Homemade Baby Food 101

Homemade Baby Food 101

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Homemade Baby Food 101

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    Feeding baby.  The one thing that has stressed me out more than anything else since I became a mom.  But like all challenging things, I find a good way to overcome that is to change your mindset.  To that effect, I thrive in finding the healthiest, most affordable and most convenient way to feed my 9-month old son.   This ends up usually being homemade baby food.

    In this post I’m going to talk about how I make 90% of Paxton’s baby food.  However, if you aren’t to that stage yet, but breastfeeding exclusively isn’t working out (despite my best efforts I’ve used a lot of formula), check out my previous post on affording baby formula here

    How To Make Homemade Baby Food In 6 Steps

    Step 1: Outline Your Goals

    When you start your baby food making journey, you want to answer a few questions, so you accomplish what you want with the least amount of money, time and effort.  As a mom, I find that all three of those things are in short supply, so I try to conserve them as much as possible.

    • Are you planning to use exclusively homemade baby food, or intermix it with store-bought?
    • Are you passionate about baby only getting organic food?
    • How much freezer real estate do you have available?
    • Is baby eating finger foods yet or strictly purees?
    • What is baby’s consistency preference?
    • Any family history of allergies?

    Step 2: Decide How Often You Are Going to Make Homemade Baby Food

    You could make fresh baby food every day, but as a working mom, that’s really not practical for me to do.  I also know plenty of stay at home moms that don’t have time to cook a meal from scratch for baby every day.  If you do, more power to you, but if not, decide how often you are able to make baby food.  I plan to make some baby food every other weekend or so.  Therefore, I want to make sure there is enough quantity and variety to last a couple weeks.  Also consider if baby eats any adult food.  My son is to the point where he eats cheese, yogurt, bananas, etc. so I can sub those in instead of homemade food once in a while.

    Step 3: Make a Plan

    If there are certain things that baby really likes, make them in bulk.  This goes back to time-saving. However, for new things, make a small amount until you decide if baby likes it.  You should definitely retry things many times, but some of them are just too much of a battle no matter how much you try.  You don’t want a freezer full of something that puts you and baby in a bad mood every time you feed it. 

    I suggest making at least one new food each time, so that you have variety to introduce.  Once you have identified a few food baby enjoys, then make these often enough to keep a freezer stash.


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    Step 4: Assemble Your Toolkit and Ingredients

    When making baby food, you will need cookie sheets for baking, a steaming pot for steaming, containers to freeze food in, and a blender of some type.

    A bag of sweet potatoes and a bag of carrots
    A bag of sweet potatoes and a 5-pound bag of carrots are what I’m making into baby food today.

    I see no reason why someone needs to buy the blenders made specifically for baby food.  If you have a ninja, mini ninja, or some type of smoothie blender, then you are set.  I use my mini ninja pictured here and it works great!  There are plenty of storage things designed for freezing and storing baby food. I have these ones. However, I find that basic ice cube trays with lids from Target work great!  I also found these tiny ice cube trays that are great for making things as mix-ins.  I’ve made pears and zucchini in these.  Paxton eats a solid 2 ounces minimum now, but if you have a younger baby, having smaller cubes allows you to mix a couple of things without ending up with tons of food.

    Various sized icecube trays for freezing homemade baby food

    Once you have everything necessary for making the baby food, you need a way to store the frozen food.  If you have a baby food tray or ice cube tray that has a lid, you could store it in the tray.  You could also package the food into pouches and freeze these.  I have this machine to fill pouchesbut have never used it.  My hesitation is because the pouches aren’t really easier to feed at this stage and I can’t thaw them in the microwave.  I let everything freeze in the trays and then put the cubes into gallon-sized Ziplock bags.  I can write on the bag what it is and the date I made it.  It keeps the food from getting frost and is easy to store and label.

    Ziplock bags full of various types of homemade baby food cubes

    Step 5: Making Homemade Baby Food

    To actually make the food, you will wash, chop, peal and cook as required to get something that can be pureed or squished between the fingers (for older babies).  Most things can be either steamed or baked, but in general, baking preserves the nutrients a little better than steaming.  Once cooked until very soft, you can puree in your blender of choice.  Some things (like potatoes) will need a little water, breast milk or formula added to make it thin enough.  Other things (like pears) will be plenty watery without adding anything.  Below is a table of things I have made for Paxton, and my notes on making them.

    Chopped carrots on a white cutting board
    Carrots steaming on the stove
    Homemade baby food in containers ready to freeze
    Homemade baby food cubes on a red cutting board
    Here are the carrot cubes ready to put into a labeled bag.

    Step 6: Storing and Serving Homemade Baby Food

    Once the food is made, you can freeze it for up to 2 months.  Once thawed, you want to use the food within about 24 hours.  When reheating, I put the desired number of cubes into a baby bowl and microwave for 30 seconds.  I stir and add an additional 30 seconds if required.  I then mix with Greek yogurt, oatmeal or rice cereal or applesauce as desired.  Alternatively, you can put the food for the next day into the fridge to thaw and serve it cold.  Baby doesn’t know what should be hot and what should be cold.  As long as it’s not frozen and not too hot, you are okay.  You do need to make sure you heat slowly and stir the food well to make sure there aren’t any hot spots.  I also mix the food with something cold like Greek yogurt or applesauce to further cool it down.

    “Homemade” Baby Food That Works Well For Baby, But Doesn’t Require Prep

    • No sugar added applesauce (just apples and water)
    • Bananas
    • Plain Greek yogurt
    • Avocado

    Note: Make sure all peels are removed prior to freezing.  I cook the sweet potatoes with the peel on and then scoop out the middle.  Everything else, I peel prior to cooking.  I also chop everything else prior to cooking so that it doesn’t take as long.  For butternut squash, I slice in half and scoop out the seeds prior to baking.


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    Note: There are different stages of solids.  When first starting baby on solid foods, you will want them very smooth and a little runny.  As baby gets more comfortable, you can increase the thickness.  Once baby is around 9-months old and can pick up food, you can start serving small pieces of food that can be squished between the fingers (like really well-cooked pasta or veggies) and things that dissolve quickly (like Cheerios).  Also, when first starting solids, only introduce a new food every 3 days or so.  This allows you to observe for any allergies.

    Ready to start planning meals for baby?  Get my free age-specific meal planner HERE!


    Homemade Baby Food 101
    Homemade Baby Food 101

    What homemade baby food have you made?  Was it successful?  Let me know in the comments.

    If your baby is drinking any formula (babies should drink breast milk or formula until they are at least a year old), check out my post on Affording Baby Formula.

    Like what you read? Subscribe to email updates to receive updates straight to your inbox!

    Get Your FREE Baby Food Meal Planner

    Get a printable meal planner specific to your baby’s age. Each meal planner includes age-specific servings, a place to brainstorm foods and a calendar to plan meals and check which food groups are included.

      We won’t send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

      Homemade Baby Food 101

      Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

      Must-Have Classic Picture Books

      Must-Have Classic Picture Books

      Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

      Must-Have Classic Picture Books

      We all know that it’s good to read to kids starting at birth.  Generally kids aren’t too picky about the book at first; however, you will get tired of reading the same book over and over.  Make sure to start early with introducing your kids to the classic picture books you know and love from when you were a kid.  They have stood the test of time for a reason after all!  If you are a grandparent, then stock up on these books (or dig them out of storage) for a trip down memory lane to when you were a new parent reading these books to your kids.  These books make perfect gifts for kids and parents alike!



      Picture book Stellaluna

      Stellaluna

      This book is about a bat who gets lost and endsup growing up with baby birds.  Theybecome friends and when Stellaluna finds her way back to the bats, the friendsrealize how different they are but that they are also similar.  The final lesson is that they are friendsdespite any differences they may have.  Thisbook is on the longer side but has vibrant pictures throughout.


      Picture book Oh, the Places You'll Go!

      Oh The Places You’ll Go

      This book starts off encouraging about how you will be successful, but then it takes a turn by addressing the fact that sometimes things will go wrong.  It then shows the character getting his groove back and being on top once again.  This book is a great example of how things may go wrong, but you can work through them. The pictures are bright with a lot of details to take in.  The book is on the long end.


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      picture book The Very Hungry Caterpillar

      The Very Hungry Caterpillar

      This is a cute book with brilliantly colored pictures that take your kiddo through a variety of foods the caterpillar eats before becoming a butterfly.  There is opportunity to practice counting and identifying common foods.  This book is short in length.


      picture book Where the Wild Things Are

      Where the Wild Things Are

      This book takes you on a trip into a little boy’s imagination.  On the trip, the boy becomes king of the wild things but decides he would rather go home and eat his dinner.  The pictures are somewhat dark but contain a lot of details.  The book is short in length.


      picture book Officer Buckle and Gloria

      Officer Buckle and Gloria

      This book is the story of a police officer and his dog Gloria.  They go to schools and give safety tip presentations.  However, the students only listen because Gloria is an entertaining partner.  This book is a moderate length.


      picture book Curious George

      Curious George

      This series is about a little monkey that is very curious which results in him getting into all kinds of trouble.  A wide variety of stories are available to entertain any child’s specific interests. These books are moderate in length and have colored pictures.  However, the pictures may not be as bright and engaging as some of the other books on this list.


      picture book Green Eggs and Ham

      Green Eggs and Ham

      This classic book is about a character that has no desire to try green eggs and ham. He’s convinced that he doesn’t like it. However, through rhyming nagging, he tries it and decides it’s pretty good.  This is a great way to address trying new foods with kids.  The book is moderate in length.


      picture book The Poky Little Puppy

      The Poky Little Puppy

      This book is about 5 puppies who keep getting into trouble for digging a hole under the fence.  The poky puppy is the last one home and lucks out a few times, but the last time he gets caught too.  This book is moderate in length and has bright pictures.


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      picture book Harry the Dirty Dog

      Harry the Dirty Dog

      Harry doesn’t like getting baths, so he hides the scrub brush and goes on an adventure. He gets really dirty to the point his family doesn’t recognize him.  He ends up begging for a bath to prove he’s Harry.  This book is moderate in length.  The pictures are colored, but not very bright.


      picture book Clifford Goes to Dog School

      Clifford the Big Red Dog

      Clifford is a giant red dog.  These books are about him, his owner Emily Elizabeth and their friends.  There are a variety of stories, but they all focus on a big idea that Clifford has.  These books are moderate in length and have colored pictures to keep young kids entertained.


      picture book Are You My Mother?

      Are You My Mother?

      This book follows the journey of a baby bird that fell from his nest.  He doesn’t remember what his mother looks like, so he keeps asking various animals and things if they are his mother.  In the end, he gets put back in the nest and his mother finds him there.  This book is a short read, but the pictures aren’t as engaging as some of the others on this list.


      picture book Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

      Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

      This book is a story about a town where all the food comes from the sky.  However, the town eventually meets its demise when severe “food weather” strikes day after day and the citizens run for their lives.  This book has lots of pictures, and it is longer than many of the others.


      picture book The Cat in the Hat

      The Cat In The Hat

      The Cat comes to visit on a rainy day when the mother is out.  He then unleashes all kinds of chaos on the house despite the pet fish protesting.  In the end, everything is cleaned up before mother comes home.  This book is longer than the others and the pictures are somewhat enticing. 


      picture book Goodnight Moon

      Goodnight Moon

      This book starts with a description of a room and then says goodnight to everything in the room.  This book has bright pictures and is very short and basic.  It’s a great book for a child just learning to read.


      picture book Madeline

      Madeline

      This is the story of a little girl in Paris.  She comes down with appendicitis and has to have surgery.  When the other little girls go to visit her, they see how much fun she is having in the hospital and they want to have appendicitis too.  This book is moderate in length and has colored pictures, but they aren’t all that bright.


      Final Thoughts

      I am a firm believe that all kids should get a few books for Christmas.  These ones are classics that have stood the test of time.  Since these books are ones today’s parents likely remember from their childhood, they are perfect to share with their children!

      For more gift ideas, check out these baby clothes tips.

      What were your favorite childhood books?  Let me know in the comments.

      If you liked this content, make sure to subscribe for more great information!

      Must-Have Classic Picture Books

      Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

      Where Did All This Stuff Come From? – Baby Toys Edition

      Where Did All This Stuff Come From? – Baby Toys Edition

      Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

      Where Did All This Stuff Come From? – Baby Toys Edition

      Who knew that someone so tiny can come with so much stuff –certainly not my husband and me!  When we moved into our 4 bed, 3 bath house we thought we had space to spare, especially with an entire room dedicated to a future tiny human.  However, by the time we had everything we thought we needed and everyone told us we needed, we had filled that room and then some.  Some of the stuff people gave us/said we needed ended up being wonderful and other things aren’t so necessary.  Below is my review on what common baby toys are really necessary. Make sure to also read my review on nursery items here. You can also see what is worth registering for and what isn’t here.

      Rating Scale

      –       Green: Definitely recommend purchasing

      –       Yellow: Might be good to have

      –      Red: Don’t bother

      Bumbo Chair: Rating Red

      I didn’t have one of these initially.  However, when my son was about 3 months old, he wanted to be sitting upright and had pretty good head control.  However, we had to hold him in that upright position.  I decided a Bumbo chair would be perfect for allowing him to sit on his own some.  In reality, the baby has to be pretty close to sitting up unassisted to use the Bumbo chair, and the legs are tight enough that my son’s legs barely fit by that point. It took up space in our living room and got used a handful of times.  I think my cat used it more than the kid.  Totally not worth getting.  My husband renamed it the ‘Dumbo chair’ because he wasn’t impressed. If you want to see what you are missing, you can view it here.


      Infant Play Mat: Rating Green

      I didn’t think we needed this before our son was born.  However, when he was about 3 weeks old, we were tired of holding toys over his head for him to look at.  We got a play mat that has toys overhead and is designed for baby to lay on.  They make ones with things for baby to kick to make lights and music.  However, the one we got was basic and quiet.  It worked great, and we used it all the time until Paxton started rolling over. This is the one we had.


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      Teething Toys: Rating Yellow

      Every baby is going to teeth at some point.  During this time chewing on things will be a favorite activity.  Teething toys come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and textures to provide relief to sore gums.  My son will chew on the teething toys if I give them to him.  However, he is just as happy chewing on a wooden block, a spoon or anything else he gets his hands on (cell phones are a favorite teething toy).  As long as he has something he can stick in his mouth, he couldn’t care less if it’s designed for chewing.

      Where Did All This Stuff Come From? – Baby Toys Edition

      Foam Mats: Rating Green  

      These are perfect to have until baby starts crawling.  You can buy mats in bright colors and patterns designed for kids, but they can be pricey.  Instead, we bought a package of foam mats from Costco for $12.  These were a plain black and could be wiped off easily.  We set them up on our white living room carpet and made that Paxton’s main play area.  They provided an extra layer of cushion for a baby just learning to sit unassisted and made for easy cleanup for spit-up and milk.  We didn’t get these until our son was about 5 months old. However, they would have been great to have from the beginning. 

      Where Did All This Stuff Come From? – Baby Toys Edition
      My son playing on his foam mats.  

      Activity Table(s): Rating Green

      You don’t need these until your baby is a little older, but they are great for 6+ months.  I really like the designs where the legs are detachable. We had one that we used for a few months without the legs once my son could sit up, then when he started standing, we added the legs.  Now at almost a year, he loves crawling over and pulling up on it to play.  The music and lights are favorites.  We got one that sings/talks in both English and Spanish. When I get tired of listening to the ABC’s in English I switch to Spanish.  We have this one.


      Walker: Rating Red

      The walkers where you put your baby into them and they have wheels are not recommended by the AAP because they can be dangerous by allowing really little babies to get into things and fall down stairs.  There hasn’t been shown to be any benefit from using these.  Therefore, these walkers should be avoided.  This is the type of walker that isn’t recommended.


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      Push Toy: Rating Yellow

      If you really wanted your baby to have a walker, for older babies, compromise and get a push toy. These are designed to be used as baby is learning to walk.  They can still pose dangers, but by the time baby is using them, they are already crawling and pulling up on things.  I have a wooden one by Melissa and Doug (you can see my video on it here).  There are also options that have activity things on the front to play with while sitting like this one.  I rated this as yellow because I think it’s good for my son to practice walking and to experience the cause/effect concept of pushing it. However, he wouldn’t care if he didn’t have it.  Here is the toy we have.


      Exersaucer: Rating Green

      This is a must-have for your sanity.  I said you don’t want walkers; however, the beauty of this is that it’s like a walker but doesn’t move.  I highly recommend getting one that allows your baby to jump up and down in it. This is a great way to get out some energy in a baby that isn’t mobile yet.  It also works to briefly contain an older baby.  I put my son in it when I need a minute of him not getting into things. He gets bored more quickly than when he was younger, but I can usually buy myself at least 5-10 minutes. This one is similar to ours.


      Stuffed Animals: Rating Green (in moderation)

      These are the quintessential childhood toy.  Stuffed animals come in so many cute, cuddly styles.  Babies love them to play with.  I have a couple that my son likes to push his head into when he gets tired, and I keep one handy to entertain him while he’s on the changing table.  They can also be used to decorate your nursery.  However, the number of stuffed animals can grow quickly if you’re not careful.  If you have stuffed animals, you will also want to get an animal net like this one. 

      Important Note: Make sure not to put anything, including stuffed animals, into bed with a baby less than a year old.

      Where Did All This Stuff Come From? – Baby Toys Edition

      Miscellaneous Electronic Toys: Rating Green (in moderation)

      There are a ton of choices when it comes to plastic toys that run on batteries to entertain your little one.  These often play music, talk and light up.  They can be great fun, but you will get tired of listening to them no matter how cute the music sounds in the store.  Make sure you have toys that don’t require batteries on hand for when you need a break from the same song over and over.

      Where Did All This Stuff Come From? – Baby Toys Edition

      Miscellaneous Wooden Toys: Rating Green

      These are great because you don’t need batteries, they are sturdy, they make good chew toys for teething babies, and they don’t make as much annoying noise as the electronic toys above.  My son loves playing with/chewing on wooden blocks.  An activity cube is also a hit.  I really like the Melissa and Doug toys.  There are so many cute wooden options that are built to last.  This one that involves pounding is next on our list because our son loves to pound things these days.

      Where Did All This Stuff Come From? – Baby Toys Edition

      Rattles: Rating Green

      These toys are great for younger babies to practice picking things up, gripping things, passing items back and forth and the cause/effect of shaking.  They come in a variety of designs ranging in loudness.  I suggest a few different designs.  Ones with big holes are easy for younger babies to hold and thicker ones are great for older babies who want to use it to pound on things.


      Books: Rating Green

      There are so many benefits to be gained from reading to baby right away.  When baby is really little, you can read whatever you want.  Baby just likes hearing your voice.  However, as baby gets older and more active with better eyesight, you will want books with bright pictures.  Board books are great because they are hard to destroy and brightly colored.  Touch and feel books and ones where you press buttons for sounds are also great options to keep baby engaged.

      Where Did All This Stuff Come From? – Baby Toys Edition

      Dump Bucket: Rating Green

      This is my take on the sensory bin concept.  I renamed it the dump bucket because my son loves finding it and dumping everything out to find the perfect item to play with.  You can read how I put this together for less than $10 here.

      Where Did All This Stuff Come From? – Baby Toys Edition

      Ottoman Storage: Rating Green

      With all these toys, you are going to want some storage.  I have a couple of these ottomans that are perfect for storing toys. They look nice with our living room décor but hold quite a bit.  They can also double as extra seating when people are over, cat beds, and my son enjoys using them to pull up on.


      Final Thoughts

      You likely noticed that I rated many of the above items as Green.  I’m a big fan of the variety of toys and then I switch out the readily accessible ones periodically.  I find that providing toy variety for my son sometimes is helpful for keeping him distracted so he doesn’t get into things he shouldn’t.  However, if you prefer a more minimalism concept, you can cut out many of these items in favor of letting baby play with pots and pans and other safe household items.

      Do you agree with my assessments?  Why or why not?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

      For more great information on what baby items you need and don’t need, check out these posts!

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      Where Did All This Stuff Come From? – Baby Toys Edition

      Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.