Why make your own baby food?

There are many benefits to making your own baby food.

  • It allows you to introduce food related traditions to the infant.
  • It is important to teach children at the earliest age possible that home-made foods are most enjoyable and the easiest choice, and not to rely on processed foods when they are hungry.
  • Making your own baby food can also save you money, allow your baby to eat a greater variety of food and help make the change from pureed to mashed foods easier.
  • As well, you can mix home-made baby food with breastmilk or formula – the store-bought food is mixed with water.

Where to start

It is important to cook and store food safely. As a general rule, be “CLEAN and QUICK”.

  • Clean your hands with warm soapy water before making any food.
  • Clean all utensils (strainer, cutting board, spoon, etc.) in a dishwasher or hand wash them using hot, soapy water; rinse; and allow to air dry.
  • Cover the food once it has been cooked and put in the refrigerator or freeze right away.

StoringHome-made Baby Food

Home-made baby food can be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Home made Puree  Storage Time in Freezer
Vegetables  6-8 months
Fruits  6-8 months
Meat-poultry-fish (cooked)  10 weeks
Mixed Vegetable & Meat  10 weeks
Puree containing milk  10 weeks

 

To make and freeze your own baby food, use the “Food Cube Method” or the “Drop Method”.

Food Cube Method

  • Place about 2 tablespoons of pureed food in each cube of a plastic “pop out” ice cube tray. Cover with plastic wrap.
  • Put in freezer.
  • When frozen (1-2 hours), “pop” out the frozen cubes of food and place in freezer bags. With a water-proof marker, write the names of the food and the date it was frozen on the bag.
  • When you want to use the food, take out one frozen cube and defrost it in the fridge or put it in a plastic bag and place in warm water to defrost. One cube is equal to about one serving of the pureed food.

Drop Method

  • After the food is pureed, drop spoonfuls onto a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. They will land on the baking sheet in a “plop” shape.
  • Cover the tray with waxed paper and put into the freezer right away.
  • When frozen (1-2 hours), remove from the cookie sheet and transfer pureed “plops” to plastic bags. With a waterproof marker, write the names of the food and the date it was frozen on the bag.
  • When you want to use the food, take out one frozen cube and defrost it in the fridge or put it in a plastic bag and place in warm water to defrost. One cube is equal to about one serving of the pureed food.

Warming Baby Food

You can thaw frozen food in the refrigerator or as you reheat it. An egg poacher, double boiler or a dish in hot water are good warmers for baby food. Be sure to stir the food and test the temperature on the back of your hand before serving it to your baby. What feels warm to you may feel hot to your baby.

Microwave Safety

  • Transfer the amount of baby food to be heated to a microwave safe bowl. Heat on low to medium setting.
  • Before serving, stir and test the food on the back of your hand to be sure the food is warm, not hot.
  • Drops of water in meat purees and meat dinners heat up quickly and will form pockets of steam. This can lead to a burn when the food is eaten. Stir well before serving. Be careful.
  • Do not use baby food jars or other small jars to heat food in the microwave, because the jar may break from a buildup of steam.
  • Tell your babysitters about the safe use of the microwave for heating and defrosting foods.

BasicRecipes for Home-made Baby Food

Most purees require adding extra liquid to make them easier for baby to swallow.

Here is a general guide for adding liquid

FOOD  LIQUID  YIELD  BLENDING TIME
FRUITS 75 – 125 ml (1/3 – ½ cup) cooked fruit  10 ml (2 tbsp) fruit juice or water if necessary 75 – 125 ml (1/3 – ½ cup)  15 – 45 seconds
VEGETABLES 200 ml (3/4 cup) cooked vegetables 45 ml (3 tbsp) vegetable liquid or water 75 – 125 ml (1/3 – ½ cup)  1 – 2 minutes
MEATS 125 ml (1/2 cup) cooked meat 60 ml (4 tbsp)water- milk-vegetable water or other liquid 75 – 125 ml (1/3 – ½ cup) Process until smooth

Recipes to make home-made baby food to follow.

Special Concerns When Introducing Vegetables

The following vegetables contain nitrates:

Spinach • Broccoli • Rhubarb • Cabbage • Cauliflower
Radish • Carrots • Beets • Turnip • Squash

  • When these vegetables are boiled, nitrates leak out into the cooking water. When babies eat a high amount of nitrates, it can make the baby very sick (Ministry of Health, 1985).
  • For babies who are less than 6 months old, do not add the cooking water from the nitrate vegetables when you are making baby food.
  • When you make baby food, use breastmilk, formula, or boiled water that has been cooled to mix with the purée.
  • Do not give nitrate vegetables to infants who have diarrhea often.

GENERAL BABY FOOD TEXTURE GUIDE

Recipes adapted from “Making Your Own Baby Food”, Metro Foodshare,Toronto.

AGE (MONTHS)  FOOD  TEXTURE
0 – 4 Add Breast Milk Infant Formula Liquid Liquid
4 – 6 Add Baby cereal (iron fortified) Strained (thick- soup-like)
6 – 8 Add Cooked Vegetables
Cooked or Soft Fruits
Strained or mashed
Strained or mashed
8 – 10 Add

 

 

 

Meat and Alternatives (hard-cooked egg yolk- soft tofu- well-cooked beans- plain yogurt – minimum 3.8% M.F. cheese)

Dry Toast (use in place of a teething biscuit)

Mashed or finely minced
10 – 12  Add Most variety of foods can be eaten by baby at this age Finely chopped small pieces for baby to feed self

 

STORE-BOUGHT BABY FOODS

Choosing Commercial Baby Foods

Choose plain fruits (not fruit desserts), vegetables and meats. Salt, artificial flavours and colours, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and nitrates are not used in commercially prepared baby foods in Canada.

Other Ingredients that may be found in baby foods include:

  • sugar (in some fruits and desserts for flavour)
  • starch (for thickness)
  • water
  • citric acid or lemon juice (to stop food from turning brown)

Points to Remember about Baby Food in Jars:

  • Read the labels to avoid unnecessary ingredients like starch, citric acid and sugar.
  • Plain food will help your baby learn about flavours.
  • Fresh and frozen unsweetened fruit juices, unsweetened applesauce or yogurt with no added sugar that you buy for the rest of the family are fine for your baby. For Juice – (Be sure to dilute the juices and wait until baby is drinking from a cup!)
  • Meat dinners, desserts and creamed vegetables are not wise choices. You get less nutrition for your dollar.
  • The first ingredient listed on the label is present in the largest amount. For example, if ingredients for “beef stew” are listed as: potatoes, carrots, beef, wheat flour, etc., it means that there are more potatoes and carrots in the meal than beef. Serve it as a vegetable rather than as a meat.
  • Make sure the safety seal on the jar of baby food has not been broken. When you open a jar of baby food, listen for a “popping” sound. If it does not make this sound, throw the baby food out. Germs or bacteria may be in the food.
  • Opened jars of commercial baby food can be kept covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Do not feed the baby directly from the jar unless the whole amount will be eaten at the meal. The spoon will carry germs and saliva back into the baby food jar, which can cause germs to grow.

BABY FOOD RECIPES

Recipes adapted from “Making Your Own Baby Food”, Metro Foodshare, Toronto.

VEGETABLES

Ingredients

  • Fresh or frozen vegetables
  • Water

Method

  1. Wash, peel and slice fresh vegetables or use frozen vegetables.
  2. Stovetop Method: Place vegetables into a steamer or a small amount of boiling water and simmer just until tender.
    Microwave method: Place vegetables in a microwave-safebowl with a small amount of tap water and heat at a high setting until vegetables are tender.
  3. Remove from heat and drain vegetables. Purée vegetables with a small amount of cooking liquid. You can also use breastmilk, formula, or boiled water that has been cooled.
    *Caution – if they are “nitrate containing” vegetables, do not use the cooking water. ** Please refer to the section “Special Concerns When Introducing Vegetables”.
  4. Freeze as directed.

Remember…

  • Fresh or frozen vegetables are the best choices. Canned vegetables may be high in salt and often become too runny when blended.

FRUIT

Ingredients

  • Fresh Fruit
  • Water

Method:

  1. Wash, peel and slice the fruit. Remove any seeds or hard parts.
  2. Combine sliced fruit and a small amount of water in a saucepan.
  3. Stovetop Method: Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and continue cooking for 15-20 minutes or until tender. Microwave method: Place sliced fruit and a small amount of tap water in a microwave safe bowl and heat at a medium setting until fruit is tender.
  4. Drain cooked fruit, reserving the cooking liquid.
  5. Mash or blend fruit, using a small amount of cooking liquid if needed. You can also use breastmilk, formula, or boiled water that has been cooled.
  6. Freeze as directed.

Remember…

  • Fruits for babies should be fresh, unsweetened, frozen or canned in their own juice or water.
  • Canned fruit in syrup has a lot of sugar, so these fruits are not a good choice. Bananas do not need to be cooked. A ripe banana will mash very easily.
  • Canned fruits do not require cooking. You can puree or mash them easily. WATCH FOR SUGAR CONTENT.

BEEF, FISH, AND POULTRY

You can save a lot of money by making your own meat. Limit the sauces, spices and fat that you may be using on meat for the rest of your family.

Remember…

Cut away fat and remove any skin or bones. Over-cooking will make the meat tough and hard to purée. Make sure the meat and chicken are no longer pink inside. For a smooth texture, mix meat with a small serving of rice cereal and breastmilk or formula.

BEEF

Ingredients:

  • 500 g (1 lb) of boneless lean meat cut into 2.5 cm (1 inch) cubes
  • 500 ml (2 cups) water

Method:

  1. Stovetop Method: Place meat and water into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes or until meat is tender.
    Microwave method: Place meat and water in a microwave safe bowl and heat at a high setting until meat is tender.
  2. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
  3. Blend or puree the meat with some of the stock.
  4. Freeze as directed.

FISH

Ingredients:

  • 250 g (1/2 lb) of fish fillets with bones taken out
    (sole, cod, ocean perch, haddock)
  • 125 ml (4 oz) whole milk

Method:

  1. Stovetop Method: Pour milk in a large frying pan or saucer and gently heat milk. Do not boil!
  2. Add fish fillets to the milk. Cover with a lid or aluminum foil and simmer over low heat for 5-10 minutes or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
    Microwave method: Place fish fillets and milk in a microwave-safe bowl and set at a medium setting until fish flakes easily with a fork.
  3. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
  4. Blend or puree the fish with some of the milk used in cooking.
  5. Freeze as directed.

POULTRY (Chicken, Turkey)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1.5 kg (2 lb) chicken or turkey pieces
  • 750 ml (3 cups) of water

Method:

  1. Stovetop Method: Place chicken/turkey and water in a pot. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the chicken is cooked and the meat separates easily from the bones.
    Microwave method: Place chicken and tap water in a microwave-safe bowl and heat at a high setting until meat separates easily from the bones.
  2. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
  3. Take skin and fat off the meat. Remove meat from the bones and then cut the meat into small pieces.
  4. Puree the chicken meat with some of the stock.
  5. Freeze as directed.

MEAT ALTERNATIVES – Legumes (chick peas, navy beans, split peas

Ingredients:

  • 250 ml (1 cup) dried legumes, lentils, or beans
  • 750 ml (3 cups) water

Method:

  1. Add 1 cup of dried legumes to 3 cups of water. Slowly bring to a boil and boil gently for 2 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and let stand for 1 hour.
  3. Drain and add 5 cups of fresh water to the legumes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 40 to 60 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and process to desired consistency by adding 200 ml (3/4 cup) liquid (breastmilk, formula or water) to the cooked legumes.

Remember…

Legumes are a less expensive alternative to meat. They are packed with protein, iron, and other important nutrients. Red lentils do not need to be soaked. They can be boiled in enough water to cover the legumes in the pot until they are soft – time varies, but about 20 minutes. Canned beans and legumes are already cooked and do not need to be re-boiled. They can be mashed and mixed with enough water to achieve desired consistency.

 

This article reproduced with permission and courtesy of the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit ©Copyright.
For more information please visit www.healthunit.org/children/Default.htm