homemade baby food

You don’t have to be a master in the kitchen to make your own baby food. While convenient, commercial baby foods lose vitamins and nutrients during processing and a lot of 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, more nutritious than foods that have been sitting on a grocery store shelf.

Is Your Baby Ready for Solids?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting until 6 months to start solid foods, but it is possible to start as soon as 4 months as long as certain developmental stages have been reached. According to a study released by the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, babies who started eating solid foods at 4 months old had a reduced risk of allergies and asthma. It is most important that the baby can sit upright, hold their head up, and shows 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 foods!

A Few Things to Keep in Mind

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

common food allergenscommon food allergens

Be cognizant of foods that can cause gas. Onions, beans, wheat, dairy, and cruciferous vegetables can potentially make your baby uncomfortable. You may want to wait until your baby is a little older (8 to 10 months) to introduce these items.

Go organic, wild, pastured, and grass-fed whenever possible. If your budget doesn’t allow you to go 100 percent organic, try to at least buy organic when using anything on the Dirty Dozen list. This includes:

  • apples
  • peaches
  • nectarines
  • strawberries
  • grapes
  • celery
  • spinach
  • sweet bell peppers
  • cucumbers
  • cherry tomatoes
  • snap peas (imported)
  • potatoes

Most of all, don’t forget to have fun!

4 to 6 Months Old

When your baby is 4 to 6 months old, you will want to use simple, single-ingredient purées. This can help you to spot and identify a food allergy. Once you have proven your child’s tolerance to individual foods, you can try combinations to enhance flavor and likeability.

1. Pea Purée

pea puree
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Source: Photo courtesy of In Sock Monkey Slippers
URL: http://www.insockmonkeyslippers.com

Peas are a small yet mighty source of nutrition, packing Vitamins A and C, iron, protein, and calcium. If the skin of the peas makes the texture less appealing for your child, make sure to strain them to make it as smooth as possible.

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2. Banana Purée

Often 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.

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3. Baby Brown Rice Cereal

Rice cereal is one of the most common foods to introduce because it is non-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.

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4. Avocado Purée

Avocado Puree
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Source: Photo courtesy of The Picky Eater
URL: http://pickyeaterblog.com

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 puree when refrigerating.

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5. Baked Sweet Potato Purée

In-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 milk makes for a yummy and nutritious first food.

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6. First Carrots Purée

Carrots 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.

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7 to 9 Months Old

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 baby is not allergic to. You can also add meat and other proteins at this stage.

7. Pumpkin Thyme Purée

Pumpkin Thyme Puree
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Source: Photo courtesy of Baby Food-e
URL: http://www.babyfoode.com

This easy and elegant seasonal recipe is full of beta carotene, potassium, and iron. Make a big batch and freeze it in ice cube trays for single-portion servings for later!

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8. First Spinach with White Yams

This 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.

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9. Beets and Blueberry Mash

Not 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.

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10. Avocado and Banana Baby Food

This 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.

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11. Veggies and Sole Purée

Veggies and Sole Puree
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Source: Photo courtesy of Weelicious and Catherine McCord
URL: http://weelicious.com

Potatoes, carrots, peas, and fish make for a delicious combination that’s ready to eat in under eight minutes. Vegit is a seasoning ingredient in this recipe which can also be subbed for Mrs. Dash, another low-sodium seasoning. This is a great, simple introduction to fish for your baby.

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12. Butternut Squash and Pear Purée

Butternut squash is a great ingredient because it rarely causes allergies. Pear adds an additional touch of sweetness to this recipe.

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13. Papaya Purée

Papayas have a higher acidity than a lot of other fruits, so it’s best to wait until your baby is 7 to 8 months old to introduce this fruit. The enzymes in papaya (and in pineapple) aid digestion, so this is a perfect food to help relieve your baby’s constipation or tummy troubles.

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9 to 12 Months Old

At 9 to 12 months old, your baby can enjoy chunkier purées and mashes. You can also add whole milk and 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

White Fish, Carrot, and Leek Puree
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Source: Photo courtesy of Baby Food-e
URL: http://www.babyfoode.com

This purée combination is a savory, brain-boosting powerhouse. White fish contains omega-3 fatty acids that help boost development of baby's central nervous system. Leeks provide cardiovascular support and carrots are loaded with antioxidants.

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15. Quinoa Ratatouille

Baby’s first French classic couldn’t be tastier! Traditional ratatouille ingredients meet the super grain, quinoa, in a delightful “gourmet” purée.

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16. Baby Beef Stew

This 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.

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17. Raw Baby Purée of Blueberries, Mango, Avocado, and Mild Chiles

Raw Baby Puree
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Source: Photo courtesy of Baby Food-e
URL: http://www.babyfoode.com

Another nutrient-dense combination, this recipe combines creamy avocado, tangy mango, blueberries, and the interesting addition of mild green chilies!

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18. Creamy Provencal Chicken

This 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.

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19. Quinoa Banana Mash

Quinoa 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.

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20. Cherry and Mint Greek Yogurt Baby Food Purée

cherry and mint yogurt
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Source: Photo courtesy of Baby Food-e
URL: http://www.babyfoode.com

This homemade cherry purée is a delicious topping for the yogurt base. Make sure to use full-fat, organic yogurt!

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21. Apricot and Banana Food with Cinnamon

Spice 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.

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Easy as 1-2-3

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). If you’re worried about transporting your homemade meals, there are tons of high-quality, reusable pouches on the market and many reviews to help you pick the right one for you.