Some families decide to make homemade baby food instead of purchasing their infants’ first foods pre-made from the grocer. This decision can help to cut food costs, increase food variety options, and afford countless other benefits. Where to begin? Follow our tutorial below and learn easy steps for getting started!
|Basic Equipment to Consider:
* Knives, spoons, spatulas, whisks, peelers, etc. Specific utensils can be determined by preference and cooking style. Baby food making specific appliances, if preferred, can be used
Produce should be properly cleaned in order to remove pesticides and in order to remove any waxes that may be on the produce. Be sure to inspect for blemishes or overly ripe or under-ripe fruits/vegetables. Select nicely ripe, fairly blemish-free produce.
When introducing a new food, many parents find it helpful to peel the fruit/veggie before cooking so as to rule out any issues that the peel itself might cause in relation to the food trial.
For meats, be sure that meats are fresh and stored properly. Some meats need to be rinsed and patted dry with paper towels before cooking. Depending on the method that you are using to cook the meats, you may wish to dice them or slice them into smaller pieces before beginning the cooking process.
Grains/ “Pseudo Grains”
For grains and/or pseudo grains, be sure to read the labels in order to learn if the product needs to be rinsed or soaked prior to use (some brands of quinoa require rinsing, for instance). In order to make an infant cereal from a grain or pseudo grain, pulverize the dry food in a blender or food processor until a fine powder is formed. Then follow the cooking processes noted below.
The Process: Cooking, Puree and Storage:
In order to cook prepared fruits and/or vegetables, you can slice and boil them in clean cooking water and/or steam them in the colander (colander resting atop a pot of boiling water, cover on top of colander). You can also cook them in accordance to the directions on a specialty baby food maker, if using such an appliance. You can also cook fruits/veggies in a skillet or roast them in the oven for variety.
In order to cook meats, consult a cookbook for appropriate cooking temperatures of well-done meats. Whatever cooking method is used, appropriate cooking temperatures is very important with meats. For meat purees, you can puree the final product of meat cooked:
1.In a crock pot or slow cooker, such as cooking a roast or chicken breast. Once cooked fully, you can shred it into very tiny pieces and puree or simply feed your little one the shreds, if this is appropriate to your child’s developmental level.
2.In foil packets in the oven. Once the piece of meat is prepared, rub it with a little bit of a safe oil and make a sealed foil packet around the meat. Bake in the oven on a cookie sheet at the appropriate temperatures and for the appropriate time frame depending on the weight and type of meat. Once fully cooked, shred and puree to achieve desired texture.
3.Boiled in a pot of water on the stove. Simply boil chunks of the prepared meat on the stove until meat is fully cooked. Again, shred and puree.
4.Prepare a broth with the meat through a process that involves cooking the meat in a pot on the stove in water for several hours.
In order to cook grains/pseudo grains into infant cereal forms, add 1 cup of water for every 2 Tbsp of dry, pulverized grain/pseudo grain powder. Boil in a saucepan until mixture forms a porridge and desired consistency is reached. Boil longer for a thicker cereal, less time for a thinner cereal.
For fruits/vegetables, simply add the drained cooked produce to a food processor, blender, or other pureeing agent and puree on a setting that matches the desired thickness. If you need to add water, you can sometimes add the cooking water, but in some cases (such as with spinach and carrots; sometimes with beets) you will need to add fresh water for the pureeing rather than the cooking water.
For meats, simply puree the shreds in a food processor or blender. Add water, formula, and/or breast milk as necessary to achieve your desired texture.
For pseudo grains/grains, there should be no need for further pureeing if the product was pulverized into a powder to begin with.For thicker purees, you can choose one of the following:
1.Use a manual food grinder– this will create a thicker food (great for pasta, for instance)
2.Use a masher– this will create a thicker mash with a few chunks
3.Set aside some of the food, shred or dice it, and puree the rest. Add the puree to the diced/shredded food and mix with a spoon for a puree with a bit of texture for a child developmentally ready for this consistency.
Food must be stored in the freezer within a few hours of cooking it in order to maintain freshness. Depending on climate, immediate storage may be necessary.
For all purees, you can spoon them into ice cube trays or freezer safe containers, in single serving amounts.
Freeze covered for 12-24 hours and then remove from containers and place into labeled and dated freezer bags in order to save space and in order to enable reuse of the containers.
For chunks of food (such as small chunks of strawberries), you can also measure out single servings into ice cube trays or freezer safe containers, but add about a tablespoon of water for each 1-2oz increment.
If stored properly, frozen baby food can typically last 3-6 months
Key factors to remember:
If using products processed by a manufacturer (such as the pseduo grains, frozen produce, and meats) be sure to check with the company regarding processing and packaging practices in regards to your child’s allergens.
Need extra help contacting manufacturers? Check out the Label Reading Tutorial to learn how!
Always check for freshness and integrity of the food itself!
If your child seems to be sensitive to cross-contamination, you may wish to consider having independent, easy-to-sanitize cookware for your child’s food preparation needs.
Play with textures and cooking methods in order to help ease tolerance of a food or in order to provide variety with a limited list of foods
Consider combinations of already safe foods when contributing to variety (such as peaches and bananas, spinach and pears, etc)
A Final Note:
Parents may opt to make homemade baby food for a variety of reasons:
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Page published: July 24, 2012. Last update: July 9, 2013. Copyright © 2012,The FPIES Foundation