his health will be.
Aromatic pumpkin puree
Babies enjoy eating pumpkin because of its pleasant sweetish taste, besides pumpkin is very healthy. It contains a whole storehouse of various vitamins, including vitamin T, which normalizes the metabolism in the body. For pumpkin puree, small pumpkins are suitable, since large fruits are not as tasty and difficult to peel.
Cut the pumpkin in half, and then into small pieces, one or two of which (depending on the appetite of the crumbs) cut into cubes. Boil the pumpkin in a double boiler or in water for 20 minutes, while warm, beat with a blender to a smooth puree and dilute if necessary with water or a mixture. Add oil and salt depending on the age of the child.
Gentle Broccoli Puree
One of my favorite homemade baby puree recipes is broccoli. This cabbage is extremely useful because it contains potassium, iron, calcium and other valuable substances. It has much more vitamin C than lemon, and the reason for its nutritional value is its high protein content.
Separate the broccoli into florets, wash thoroughly and steam for 20 minutes. Cabbage cooks faster in water - fresh broccoli will take 7 minutes, and frozen - about 15 minutes. Broccoli puree does not need much water, it should lightly coat the vegetables. After the cabbage becomes soft, chop it in a blender or pass through a sieve. If you're mashing for kids older than a year old, be sure to add butter - the little ones will gobble up broccoli on both cheeks!
How to make baby pear puree at home
Pear is a very delicate, tasty and healthy fruit that rarely causes intolerance. In addition to the high vitamin value, the pear has other beneficial properties - it facilitates digestion and removes toxins from the body.
For baby food, choose green pears to reduce the risk of allergies, which are rare among babies. Peel the fruits from the peel and core with seeds, and then stew the pear in a bowl with a thick bottom in a small amount of water for 15 minutes. Let the pear cool slightly and puree it in a blender with a little of the remaining pear broth. For large kids, fruits can not be boiled, but add half a teaspoon of natural honey to the puree.
Zucchini and apple puree
Little gourmets will love this delicious puree, besides, zucchini is considered the most hypoallergenic vegetables, which, due to their high potassium content, have a beneficial effect on the heart. Apples contain iodine, iron and phosphorus, and due to the high concentration of vitamin C, apples help in the prevention of colds and viral infections.
Wash the zucchini and apples well, de-seed them, cut into pieces and cook in a pot for about 20 minutes, considering that the zucchini will cook 5 minutes faster. By the way, apples are steamed for 15 minutes, zucchini - 10 minutes. Next, vegetables and fruits are chopped in a blender, mixed and brought to a boil. For allergic children, this is the best side dish!
Sometimes you can pamper your baby with exotic fruits - for example, make mango puree. This is a very delicate fruit with an original taste, containing 12 amino acids and improving sleep.
Choose only ripe fruits that are soft and red-yellow in color. Peel the mango from a thick skin and a large bone, put the pulp in a blender, add 2 tbsp. l. water and mash it, and then heat it in a saucepan for several minutes. For a baby up to a year old, it is better to give mashed potatoes with heat treatment to facilitate digestion, and older children can be fed raw mangoes.
Make normal potato puree without oil. Peel the carrots, grate them and stew them with butter and vegetable broth - about 1 tsp is required for 200 g of carrots. butter and 150 g of broth. When the carrot becomes very soft, wipe it through a sieve, and then put it on a plate, put mashed potatoes on the second half. Let the child choose whether to mix two types of puree for him or eat separately!
Pumpkin and apple puree
This sweet, sugar-free pumpkin-apple puree, cooked in a double boiler, is suitable for children who are already accustomed to “adult” food and are able to perceive a new unusual dish. It is better to take a pumpkin with a gray or green skin and with bright pulp - such fruits contain more vitamins and other useful substances. Apples are green because they have fewer allergens.
Cut pumpkin and apple flesh without peel and seeds into pieces, place in a double boiler and cook for 20 minutes. Grind pumpkin, apples and raisins in a blender or by hand with a pusher if the child has already learned to chew. They say that this puree is very good for skin and hair, and you can check the truth of this statement yourself if you start feeding this dish to your baby.