You don’t have to be a master chef to make your own baby food. Homemade baby food is generally more nutritious and tastier than commercially processed food if it is fresh and made from whole foods and nothing else. While convenient, commercial baby foods may lose vitamins and nutrients during processing as well as the yumminess that can make your baby excited to try new baby foods.
When will your baby be ready for solid food?
Most babies are ready to start solid foods between four and six months. Your baby’s signs are ready for solids, including when your baby has good head and neck control and can sit upright when supported. Shows an interest in food – for example, by looking at what’s on your plate; reaches out for your food. Once you’ve gotten your child’s paediatrician approval, you are ready to bring on baby’s first foods!
A few things to keep in mind when thinking about baby food:
- New eaters only need about 1 to 2 tablespoons of food, so keep your portions small.
- Be on a lookout for allergies, especially when feeding your toddler foods that contain common allergens.
- Common allergens include eggs, peanut, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish.
Some people prefer to go organic, wild, pastured, and grass-fed whenever possible. Some foods may be higher in pesticide residue, including:
- sweet bell peppers
- cherry tomatoes
- snap peas (imported)
You will want to use simple, single-ingredient purées to help you to spot and identify a food allergy or sensitivity. Once you have proven your child’s tolerance to individual foods, you can try combinations to enhance flavour and likeability. Here are some recipes for you to pick up:
1. Pea Purée
Peas are a small yet mighty source of nutrition, packing vitamins A and C, iron, protein, and calcium.
3 cups frozen peas, ½ cup breast milk/ formula milk
Step 1 – Place a steamer insert into a saucepan and fill with water to just below the steamer’s bottom. Bring water to a boil. Add peas, cover, and steam until tender, about 15 minutes.
Step 2 – Place peas and breast milk in a blender or food processor and puree until creamy. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any lumps.
Step 3 – Spread pea mixture into an ice cube tray, cover with plastic wrap and freeze until solid, 2 to 3 hours—Transfer frozen cubes to a resealable plastic bag and store in the freezer.
Step 4 – To serve, heat cubes in the microwave for about 30 seconds until warm. Stir thoroughly.
2. Banana Purée
Bananas are rich in potassium and fibre. They are also known as nature’s antacids, and they are very gentle on the stomach. Although bananas are one of the best first foods for babies, be careful not to overdo it. As too much banana can cause constipation.
1 banana and breast milk/formula milk
Step 1 – Peel a small banana and mash with a fork.
Step 2 – During the first stages of weaning, add a little milk if necessary, to thin down the consistency and add a familiar taste.
Step 3 – Serve with breast milk or formula if serving as First Foods Breakfast.
3. Baby Brown Rice Cereal
Rice cereal is one of the most common foods to introduce because it’s less allergenic and easily digested. Mixing it to a relatively thin texture can help babies transition from an all-liquid diet to a more solid one. This same process can be applied to steel-cut oats.
1/2 cup of brown rice and 4 cups of water
Step 1 – You will need some form of a food processor or blender that has a milling blade. Add the uncooked brown rice to the food processor and mill to a fine powder.
Step 2 – Add the milled brown rice and 4 cups of water to a pot and cover until it boils. Turn the heat to low and cook with the lid for 20 minutes. Check the consistency of the brown rice cereal and add water if you want it to be thinner.
Step 3 – Once the cereal is the consistency appropriate for your toddler, pour it into storage cups and freeze or refrigerate. You can refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze for 30 days.
You can also mix with other puréed foods (i.e. apples, carrots, peas, yams).
4. Avocado Purée
This buttery treat is a wonderful “good fats” food for baby’s brain and physical development. Plus, the creamy texture of perfectly ripe avocado is one that babies seem to love. To help prevent browning, put the avocado pit in the purée when refrigerating.
1 mashed avocado, breast milk/formula milk
Step 1 – Mash the avocado with a fork or blend it in a food processor.
Step 2 – Mix with breastmilk, formula or water to reach desired consistency. And serve
5. Baked Sweet Potato Purée
In-the-know adults eat sweet potatoes for their health benefits. Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamins, antioxidants, and fibre, so it makes sense that your baby can benefit from this delicious tuber, too. A simple purée with a touch of water or your baby’s milk makes for a yummy and nutritious first food.
2 sweet potatoes, breast milk/formula milk
Step 1 – Preheat the oven to 400 F / 200 C / 180 C Fan. Scrub the potatoes and prick with a metal skewer or fork.
Step 2 – Place on a baking tray and roast for about 45 minutes or until tender.
Step 3 – Remove from the oven, cut the potatoes in half, scoop out the flesh and purée in a food processor until smooth. Add a little of your baby’s usual milk to thin out the consistency.
Step 4 – You can microwave the Sweet Potato – Scrub the sweet potato and prick with a fork for a quick method. Cook in the microwave on high for 8 to 10 minutes until soft. Cut the sweet potato in half and scoop out the flesh, mix with a little breast milk, formula milk or cooled boiled water to make a smooth consistency. And it is ready to be served.
6. Pumpkin Baby Purée
Pumpkin Baby Purée is a creamy and flavourful way to introduce baby to the tastes of the season! You can serve it plain, with a swirl of plain yoghurt, cottage cheese for older babies, or a spoon full of ricotta—excellent baby food for four months and up. (stage 1 baby food)
It is a fabulous smooth starter purée for the baby, or it can be mixed into yoghurt, oatmeal, pancakes, muffins, or apple purée for toddlers and kids.
Pumpkin: Use a Pie or Sugar pumpkin, not the huge pumpkins you use for carving. Most grocery stores carry pie pumpkins in the fall.
Sage or Thyme: To round out the pumpkin’s natural sweetness, add a pinch of freshly chopped sage or thyme. You can also use cumin, nutmeg, cloves, garlic clove, basil leaves, chopped rosemary or even a big pinch of fresh ginger.
Step 1 – Preheat the oven and line a baking sheet.
Step 2 – Start by slicing off the top off the pumpkin, then cut lengthwise down the middle until you have two halves of a pumpkin.
Step 3 – Scoop out seeds and string, don’t be too obsessed with getting all the strings out, they will puree nicely with the rest of the pumpkin.
Step 4 – Chop the pumpkin into smallish pieces and place onto a baking sheet, skin side down.
Step 5 – Place the pumpkin in the oven and then roast until tender. Peel the skin away from the pumpkin.
Step 6 – Place the pumpkin inside a food processor or blender. Add thyme and start blending for 1-2 minutes, adding the liquid in 1/4 cup increments until you get the desired consistency. And serve
7. Papaya Purée
Papayas have a higher acidity than many other fruits, so it’s best to wait until your baby is 7 or 8 months old to introduce this fruit. The enzymes in papaya (and in pineapple) aid digestion, so this may be a perfect food to help relieve your baby’s constipation or tummy troubles.
1 papaya, breast milk/formula milk
Step 1 – Wash the papaya with a mixture of three parts water and one part white vinegar to remove bacteria. Rinse under cool running water and dry. Remove the papaya peel with a vegetable peeler. Then, slice papaya in half, lengthwise, and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds from the centre of each half. Rinse with water to ensure all of the seeds have been removed. Scoop out the flesh of the papaya with a spoon.
Step 2 – Purée papaya in a food processor or blender until smooth. Add water as needed to reach desired consistency.
Step 3 – And Serve. Introduce your baby to new textures and flavours, mix the puree with other fruits, veggies, oatmeal, poultry, or full-fat yoghurt.
8. White Fish, Carrot, and Leek Purée
This purée combination is a savoury, brain-boosting powerhouse. White fish contains omega-3 fatty acids and may help boost the development of the baby’s central nervous system. Leeks are thought by some to provide cardiovascular support and carrots are loaded with antioxidants.
6-ounce fish fillet, 3carrots peeled and chopped, 1leek white and green parts only, chopped, 1/2cup water reserved, breast milk or formula
Step 1 – In a medium saucepan, bring 2 inches of water to a boil over medium heat.
Step 2 – Place the fish, carrots and leek into a steamer basket and steam for 15 minutes, covered. Let cool slightly.
Step 3 – Transfer all ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth, adding 1/4 cup of liquid at a time, until you have reached your desired consistency.
Step 4 – And serve
There you have it! All you need are wholesome ingredients, some basic cooking supplies, and a blender (blending wand, food processor, food mill, or, if you want to get fancy, an all-in-one baby food maker).
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