This article is meant to be a complete guide for homemade baby food for babies (mostly up to 6 months. But it will give you food ideas for older kids too). You can adjust food consistency according to age. This article contains reasons for making your own baby food, allergy advice, baby food list of ideas, how to cook & puree baby food, storage & thawing techniques, quantities, feeding spoons, timing & mood & references.
Many doctors all over the world don’t recommend babies to start solid food till they’re 6 months of age. They don’t even allow giving water to babies till then. I don’t blindly listen to all their advice. However, I trust my mom Shireen Gheba’s advice blindly as she is very well-educated and has raised 3 children.
Since I’m not an expert in the field, I’m not here to advise any of you what you should or shouldn’t do. To each their own. If you want advice, you can consult a doctor, specialist, your mom or online references. On popular request, I am only sharing what I feed my baby. What you decide to feed your baby is entirely your personal choice. Good luck!
There are too many controversies on the topic of baby food. We all have different opinions and experiences. What works (or doesn’t) for one, may not for another. I dislike intolerance in societies on any level. Before passing judgment on any mother, we should understand that a mother will never do anything to harm her baby. Let’s do this: You do what you think is right for your baby; I’ll do what I think is right for mine. 🙂
Why make your own baby food
- Healthier, more nutritious baby food
- Tastier food
- Control over ingredients and consistency
- No preservatives
- Better on the pocket
- Better for the environment
My mom advised that we must only offer one new food to the baby per week. This is so we can observe them and know whether or not they’re allergic to that type of food. Common things to look out for are: Any changes in bowel movements, constipation, skin allergies (inc. a swelling, rash, redness….), etc. If any serious side effect takes place, stop feeding what caused it and consult a doctor.
How to cook baby food
There are four main ways to do it:
I find myself steaming almost everything in my Instant pot on a Steam option for approx 10 mins on the Sealing setting. My second best option is to boil.
How to puree baby food
I use my hand blender for making all baby food purees and I think it works great.
You can use any chopper, blender, smoothie maker, food processor or Nutribullet for it. In some cases, a fork does the job too (banana, half-boiled egg, grapes etc).
I fed my newborn the following:
- Breastmilk: Here are the challenges I faced during the process.
- Formula milk: Enfamil (ready to feed) for the first 2 months & continued for outings. 2+ months, we shifted to Kirkland powdered formula from Costco
- Anti-colic homemade kawa/tea: Here is the recipe for it.
The following are the foods that I gave my baby during this stage which are linked with details on how to prepare them.
I introduced solids with banana at 3 months and then introduced an egg when she was 3.5 months, then all other foods in the list below:
- Half boiled egg: I boil an egg for 6 minutes, take the shell off and mash it with a fork before serving her. I give her one egg daily. (It usually takes her 2-3 sittings to finish. I cover and leave in fridge for next time. Make fresh daily)
- Mashed ripe avocado (mixed in formula milk)
- Gerber brand cereals: Iron-fortified rice, barley, oat or mixed grain cereal
- Butternut Squash
- Sweet Potato
- Apple & pear sauce
- Yogurt (Plain & flavored)
- Prunes (Fresh not available so I bought the premade packet from store)
- Cherry tomato
- Fig (fresh not available so I have bought pre-made from store)
7 month onward
At this point, most babies have developed a good tongue movement and are able to have baby biscuits or self-feeding foods. The baby doesn’t need to have teeth for this to develop. Once you baby is able to move on from purees. You can start giving him/her steamed or boiled vegetables/fruit for self-feeding.
- Cucumber (I tried after she was a year old as I heard it can be hard to digest for babies)
I am in no position to write about exact quantities. You can do your own research if you want to be that specific. Or you can use the quantity in each linked recipe.
I just know the consistency that I want and add water accordingly. You may do the same or decide quantities up to your/baby’s requirement.
How much each baby wants to eat I feel, is entirely up to the baby as I don’t believe in force-feeding.
Instant pot steaming
The above links are mostly about boiling vegetables/fruits and then making a puree with blender. I do that sometimes too. But it’s easier when blender doesn’t have to be used as baby is sleeping many times. At other times, the baby gets scared of the noise.
I have an instant pot and I find baby foods easiest to make in there. I use the Steam setting which is the healthiest cooking option and choose a number between 9-15 for all vegetables/fruits depending on how hard they are. I simply add a cup of water in instant pot, the metal rack (which came with the pot) and put peeled vegetables/fruit there. Close the lid and put it on Sealing. Once its done, simply mash with a fork, add some boiled water and mix. I store a little for the next 2-3 days in the fridge and freeze the rest in ice-cube trays as explained later.
This is the easiest way to make baby food and you don’t have to make in bulk. Since you’re not using the blender, you can even make small quantities by this method.
There are endless combo options for baby food. The ones I’ve tried are:
- Apple & Pear
- Apple, Pear & Spinach
- Plum & Spinach
- Rice cereal & Strawberries/Pear/Apple
- Sweet potato & Carrot
If you’re unsure about which foods to combine, a quick online research can help you. There are many resources available. Some are linked in References of this article.
Digestion & experience
Thank God Nyra never had any problem with any of the foods I have fed her so far.
When I started feeding her, I got a lot of comments on how I shouldn’t feed her some foods that can cause constipation, gas or other issues. I heard sweet potato can cause constipation and cauliflower/broccoli can cause gas. There is little evidence of these but you may do your research. Prunes and bananas, on the other hand, are good for softening-hard stools and curing constipation.
However, my understanding is that we shouldn’t just avoid healthy foods because of a chance of an issue. I believe in giving small quantities of different types of healthy foods while keeping an eye on the baby.
Once baby starts solids, her poop will naturally start to get more solid but that doesn’t mean we should stop feeding her all the good things. Just keep an eye. In case constipation or hard stools continue then try more foods like banana and prunes but don’t stop giving those foods too. Nyras system adjusted to the new foods soon.
Best storing technique
It’s almost impossible to make small portions of baby food every day. So I absolutely love this convenient yet no-compromise-on-health solution:
Freeze in icecube trays in the freezer. Once frozen, you can transfer these cubes into sealable freezer bags, wash the tray and use it for storing more baby food.
Note: Foods like Bananas and Eggs should be prepared and served fresh. The rest can be frozen.
Best thawing technique
Its very easy to take the cubes out of the icecube trays. Simply insert a butter knife on 2 edges of the cube and it pops out.
The thawing options are: Stove, microwave, oven, bottle warmer (food insert) or keep at room temperature before serving.
I prefer the last option. I put 1-2 cubes in a covered container at room temperature 2-3 hours before serving. That way it doesn’t have to be warmed up. You can adjust time according to climate.
Baby spoons: These are a great buy for introducing solids to baby. Works 3+ months. Its soft ends are comfortable for baby gums. When I introduced solids to her, I didn’t know hard-spoons were the reason she refused to eat. As soon as I switched, she loved eating food.
Honestly, I never measured the amount of milk/food that she has/had. I just give her as much as she wants happily. I don’t force-feed ever.
Just for an idea, Nyra is 6 months right now. Normally, in a day, I give her 1 cube of any frozen food I’ve made, 1 serving of cereal and one serving of something from fridge like yogurt/banana/egg. So roughly she eats thrice a day. Each serving size totally depends on her. Whenever she stops, I finish her left-overs.
Timing & Baby’s Mood
I have realized that it is really important to analyze your baby’s mood before planning to feed anything.
- Baby shouldn’t eat after he/she’s had milk (when tummy is full, baby will refuse to eat)
- The baby shouldn’t be moved too much after feeding
- Baby shouldn’t be bathed right after feeding
Keeping in mind, the above, I find that the best time to feed her is after a nap or after a bath. When her stomach is empty, there are good chances of eating properly. The worst time to make the baby eat food is when baby is too tired, sleepy or has a full stomach.
After a few months of introducing baby to solids, you will realize that he/she develops a preference. Most likely, they’ll enjoy fruits like apple/pears which are naturally sweet.
Food Plan for a day
A typical day for Nyra at approx 6 months looks like this:
Morning: Rice/Wheat/Oat cereal
Late afternoon: Vegetables & fruit
Evening snack: Yogurt/banana etc (optional)
Night: Rice/Wheat/Oat cereal (optional)
Each food offering is small and babies can eat a number of times throughout the day. At 3 months, they’d only eat once a day but it can increase to the above frequency by 6 months. This is just an idea.
Transition to adult food
Although it’s good for the baby to have clean foods without salt, sugar or spices but at the same time, we have to let them taste our foods early in life too so they don’t become picky eaters. It is also so we don’t have to keep making different foods for baby and the rest of the family in future.
The sooner we make the transition, the better. I started introducing a bit of salt and pepper in her daily egg at 7 months. Also started giving her Hummus and daal/chalwal (mashed) etc. This way at around 12 months, she started having most of our food. The idea is to introduce adult food to baby earlier in life.
Some experts also suggest not making purees for baby always. Sometimes lightly mashing is enough so baby has the flexibility to eat different kinds of foods (not just purees).
Ready-made Baby Foods
Even though I try my best to make most of her foods at home, there are times when one has to buy ready-made baby foods. I try to get those foods which I can’t (or it’s very difficult to) make at home like:
- Rice/wheat/wholegrain Cereal
Store-made foods are ideal for traveling. I try to go through ingredients and choose brands with the least amount of sugar/salt. Of course they all have preservatives which is why I try to avoid as much as possible.
Sometimes, I get a bottle of ready-made food like Chicken and then add a steamed vegetable myself in it so at least there’s something fresh in the food.
Once babies start having solids, they have a tendency to get constipated. Mine still gets constipated a lot (at 7 months). I have been doing my research and found that the following are good for it:
- Prunes: I get it ready-made
- Fruits & veggies like apples/pear/brocolli
- Drinking water
- Warm bath
The best solution is to make your baby drink a lot of water. Nyra didn’t like having water much so I make this kawa for her daily and give it to her every few hours.
Fresh food feeder
Following is a great tool that I’ve seen my friends use and am ordering:
Nyras favs & least favs so far
It’s funny how their preference also keeps changing. Following are her current most and least favorites:
- Least: Sweet Potato, Plum
- Most: Apple/Pear, Carrots, Zucchini, Rice Cereal, Cauliflower, Brocolli & Banana, Egg
Please comment below your babies favourite foods?
The following are some more helpful articles on this subject. The first one is really important as it discusses the important nutrients for babies and choking hazards (two important topics which I couldn’t add in this article).
- Baby self-feeding: Tips, tricks & finger foods to try
- 21 Homemade easy baby food recipes
- 10 foods to feed your baby that you probably aren’t
- Ultimate guide on how to make homemade baby food
Please comment below if this post helped. I wrote it especially for you as I got so many requests for it. I would love your feedback. I would love to know what else you feed your babies. Any tips or hacks will be appreciated.