Baby Food: Making Your Own
I want to make my own food for my baby. Isn’t that healthier than buying food?
It is hard to know if your homemade baby food is healthier than store-bought food. However, when you make it at home, you know exactly what you are feeding your baby. Making baby food also can save you money. Making baby food is a great idea, but you need to prepare, store, and reheat baby food safely to prevent foodborne illness.
When preparing food for infants, a smooth pureed consistency is important (the consistency of smooth applesauce or thin hot cereal). To achieve this consistency, you’ll need to use a blender, food mill, or food grinder for some foods. Other foods will mash well with a fork, adding liquid if needed to achieve the right consistency.
How can I make baby food?
Making baby food is easy. Place cooked meats, well-cooked vegetables, or soft canned fruits in a clean food grinder or blender. Use the equipment as directed by the manufacturer. You may need to add a small amount of liquid to meats or vegetables to achieve a pureed consistency. You don’t need to add salt, sugar, or other seasonings to baby food.
Mash soft foods, such as ripe bananas, well-cooked potatoes or sweet potatoes, and hard-cooked eggs, with a fork.
How can I tell if my homemade baby food is safe?
Food safety is critical when making food for baby. Before preparing food, thoroughly wash and rinse all food, countertops, and equipment with very hot water. Dirty equipment could cause your baby to get a foodborne illness.
To prevent choking, thoroughly wash all foods, peel fruits and vegetables, and remove seeds. When using meats, do not puree skin, bones, and tough cuts of meat that can not be made into a smooth consistency.
As baby gets older, you can gradually make foods with more consistency. Watch your baby closely to make sure he/she can chew and swallow every change in consistency without any trouble.
Are there any foods I should not feed my baby?
Yes. Infants need only breast milk or formula for the first 4-6 months of life. From this age until about 11 months, infants should have only smooth, pureed foods that do not require chewing. Most experts recommend introducing foods to baby using the following guidelines:
- 4-6 months: Smooth cereals, such as thin rice cereal and thin oatmeal
- 7 months: Pureed vegetables
- 8 months: Pureed fruits
- 10 months: Pureed meats and mashed egg yolks
- 10-12 months: Yogurt and cheese
- 11-12 months: Soft table foods
- 12 months: Whole milk
How long can I keep homemade baby food in my refrigerator?
If cooked baby food is not eaten right away, it can be safely stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Use uncooked foods in 1 day. To keep longer, freeze pureed foods in small amounts, using ice cube trays or other small containers); thaw as needed. Follow a tried-and-true food safety rule regarding whether or not stored food is safe: “If in doubt, throw it out.”
How do I reheat baby food?
Reheat food in a water-tight container in a pan of hot water on a stove. You also can defrost or reheat food in a microwave. Use caution when reheating, especially in a microwave; make sure you carefully reheat, stirring food well during the reheating process to avoid “hot spots.” Let food cool to a comfortable temperature before feeding your baby.
National Network for Child Care. Making baby food. Available at: http://www.nncc.org/Nutrition/make.babyfd.html. Accessed December 27, 2007.
University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Bulletin #4309: making your own baby food. Available at: http://www.umext.maine.edu/onlinepubs/PDFpubs/4309.pdf. Accessed December 27, 2007.
US Food and Drug Administration. Food safety for moms-to-be. Available at: http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~pregnant/once.html. Accessed December 27, 2007.
Review Date 1/08