As my baby girl approached her six-month birthday I began to think more seriously about what kind of solid foods she would eat, and if I would cook baby food. Today, more companies are making organic baby food, but I still thought homemade, fresh food would be tastier and healthier.
As someone who is already an avid DIY-er, it didn’t long me to decide I would cook baby food from scratch. I’ve had a few other moms (and expectant moms!) ask me about how I cook baby food so I wanted to write this post to share some tips.
How to Cook Baby Food
First of all, it’s been extremely easy and fun to cook baby food! Second, I have to attribute most of my education on how to cook baby food from one book – The Wholesome Baby Food Guide. Initially I checked out several baby food books from the library. While there are many wonderful resources on how to cook baby food, I found the Wholesome Baby Food Guide to be my favorite.
The book is easy to read, has a helpful introduction and even includes reference sheets such as what foods are typically in season at what time, age appropriate foods and sample menus. The book is based off the Wholesome Baby Food website, but I really liked having the book so I could write in it, highlight recipes and so I wouldn’t have to look every recipe up on my smart phone.
Other essential tools I use to cook baby food include:
- Blender or Food Processor: We have the NutriBullet and it has worked wonderfully! Best of all you do not need a specific kitchen appliance just for baby food. We continue to use the NutriBullet for making smoothies, chopping nuts and more.
- Silicone Ice Cube Trays: I would recommend the 1 oz portion silicone ice cube trays. The flexible trays make it simple to remove frozen cubes of baby food. Each 1 oz cube is the equivalent of 2 Tablespoons, making it easy to portion out food for your baby. I found some trays at Marshalls. You can also find them online. I recommend having at least two to three trays.
- Slider Quart Freezer Bags: After experimenting with a few other bags I found quart size freezer bags worked best. Each bag will hold 20 cubes or 20 ounces of baby food. They also stack nicely in the freezer. I have not had any leaks with the slider lock and I have even washed and reused some bags.
- Sharpie Marker: These markers are helpful with labeling the bags after you cook baby food. I label each bag with the contents and date I cooked it. Carrots and sweet potato look eerily similar once frozen!
- Narrow Spoon: This last item isn’t necessarily essential but it worked well for me to have a spoon that fit into the cubes. Our regular spoons were a bit sloppy. I found the cubes freeze best (and pop out easy) when they are not overflowing. We had grapefruit spoons already and that’s now my go-to spoon for scooping the baby food into the ice cube trays.
In general I would advise following recipes from The Wholesome Baby Food Guide, or any other baby food book you decide on. The tools above are what I used to refine my process. Other recommendations I have for when you cook baby food are:
- Buy fruits and vegetables when they are on season and on sale for the biggest savings.
- Cook several foods at once. This was most time efficient for me.
- Make sure cubes are fully frozen (sometimes overnight) before placing them in freezer bags.
- Avoid overfilling the cubes. I usually try to make 20 cubes to have a full bag of baby food. I will feed my baby any leftovers within two to three days of cooking.
- As baby gets older, make the purees thicker. You can puree half the mixture to give it more of a “Stage 3” texture. Another option is to puree the food for only a few seconds.
- Don’t add too much water to your purees! You can add more if needed, but it’s hard to take away. Juicy fruits such as pears and peaches usually do not need added water.
- As the book explains, you can try to freeze grains but it did not work well for me. I cook baby food cereal (rice, barley, oatmeal, etc.) once a week on Sundays so it’s fresh.
I could probably talk all day about my experience with learning to cook baby food, but those are just a few things I have learned from trial and error. My baby is getting more and more comfortable with eating table foods so I know our homemade baby food days are limited. But for now I am continuing to enjoy the convenience of pulling baby food cubes out of the freezer for her meals!
Do you have any questions on how to cook baby food?