You don’t have to be a master in the kitchen to make your own baby food. 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 foods and combinations. These 21 simple recipes are fast, inexpensive, and — best of all — could be more nutritious than foods that have been sitting on a grocery store shelf.
In their 2012 publication, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting until 6 months to start adding in solid foods, but some people start as soon as 4 months as long as certain developmental stages have been reached. According to a 2013 study, babies who started eating some types of solid foods by 6 months old had a reduced risk of allergies and asthma. It’s most important that the baby can sit upright and hold their head up. It’s also important that they show signs of interest in solid food. Once you’ve gotten the okay from your child’s pediatrician, you’re ready to bring on baby’s first food.
A few things to keep in mind when thinking about baby food:
- New eaters only need about 1 to 2 tablespoons of a food, so keep portions small.
- Be on the lookout for allergies, especially when feeding your child foods that contain common allergens. Common allergens include eggs, peanut, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish.
- The newest evidence shows there is no benefit in delaying introducing these foods beyond 6 months or to introducing foods in any particular order.
- Most of all, don’t forget to have fun!
- sweet bell peppers
- cherry tomatoes
- snap peas (imported)
When your baby is 4 to 6 months old, you’ll want to use simple, single-ingredient purées. This can 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 flavor and likeability.
1. Pea purée
2. Banana puréeOften called a “perfect” food, bananas are rich in potassium and fiber. Bananas are also known as one of nature’s own antacids and are very gentle on the stomach. Although bananas are one of the best first foods for babies, be careful not to overdo it. Too much banana can cause constipation. View the recipe.
3. Baby brown rice cerealRice cereal is one of the most common foods to introduce because it’s less allergenic and easily digested. Mixing it to a fairly thin texture can help babies make the transition from an all-liquid diet to a more solid one. This same process can be applied to steel-cut oats. View the recipe.
4. Avocado purée
5. Baked sweet potato puréeIn-the-know adults eat sweet potatoes for their health benefits. Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber, 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. View the recipe.
6. First carrots puréeCarrots are a wonderful introduction to solids because of their naturally sweet taste and pleasant texture. This simple preparation of carrots provides a rich supply of the antioxidant beta carotene and vitamin A. View the recipe.
For a 7- to 9-month-old baby, you can make thicker purées with multiple ingredients. Remember to introduce one new ingredient at a time and combine foods that you know they aren’t allergic to. You can also add meat and other proteins at this stage, or even earlier if your pediatrician gives the OK.
7. Pumpkin thyme purée
8. First spinach with white yamsThis simple combination of spinach and yams adds a healthy dose of calcium, iron, vitamin A, and folate to your baby’s diet. The yams add a touch of sweetness to create a pleasant introduction to greens. View the recipe.
9. Beets and blueberry mashNot only is this blend a beautiful shade of magenta, it’s also a nutritious combination of antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber. You can also mix this purée with a little cereal for a delicious breakfast for baby. View the recipe.
10. Avocado and banana baby foodThis is a pairing of two wonderful foods: avocados (good fats and fiber) and bananas (potassium and vitamin C). The banana also adds a bit of sweetness and lightens up the usually dense avocado purée. Nix the sugar, and stick with the natural sweetness of the ingredients themselves for young babies. View the recipe.
11. Veggies and sole purée
12. Butternut squash and pear puréeButternut squash is a great ingredient because it rarely causes allergies. Pear adds an additional touch of sweetness to this recipe. View the recipe.
13. Papaya PuréePapayas have a higher acidity than a lot of 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. View the recipe.
At 9 to 12 months old, your baby can enjoy chunkier purées and mashes. You can also add dairy, such as cheese or yogurt, to their foods. At this stage, many babies can even advance to adult food and complex combinations, finely minced or softened.
14. White fish, carrot, and leek purée
15. Quinoa ratatouilleBaby’s first French classic couldn’t be tastier! Traditional ratatouille ingredients meet the super grain — quinoa — in a delightful “gourmet” purée. View the recipe.
16. Baby beef stewThis baby-friendly version of a classic comfort food is full of iron, thanks to the beef. The recipe requires a little more prep time than other baby food recipes, but your house will smell amazing. View the recipe.
17. Raw baby purée of blueberries, mango, avocado, and mild chilies
18. Creamy Provencal chickenThis dish incorporates Herbes de Provence, a mild blend of spices that can help introduce your child to more exciting flavors, without the addition of salt. View the recipe.
19. Quinoa banana mashQuinoa is a protein-packed grain that makes a great addition to your growing baby’s diet. This adds an exciting new texture to the banana mash, an ingredient that your baby probably already loves. Also, try serving cooked quinoa by itself to your baby. The cooked seeds stick to baby’s fingers, which makes it an easy food to eat. View the recipe.
20. Cherry and mint Greek yogurt baby food purée
21. Apricot and banana food with cinnamonSpice things up in baby’s diet with a dash of cinnamon. For a great breakfast, try adding this purée to a bit of cereal or cooked oatmeal, which can also make a great breakfast. View the recipe.
There you have it! All you need are wholesome ingredients, some basic cooking supplies, and a blender. If you’re worried about transporting your homemade meals, there are also tons of high-quality, reusable pouches. Buy high-quality pouches now.