Feeding Your Baby…Getting Started with Homemade Purees

Caston Ray at 8 months enjoying homemade spaghetti and meatballs.

I’ve been experimenting in my kitchen with homemade baby foods of all sorts since the birth of my son in 2009 and I’ve learned a lot since then.

I decided before Caston was born that I wanted to make his food, instead of just choosing the jarred varieties.  I knew it wouldn’t be easy, I knew it would take time and research, but I knew it was the very best food for him.  Moreover, I knew that I wanted it to be as local and fresh as possible, therefore I choose to purchase most everything from farmers I knew at the market or from my own parent’s farm.

Try to buy vegetables that are in season and local. Much of the produce we buy in stores is at least 14 days old by the time your purchase it in the stores and has traveled over 1,500 miles from farm to the store. If you can’t find it local and fresh- choose frozen.

What do you need to make your own baby food?
Well for starters, skip purchasing the WAY overpriced baby food cookbooks, the Baby Bullet and even forgo purchasing the specialty baby food storage containers that I now see on the market.  All you really need is a food processor or food mill, ice cube trays and a little bit of creativity!  If you don’t have a food processor, purchase one, because if you become a fan of my blog…you’re going to need it.  Plus, what kitchen isn’t complete with a fancy food processor anyways…

From my research…I read about how good salmon is for babies because of the natural DHA and Omega 3 fatty acids found in salmon, so I thought how could I incorporate it in a baby food? Sweet potatoes, olive oil and a few other ingredients and I stumbled onto an amazingly delicious food that my Caston went Ga-Ga for.

I always taste-test all of the homemade foods. If I wouldn’t eat it,  I wouldn’t feed it to my kiddos! I’ve tasted the prepared foods in the jars- NO Thank You- I’ll pass on that!  I will admit one thing though…I did not like the beet baby food I made when Caston was a wee one, but I do not like beets – PERIOD.  He, however, loved them and still does.

Kale Baby Food..It's in season now
Yummy Kale Baby Food!

Spice It Up
Don’t be afraid to put seasonings in your homemade baby foods as well. Just as long as you don’t include sugar or salt in the food, you are good to go.  Many of Caston’s foods as he got older included garlic, which a lot of folks were surprised at, but he never had any issues with it and loves it now as a 3-year-old.

Changing Up Stages
The older your baby gets the less finely pureed the food will become. Follow your babies reaction though- all babies are different and are ready for chunkier and more dense foods at different times. By the time most babies are 8 months old they can have some table food that the family eats, like potatoes, beans, carrots, cottage cheese (which Caston loves), yogurt (we buy YoBaby- it’s easier on their bellies), peas and many other items. See more here.

When pureeing foods, reserve the water the vegetables or fruit was cooked in to add back a little in the food as your process it down. The water holds many of the nutrients your baby needs, this is a step many forget.  DON’T FORGET THIS!

Also, just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean your baby won’t. Be adventurous when making baby’s food- he/she will thank you later on.

Freezing/Storing Baby Food
Remember how I said forget the expensive food storage trays and containers that are on the market?  Here’s why.  All you need is about 4 ice cube trays and a box of freezer bags to store your baby food.  Plus, buy a couple small containers to use when you are away from home to take your homemade baby food in, that way your little one will always get everything homemade!

After pureeing the food to the proper texture (Stage 1- Fine, Stage 2- Slightly Chucky, Stage 3- Chuckiest), spoon the food into the ice cube trays, cover and pop them into the freezer.  Most purees are froze after 2 hours.  Label your freezer bags with the name of the food, the stage and the date.  Pop the cubes out and place in the appropriate freezer bag.

When you are ready to feed your baby, reach into the freezer and grab 1 to 2 cubes and thaw in the microwave.  Remember to always watch for any signs of an allergic reaction when feeding your baby foods.  Each new food should be introduced for at least 3 days straight to see if your little ones has any issues with the food.

Keep It Simple
Start with simple foods at first.  I always start mine on straight yellow squash, butternut squash, pumpkin…then move on to the greens, then fruits.  I make small amounts of these foods (with some seasonings like basil and olive oils) and then after baby accepts these I move on to mixtures.

Mixtures of Foods
When I say mixtures, I mean…A cube of butternut squash with a cube of applesauce.  You will have many bags of single foods, after baby has tried and accepted all the single foods, then you can mix and match your cubes together.  That’s when the real fun begins!

Here are some of the recipes that Caston loved  and Cora is just now starting (and they are mommy approved as well):

Fancy Salmon
2 (3 oz) salmon filets, poached and fully cooked
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 medium white potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp. onion powder

Cook salmon fully and set aside. Boil potatoes until soft. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and puree to desired texture.

Asparagus Delight
1 lb. of fresh asparagus, trimmed
1 head of fresh broccoli, cut
1 tsp. olive oil
1 clove of garlic
1/2 tsp. onion powder

After washing and trimming the vegetables- stem until tender. Add all ingredients in a processor and puree.

Spinach and Cauliflower Oh My
1 lb of spinach leaves (or use 1 bag of frozen spinach), cooked
1 head of cauliflower, steamed
1 clove of garlic
2 apples, peeled and cooked

Place all cooked items in a food processor and puree.

Red Cabbage Fun
(When baby is ready, add a cube of chicken to this one)
2 apples, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 cups of red cabbage
3 T. of golden raisins
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 cup water

Place all ingredients in a pan and boil for 10 minutes and then puree.

Berry Bounty
1 cup of blueberries
1 cup of blackberries
1 cup of strawberries
2 bananas

Simmer the berries in water for 6 minutes, then strain. Place berries and bananas in food processor and puree. When you serve this, you might have to add some cereal to thicken it up. Cereal is great to thicken up fruit purees.

Here’s a great puree that is packed full of nutrients for your growing baby!

Spinach and Sweet Potato Puree
1 bag of spinach, cooked
1 sweet potato, cooked, peeled and cubed
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp of olive oil

Cook spinach and sweet potatoes. Place in a food processor along with garlic and olive oil and puree. Spoon into ice cube trays, cover with plastic wrap and freeze. After frozen place in freezer bag and use within 1 month.

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