This is part one of a mulit-part series on healthy baby food options. Be sure to come back and check out the rest of the series, which will include some awesome reviews & giveaways!
Making homemade baby food is the healthiest, and most affordable way to feed your baby. I started making homemade baby food when our first child was born (12 years ago) due to the lack of healthy baby food options available at the time. At first, making homemade baby food sounded like a daunting task, but after giving it a try I learned baby food is just as easy to make as any other meal, if not easier! Preparing homemade baby food is also the eco-friendly choice, as it doesn’t require commercial processing or packaging, and can be made with fresh, locally purchased organic produce. The benefits of making fresh baby food are many, so let’s get started!
Tools & Storage
There are a few simple tools you’ll need to get started making your own homemade baby food, many of which you may already have in your kitchen:
Blender or Baby Food Mill- You don’t need anything fancy to puree healthy homemade baby food for your little one. A regular blender or inexpensive baby food mill will work just fine.
Storage/Freezer Trays- The easiest way to prepare baby food is in small frozen batches. There are many baby food storage options available in stores and online, but several BPA free ice-cube trays work just as well.
Tip- You don’t need to buy a ton of ice-cube or storage trays. Just buy a few, and then empty cubes into a freezer bag or container after they are frozen.
How To Make Homemade Baby Cereal
Many parents choose to introduce baby cereal as their little one’s first solid food & continue to use it as a base mixed in with fruits, veggies, yogurt etc. Making your own baby cereal allows you to ensure your baby is getting a natural cereal from unrefined whole grains. These complex carbohydrates are a good source of trace minerals, such as zinc, magnesium, selenium and others. Instead of starting your baby on commercial baby cereal, you can give him/her nutritious homemade baby cereal made from whole grain brown rice instead. Just make sure your baby is at least 6 months old before starting him/her on this homemade baby cereal as younger babies digestive systems are not mature enough to digest the whole grains.
First measure a cup of water to boil on the stove.
While the water is coming to a boil, measure 1/4 cup of brown rice into your blender.
Grind rice for a full two minutes for younger babies, less to make a chunkier consistency for older babies & toddlers. (Warning, it’s noisy!)
When the cup of water is boiling, turn the heat down to the lowest setting & sprinkle brown rice into the water while stirring briskly with a wire whisk.
Cover pot and keep on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently with wire whisk to avoid lumps & scorching on bottom.
If the cereal is too thick, you can thin it by adding a little breastmilk or formula.
This recipe makes a little over a cup of baby cereal. I divide it into 3-4 servings, refrigerate & we are set for the day! I store the cereal in single serving glass microwavable bowls, so all I have to do when the baby is hungry is warm, and serve. If you prefer to make larger batches, this recipe will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days, and can also be frozen.
You can also make homemade baby cereal from other grains…
Millet- 3 tablespoons ground millet to 1 cup of boiling water.
Barley- 1/4 ground barley to 1 cup boiling water.
Oatmeal- Use the “old fashion rolled oat flakes” (not the quick cooking or instant variety) and add 1/4 ground oats to 1 cup boiling water.
How To Make Homemade Vegetable Baby Food
Making baby food from fresh, organic veggies ensures your little one gets the best nutrients possible, without any yucky preservatives.
Steam veggies until tender. I do not suggest boiling veggies as doing so means many of the precious nutrients & vitamins will be absorbed by the water, and end up going down the drain, literally!
Puree steamed veggies in blender with a small amount of water so they aren’t too thick for baby to swallow. You may want to start with a couple tablespoons of water, and gradually add more while blending until you get just the right consistency. Younger babies need a very thin consistency, if it’s too thick your baby will gag. As baby gets older, you can gradually start making foods a little thicker.
Spoon pureed veggies into ice-cube tray, and freeze.
When you are ready to feed your baby, run one or two cubes of the tray under hot water, pop out the cubes & microwave in glass or ceramic bowl until thawed.
I usually steam enough veggies to fill 1 freezer tray at a time, for example, one large sweet potato, or of baby carrots is just the right amount . After you make a few batches, you’ll start to get the hang of exactly how much you need to make of each veggie to fill a freezer tray. As baby gets older, you can also experiment with making vegetable blends using two or more different veggies.
How To Make Homemade Fruit Baby Food
Fruits are even easier to make than veggies because most do not require steaming. Simply wash, peel (if needed), puree and freeze! You may need to add a bit of water in with the fruit when blending for younger babies, and as your little one gets older, you may not need to blend fruits at all. Once my little ones were comfortable with thicker consistencies, I fork mashed most of their fruits, or diced them into bite size pieces.
Making Homemade Baby Food Doesn’t Have To Be All Or Nothing!
There will be times when using homemade baby food just isn’t practical, and there’s nothing wrong with feeding your little one commercial baby food when you need to. Making homemade baby food certainly doesn’t have to be all of nothing. There are plenty of times when I’m thankful to have the convenience and portability of commercial baby food to fall back on.
I wouldn’t feed my family fast food every day, it’s not healthy, and it’s also too expensive, but there are times when we are out & about, when picking up fast food is just more practical. We don’t get fast food very often, but it’s there when we need it. I look at commercial baby food the same way- it’s not good to feed it to my baby every day, and it’s also quite expensive. I don’t use commercial baby food every day, but I’m glad it’s there when I need it!
Just like some fast food choices are healthier than others, some commercial baby foods are better than the rest. In parts 2 & three of the Healthy Baby Food Options series, I’m going to share two amazing commercial baby food brands that are wonderful to have on deck when you need them. Come back over the next few days to learn which brands are nutritionally superior, and enter to win some of the best commercial baby food available for your little one!
Have you ever made homemade baby food before, or are you ready to give it a try? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
If you have questions about making homemade baby food, leave me a comment and I’d be happy to answer!
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