Making your baby’s food is actually a simple process. My Dad made homemade baby food purees for me.
So, when it came time to introduce solids to my son, I had always planned on making homemade food for him.
My Dad talks about how easy and enjoyable the DIY baby food-making process was… So I went into it very optimistic…
And, believe it or not, it was super simple.
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Why Is Homemade Baby Food Better?
Ingredients And Nutrients
Pre-made baby food can have preservatives and even added sugar or salt for taste.
Even though many baby foods only contain whole ingredients (example: only carrots and water), the process that is used to preserve that baby food (so it can sit for months on a shelf instead of having to be refrigerated and used in a few days) is so hot that nutrients are lost in the process.
By making your own baby food with fresh fruit and vegetables, you know exactly what the ingredients are, and can take steps to preserve as many nutrients as possible.
Cost Of Baby Food
In general, pre-made baby food costs about $0.25 per oz.
Fresh produce, on the other hand, costs around $0.06 per oz.
So, if your baby eats 6 ounces of food every day you will spend on average:
- $547.50 on commercial baby food
- Or $131.40 on homemade baby food
That is a savings of $416.10 per year (per baby!).
When To Introduce Solids To Your Baby
Because each baby is different, it is important to follow these steps and cues to decide when the baby should start eating.
- Talk with your pediatrician. At your 4 and 6 month checkups, your pediatrician can discuss whether your baby is ready to start solid foods, which foods to start with, how much, and how often.
- Your baby can sit with little or no support.
- Your baby has good head control.
- Your baby opens their mouth and expresses interest in food when it is offered.
When offering solid foods, you can stick with just purees, do baby-led weaning, or a combination of both methods. Read about how I incorporated purees with finger foods.
Which Foods To Give To Baby First
While the CDC does not give a recommendation for the specific fruits and vegetables you should give to your baby, they do advise that you offer pureed foods that are very smooth in texture.
My step-by-step guide will show you exactly how to achieve this smooth texture for fruit and vegetable purees.
When you discuss starting solid foods with your pediatrician, find out which foods they recommend starting with, and how often to give them.
For example, my pediatrician recommended starting with baby cereal (oats or rice) mixed with some breastmilk or formula at 4 months of age. We started solids so early because my son had reflux, and our pediatrician thought the addition of solid foods would help ease his symptoms. And it did!
We supplemented the baby cereal until his 6-month appointment. At his 6 month appointment, we discussed introducing new foods with the pediatrician. Before long, we were in the full swing of solid foods and even started baby-led weaning (BLW).
Pro Tip: As your little one is starting solids, think of bibs that will grow to meet their needs (especially if you’re thinking of BLW down the road). You can read my full post on how to find the best bibs here.
How Much Should You Feed Your Baby?
I might sound like a broken record, but if you aren’t sure check with your pediatrician.
Gradually your baby will start to drink less formula or breastmilk, and eat more solid foods.
Each baby is different.
Once you get the go-ahead to start solids, give your baby 1-2 tablespoons of food 1-2 times a day until their tummy adjusts.
After that, try to get your baby on the same meal schedule as the rest of the family:
Breakfast, lunch, (maybe a snack), and dinner.
Let your baby tell you when they are full! Don’t try to force your baby to take extra bites of food. Let them listen to their bodies and decide whether or not to eat more.
On the flip side, if you finish your bowl of 2 tablespoons and your baby seems to be wanting more (reaching for the spoon, fussing, opening their mouth, etc.), go ahead and get them more.
My philosophy is that you can never overfeed your baby with healthy fruits and vegetables, so let them have as much as they want!
What Not To Feed Your Baby
Before we get too far into it…
There are some foods that are not safe for babies.
Foods that are not safe to give to babies are honey, cow’s milk, and choking hazards like nuts, seeds, raisins, hard candy, grapes, hard raw vegetables, popcorn, peanut butter*, hotdogs, and other cylindrical-shaped food that can be choking hazards.
*Peanut butter can be safely given to babies under the guidance of your pediatrician (because peanuts are a common allergen) as long as it is spread extremely thin (think a pea-sized amount spread on a quarter piece of toast).
Baby Food Allergies
It is important to introduce foods one at a time to your baby in case of allergies.
I was more cautious than most when introducing new foods and would only offer 1 new food every 7 days to be able to detect an allergic reaction.
After about a month I started introducing foods closer together around 4-5 days apart.
I would recommend waiting at least 4 days because sometimes the allergies or sensitivities aren’t obvious.
For example, we found that when my son eats spinach he gets a diaper rash!
You should also consult with your pediatrician and make a plan for introducing allergenic foods.
These common allergens are:
- Tree nuts
The Difference Between Stage 1, 2, And 3 Baby Foods
The terms Stage 1, 2, 3 (and some brands even have 4) refer to the number of ingredients, texture, and consistency of baby foods.
Any single food can be made into Stage 1, 2, or 3 purees by following the directions below.
Baby food stages are not universal.
Different brands label their products differently.
Usually, these brands also define what their labels mean and the approximate age group they are targeting.
Generally, here are the differences between the stages:
Stage 1 Baby Food
Single-ingredient. Pureed to a silky consistency. Soupy: drips off a spoon. No chunks.
Stage 1 baby food is best for babies who are just starting solids (around 6 months).
Stage 2 Baby Food
Single-ingredient or combination of ingredients. Pureed, strained, or mashed with a thicker consistency than Stage 1. Mushy: cannot be picked up with a fork, but doesn’t drip off the spoon. No chunks.
Stage 2 baby food is best for babies who have mastered Stage 1 baby food (around 7-8 months).
Stage 3 Baby Food
Single-ingredient or combination of ingredients. Mashed. Mushy: cannot be picked up with a fork, but doesn’t drip off the spoon. Extremely small chunks for the baby to gum in their mouth.
Stage 3 baby food is for babies who have mastered Stage 2 baby food (around 9-12 months).
Stage 4 Baby Food
Single-ingredient or combination of ingredients. Finger foods. Table food is cut into small pieces to reduce the risk of choking.
Stage 4 baby food is best for older babies who have mastered stage 3 baby food and are comfortable chewing small chunks (12 months and older).
Even if your baby does not have any teeth, they can start to ‘chew’ soft chunks with their gums. Start them off with lumpy bananas, avocados, and mashed potatoes.
Which Baby Foods To Feed Baby By Age: A List Of Fruits And Vegetables
You could also ask your pediatrician for recommendations on which foods they would recommend starting first.
For example, my pediatrician recommended starting yellow and orange vegetables before green ones, just because the taste is a little milder!
To be clear, the order of the foods listed below is just a suggestion, there is not a specific order to the foods you give your baby.
It is how you prepare the foods that are the most important!
Reminder: You should prepare your baby’s foods by their age and skills.
6 months and under: Stage 1 Baby Food
7-8 months (after Stage 1 is mastered): Stage 2
9-12 months (after Stage 2 is mastered): Stage 3
12+ months (after Stage 3 is mastered): Stage 4
First Foods To Introduce Around 6 Months
Fruits: Banana, apple, avocado, pears.
Vegetables: green beans, sweet potato, butternut squash, lentils.
Other: single-grain cereals (rice, oat, barley, etc.), chicken.
Baby Foods For 6-8 Months
Fruits: apricots, mango, nectarines, peaches, plums, prunes.
Vegetables: carrots, parsnips, pumpkin, peas, squash (zucchini).
Other: plain yogurt, pork, beef.
Baby Foods For 9-12 Months
Fruits: Blueberries, cantaloupe, cherries, citrus*, coconut, cranberries, figs, grapes, kiwi, papaya, persimmons, strawberries.
Vegetables: asparagus, broccoli, beans, beets, cucumber, eggplant, leeks, onions, peppers, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes
Other: pasta, cheese
*Can be hard on little tummies.
Step-By-Step: How To Make Baby Food Mashes And Purees
Everything I know about making baby food I learned from my Dad.
Like I said earlier, it is really a straightforward process.
The hardest parts for me were: having a clean kitchen to avoid contaminants and storing the food.
I will give you extra tips and tricks to help with these steps from what I learned along the way.
**You will note in this guide I have not included recipes for Stage 1, 2, or 3 meat. I chose baby-led weaning for introducing meat.
1. Start With A Clean Environment
Food safety is a super important key when you cook food for your baby. The more sterile the environment, the fewer chances of contaminating the food with harmful bacteria.
Clean all work surfaces you will be using to prepare the food.
Pro Tip: Make baby food in batches. I would make a 1 to 2 month supply of several different foods all at once and then store them in the freezer. I did this every few weeks so that I wasn’t constantly preparing my kitchen.
2. Decide On Whether To Boil, Steam, Roast Your Produce, Or Keep It Raw
In many cases, this is a personal decision.
Pro: It is the easiest method, as you just drop everything in a pot of boiling water. It is very difficult to burn or overcook your ingredients using this method.
Con: Some of the nutrients might be lost in the boiling process.
Pro: Just like boiling, it is very difficult to burn anything with a steamer! You retain more nutrients.
Con: It takes a LONG time to steam fruits and vegetables.
Pro: Like steaming, you won’t lose any of the nutrients.
Con: You can easily char or burn your ingredients leaving an acrid taste that babies do not like.
Leaving Your Produce Raw
Soft foods that can be easily mashed like ripe bananas or ripe avocados can be blended and strained raw.
Soft fruits and veggies with very high water content like cucumbers, melons, and berries can also be blended and strained raw.
As long as you are able to achieve the stage 1 texture and consistency (see above) you do not need to cook your produce.
Note: raw produce is typically harder for little tummies to digest.
Pros: It’s much faster to prep these baby foods
Cons: You will likely need to run everything through a strainer at least once to eliminate ALL of the chunks. Raw foods also tend to be a little harder on a little baby’s stomach. Aim to introduce raw foods sparingly.
3. Have All Of Your Equipment Ready
Making baby food (especially if you make it in big batches) requires a lot of equipment.
Having everything ready ahead of time will allow you to make the food and store it quickly to keep it fresh.
These are links to the exact equipment that I used to make my baby food.
You will need:
- A colander
- A peeler
- A knife
- A cutting board
- A pot to boil water and a steamer insert (optional), or a baking sheet
- A blender or food processor
- A strainer (optional)
- Ice cube trays (optional)
- Storage containers (see more options below)
Making DIY Homemade Baby Food: Step-By-Step Tutorial
Now that you’ve cleaned and prepared your cooking area and gathered your ingredients, the hard part is over!
Actually making the baby food is simple and most fruits and vegetables follow the same steps.
This step-by-step homemade stage 1 baby food tutorial is for pureed carrots, but the same steps can be repeated for almost any fresh foods.
1. Wash and peel the carrots.
2. Roast until fork tender. Then move to step 4.
2. Chop the carrots into chunks that are about the same size.
Pro Tip: smaller chunks take longer to cut but cook faster. Larger chunks are faster to cut but take longer to cook.
3. Boil or steam until fork tender (meaning you can easily stick a fork into the carrot with little or no pressure). If you are leaving your produce raw, skip this step.
4. Blend. Using a blender, immersion blender or food processor blend the chunks together.
Note: you could also use a ricer (potato masher) or a food mill to puree your baby’s food, but it might be too thick and chunky in texture. Ricers and food mills are better for stage 2 and 3 baby food.
Check for consistency.
If it meets a stage 1 baby food (soupy, silky, no chunks), CONGRATS! You are done and you have made your homemade puree for your baby! Move on to step 5 for storage
If your puree is too thick, add some breast milk, formula, or a small amount of bottled water little by little to thin it down.
Pro-Tip: My Dad always recommended erring on the side of a little thicker than a little thinner. Because, you can always add a little more breastmilk, formula, or bottled water before you serve it. It is more difficult to thicken baby food that is too soupy.
If your puree is chunky or has seeds in it (from berries for example), run it through a mesh strainer to get the right consistency.
Practice makes perfect!
Just like anything, the more you make the baby foods, the easier it will be to adjust the process to yield a silky, soupy, stage 1 baby food puree every time.
How To Keep And Store Your Baby Food
5. Store in single-serve airtight containers.
Fresh homemade baby food will last in the fridge for 48 hours.
If you have made more food than your baby will eat in 48 hours, you will need to freeze it.
6. Spoon the puree into ice cube trays, or freezer-safe single-serving containers.
The best way to freeze baby food is to put it in a clean ice cube tray. Then you have single-serving 1-1.5 oz cubes that you can heat as needed. Baby food will last up to 3 months in the freezer when properly stored.
7. Once frozen, remove the ice cubes and store them.
Use single-serving freezer-safe jars, freezer-safe reusable bags, or regular freezer-safe Ziploc bags. Make sure to write the ingredient(s) and the date that it was prepared on each. Discard any unused homemade baby food after 3 months.
Pro Tip: When homemade baby food is frozen, it is very common for ice crystals to form on the surface. This is just water content. It is not freezer burnt.
Make sure to store the food quickly, with labels, so that it doesn’t get contaminated and stays fresh as long as possible.
15 Easy Baby Food Recipes
Remember, stage 1 baby food is only 1 ingredient.
When your baby is ready to move on to stage 2 baby food, they are ready for mixtures and combinations of ingredients.
Pro Tip: I like to make and freeze all of my ingredients separately into ice cubes, and then defrost and mix combinations together when I am ready to serve. I learned this the HARD way by making a huge batch of apple-carrot puree, only to find out my son refused to eat anything with carrots in it!!
Popular Fruit Purees Combinations
Mix 1 tablespoon, or 1 ice cube of each ingredient together.
Apple + Blueberry
Banana + Strawberry
Kiwi + Mango
Peach + Cherry
Pear + Plum
Popular Vegetable-Only Baby Food Combinations
Mix 1 tablespoon, or 1 ice cube of each ingredient together.
Broccoli + Peas
Sweet potatos + Carrot
Pumpkin + Lentils
Purple Potato + Black Beans
Eggplant + Green Beans
Popular Fruit And Vegetable Baby Food Combinations
Mix 1 tablespoon, or 1 ice cube of each ingredient together.
Apple + Carrots
Spinach + Blueberries
Beats + Strawberries (make sure you have a stain-proof bib for this one!)
Sweet Potato + Pear
Butternut Squash + Peach
Spices To Add To Homemade Baby Food Recipes
Adding spices is a great way to introduce new flavors to your baby and prepare them for eating the same meals as the family when they are older.
DO NOT add sugar or salt to your homemade stage 1, 2, or 3 baby food. They are not healthy for your baby and do not provide any nutritional value.
It is important to add spices that are aromatic and are not spicy. Giving your baby spicy food could lead to burning of the throat, lips, stomach, and eyes (if touched). This will not only be painful but lead to an unhealthy fear of food.
Take this advice from someone who was accidentally given a spicy sauce as a baby, and refused to eat any sauce–ketchup included–until well into her 20’s.
Pro Tip: When adding aromatic spices to your DIY homemade baby food, try adding the spice to a single-ingredient puree before adding it to combinations. This will help you determine if it is the spice that they don’t like or the combination of ingredients.
Aromatic Spices To Add To Baby Food
Aromatic spices are a great idea to get baby’s taste buds used to all different flavors. You can come up with your own baby food recipes by taking your favorite puree or mash and adding a tiny bit of spice.
Add a tiny pinch of ONE spice to your baby’s food before heating and serving. Most spices do not taste good raw, so avoid adding raw spices to cold purees.
- Smoked paprika**
*You can find mild curry powders, but always try the curry for yourself to taste the spice level. Do not trust the label even if it says “mild”. You could also make your own curry powder by mixing equal parts cumin, turmeric, and coriander.
**Smoked paprika has a smoky, earthy flavor. Make sure you check the label for smoked paprika. Other paprika (like Spanish Paprika) are VERY SPICY. Just like with the curry powder always check the spice level for yourself before giving it to the baby.
The Best Baby Food Makers
These are specialty food processors and blenders that can actually steam and puree all in one.
All-in-one baby food makers are a great option, especially if you do not want to freeze big batches of baby food. You can put whatever the family is having for dinner in the baby food maker, steam, blend, and serve.
A huge time-saver for busy mommas!
Nuby Mighty Blender With Cookbook (22 Pieces)
This little gadget is AWESOME!
The Nuby Mighty Blender lets you blend Stage 1, 2, and 3 purees thanks to the two different blade options.
The blender has a batch bowl with a steamer insert that you load up with your ingredients, pop in the microwave to steam, and then pop back on the blender to blend!
This is so great because the batch bowl will collect all of the steaming liquid for you to add back into the puree without losing any nutrients in the cooking process.
The kit also comes with single-serve mixing bowls that let you blend up a single-serving. Perfect to puree whatever fruits and veggies that are on the menu for the rest of the family.
Finally, the additional accessories that come with this kit are AMAZING!
You get single-serve blending cups with lids, single-serve storage cups with lids, a freezer tray with a lid for large batches, spatulas, and serving spoons.
Some customers were concerned with the quality of the blender itself and didn’t find it powerful enough. I think this is true of any blender, so do keep that in mind when deciding on the right baby food maker or blender. The more expensive blenders are also going to have the more powerful motors to make larger batches of food.
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BEABA Babycook Solo 4-In-1
The BEABA Babycook system is a top-of-the-line baby food maker for homemade baby food.
You can make up to 4.5 cups of food at once–which is awesome for making big batches.
The steamer is also powerful enough to cook proteins like chicken and dense vegetables like potatoes in just 15 minutes.
There are even settings to defrost!
Just make sure you are keeping an eye on the water reservoir for mold and keeping it clean. There are specific manufacturer instructions on how to clean the reservoir here.
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Baby Brezza Small Baby Food Maker Set
Busy mommas rejoice!
The Baby Brezza Baby Food Maker is like the crockpot of baby food makers.
Put food in. Press a button. Wait. Outcomes perfect baby food.
The Baby Brezza is the only all-in-one baby food maker that doesn’t require the additional step of pouring the food out of the steamer back into the blender.
With the Baby Brezza, you can put in up to 3.5 cups of food, hit start, and let the machine do the rest.
Of course, depending on the food you might need to adjust a bit for texture and consistency, but it can make purees, mashes, and soft chunks.
The mixer and blade are both dishwasher-safe.
As a bonus, you get 3 reusable pouches with a specially-designed funnel for easy filling.
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Storage And Organization Ideas for Baby Food Pouches And Jars
When it comes to baby food storage, there are so many options on the market.
I personally froze big batches in ice cube trays, and then put the ice cubes in freezer-safe Ziploc bags.
Pro Tip: I used Glad Press N’ Seal to cover my ice cube trays and prevent spills in the freezer.
There are definitely a lot of baby food storage products that I found when doing research for this article that I think would have been super helpful for my homemade baby food-making journey, so I decided to put together a shortlist.
These guys have several products worth mentioning!
Silicone Freezer Tray
Each tray can hold 15 oz (about 1.8 cups) of baby food.
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Plastic Storage Jars
12 4oz (about 6 cups total) Freezer and dishwasher safe storage containers.
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Glass Storage jars
12 4oz (about 6 cups total) Freezer and dishwasher safe glass storage containers.
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Skip Hop Baby Food Storage System
This handy food tray hangs under your shelf in the refrigerator and becomes an EXTRA DRAWER for your baby food.
It holds 8 2 oz containers (2 cups total) of baby food and has a spot for a dry-erase marker to label and date each container.
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The Best Baby Food Delivery Services
Baby food delivery services are a great option if you want to give your baby or toddler homemade baby food, but can’t make it yourself.
Yumi and Little Spoon both prepare your food selection weekly. It is never sitting in a warehouse or spending months on a shelf in a grocery store.
Make sure you do your research on baby food delivery companies. You want to make sure they specify their baby food stages, what ingredients they use (are there any allergens?), how their food is preserved, how their food is delivered, and make sure there is enough variety in the foods that they offer so that your little one is introduced to a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains.
Here are a few highlights of each of the two most popular baby food delivery services:
Read my full Little Soon Review Here.
- Certified organic and Non-GMO
- No additives
- Big-8 allergen free
- Over 100 ingredients to provide a healthy diet full of fiber, protein, iron, calcium, and other vitamins
- Cold-pressure pasteurization to preserve nutrients
- Can last 14 days in the fridge or up to 3 months in the freezer
- Rigorous testing to ensure the safety of their food
- 100% recyclable packaging
- Completely flexible subscription can be paused, canceled, or skipped
Pricing: Babyblends start at $3 and Plates at $5. There are discounts on the more meals you purchase per day. You can choose to purchase 1, 2, or 3 meals per day.
- Meals are prepared fresh every week and cold-pressure pasteurized
- They are free from the BIG-8 allergens
- Certified organic and non-GMO
- No added sugar
- Gluten free and diary free
- 8 Different stages of food to meet your baby wherever they are developmentally in their food-eating journey
- Can be frozen for up to 2 months
🡺 Check Out Yumi 🡸