Thoughts on baby food?

I apologize in advance for having two posts in a row about feeding a baby, but it is an important topic in my life right now! I’m sure one of the Builders has written about this at some point and I missed it when I was a reader (maybe not?), but I’m looking for some feeding advice. As I wrote here I am still nursing (hooray!) and will continue doing so hopefully for several more months. Even so, we have started Pia on some baby food here and there and though we are not jumping headlong into feeding her full meals, we want her to get used to different tastes and textures (plus it’s helping her sleep better! Sign me up!).

Here’s the rub: while I envisioned making my own baby food when it came to it, a month into this process my initial “I’m just going to get some Gerber to get us started” has never really transitioned into me making anything on a regular basis. I’ll admit it, the convenience is totally sucking me in!

Then there’s been Pia’s reaction. My first attempt made her gag, and because I tried to use our large food processor I was then the proud owner of a ton of gag-worthy puree. I know this was probably just the veggie I chose and I wouldn’t get that reaction always, but still, potentially costly experiments. In theory, I think I would like to puree some of what my husband and I are having at any given meal (as long as it doesn’t contain anything on the “no-list” for babies under a year), but you can’t do that in a large processor. I would also like to have some pre-made fruits and veggies ready to go so that I don’t necessarily have to do this every meal, but, again, don’t want to make a year’s supply.

So I have several questions…first, for those of you who have made your own food, did you buy any special device? This seems slightly high maintenance, but after the attempt above small batches seem more desirable and maybe it’s just necessary? If so, did you go with a simple (and more economical) hand processor/mill or one of the baby food makers? Secondly, any approaches for actually making the food? Have you made batches of different things ahead and reheated or just stuck to serving what the rest of the family is having? Any advice or thoughts are appreciated!

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  • Jennifer

    I have made baby food for both of my kids and have had good luck making and freezing big batches. Once you have a freezer store, it’s almost as convenient as gerber just to get out a cube or two and reheat. We also keep some pre-made baby food around for the times that we will need to feed the baby outside of the house, because I don’t want to carry around frozen or partially frozen food and have to deal with reheating it somewhere.
    Generally I start with one ingredient at a time, cook it, grind it in the food processor with extra water as necessary to get to the right consistency, and then freeze it in cubes. (There are a lot of options for baby food trays on amazon.) I make a big batch at once and store the cubes in a labeled ziploc bag in the freezer. Some easy ones–roast a butternut squash; put some sweet potatoes in the microwave; steam zucchini, carrots, parsnips, or broccoli; cook a bag of frozen peas, green beans, blueberries, or cherries. (Actually, some of these can just be mashed with a fork and you don’t even have to get the food processor out.) Apples and pears can be cooked just like you are making applesauce–cut up the fruit, add a little water, cook until the fruit breaks down. As the baby gets older and has tried the single ingredients with no allergy issues, I make food with more ingredients, grind, and freeze. For example, chicken thighs, carrots, apple, squash, zucchini all steamed together. Or lamb, beets, and zucchini (though the latter one turned out to be a disturbing red color).
    Where we can, we have started offering very small pieces of what the rest of us are eating for dinner to the baby (8.5 months) as finger foods, but haven’t made great progress on that yet.

  • Kat0427

    J ~ Great topic!

    We had an immersion blender with a chopper attachment, similar to this one but with a larger chopper container:

    The immersion blender doesn’t even get dirty – you somehow stick it on top of the chopper container and it blends up the food inside! I felt like it did a great job on small batches, which worked better for us since we have very limited freezer space. My kids also seemed to like the fresh batches better. For frozen, though, I used something like this:

    Best of luck! I hear you on the waste of money on large batches. I remember a similar incident with fried salmon patties for my first-born…

  • Kat0427

    Also, I should add that I have always coveted one of those Beaba food makers, and think that it would actually be a good investment for a first-born child. By the time I was in a position to purchase one, we were on baby #3 and I didn’t feel like I could justify it 🙂

  • J’

    ooo. That’s helpful actually; we have an immersion blender but I didn’t realize there were attachments that would allow to make smaller batches…;) And thanks for the other comment too — yes, I’m looking longingly at the Beaba right now, but we’ll see.;)

  • J’

    There are some really helpful things in here. Not only the type of food thoughts but I hadn’t thought of the ziplock option, which seems like it would mean you wouldn’t have to buy as many containers to keep the food in after its frozen. Thanks for writing in!

  • Second the immersion blender! Love mine and I have the attachment that is like a mini food processor.

  • Bethany

    Kat, I could have written this same comment. I became acquainted with a Beaba food maker many children too late and could never justify the expense. It could solve all your problems because it steams and pureés in one! Otherwise, you could steam large batches and freeze them in extra ice cube trays. Remove them after frozen and store the cubes in a freezer Ziploc and then grab and warm as needed. I did this with #1 and #2, but by #3, I did more on-the-spot pureéing. By #4 and #5, we were almost 75% store-bought food. Same with cloth diapering! 🙂

  • Amy B

    I found with my first two that some things are tastier and worth having homemade (apples, pears, banana), some things are better store bought (peas, green beans, squash, mixture foods) and some things are sometimes tastier homemade but too much work (sweet potato, apricot, etc.). With my third (who will start solids in a month), I plan to make the easy/yummy ones homemade and leave the rest to Gerber. :). Sometimes I wonder if their veggies are healthier than what I can make because they use the freshest and don’t use the microwave!?!? One warning about the baby blenders: I read that if the blade gets dull, it is a huge waste of money.

  • Amy B

    I forgot to say that the ones I make homemade I try to cook only to soften. Pears I don’t cook at all. For older babies I add cinnamon to apples after boiling just to soften. Bananas and avocado require no cooking obviously. I used to blend mine in the magic bullet. I have heard immersion blenders are great though. This time I plan to use our new Blendtec.

  • buildingcathedralstexasmommy

    I totally disagree about it being a good investment! There are may plastic parts, not heavy duty motors, prone to break. If you have a food processor and a steamer basket it is far cheaper and more efficient to use those!! I think they are really an expensive marketing gimmick!

  • buildingcathedralstexasmommy

    Our boys have only eaten homemade baby food. One warning: if you go this route, they may reject jarred food. This happened to us at Queen B’s wedding, so our 1 year old ate only ripe bananas for 3 days. I just mention b/c I know you travel a lot, so if it will be necessary to use premade sometimes, you may need to introduce it along side any homemade food. When we travel we are with grandparents at their place or a condo with a kitchen, so it hasn’t really been an issue. I can always throw a sweet potato in the oven or steam some vegetable.

    By the time we introduce solids, our kids move pretty quickly into textures. After the original introduction to be sure they aren’t allergic, I do season like we eat (salt, pepper, cinnamon) and all but 1 are excellent eaters. So when I say we make “baby food” we don’t do totally bland goo. I think that you are helping to develop their palate from the first bite, but I am also a food snob!! I do not make a separate kids meals.

    I would not use a microwave to cook baby food. Bake in oven or steam on stovetop. I freeze extra cubes in a silicone tray and put in a labeled bag in freezer and defrost in fridge when needed.

  • Jennifer

    Am I missing something on the microwave? I have always thought it is just as good a way to cook something as any other method (and better, maybe, than boiling). See, e.g.,

  • I try not to cook anything in the microwave as I have read in numerous places that is significantly alters the nutritional makeup of food. I cook baby food stovetop or in the oven, then puree, for a higher nutritional punch. I honestly would purchase it from the store before I would cook it in the microwave.

  • J’

    That’s a good point, thanks!

  • Jennifer

    Interesting. What I am finding online suggests there is minimal nutritional difference between food cooked in the microwave vs conventional oven vs stovetop, assuming in any case that not much water is used. See the Harvard link above, as well as this:$=relatedreviews&logdbfrom=pubmed

    and this:

    This NY Times article discusses the issue and concludes that microwaving is fine–interestingly, it appears that in one commonly cited study where microwaved broccoli lost 74-97% of its antioxidants, it was microwaved in water. Of course, boiling in water on the stovetop would also cause leaching.

    Some sources suggest that microwaving might even be preferable in terms of retaining nutrients because cooking times are less:

  • Elizabeth

    We happily did “Baby Led Weaning” for our first two kids. (We’ll see with #3, still in-utero.) It does require nursing (or bottle feeding) on demand during the day until the baby can feed themselves a full meal. Which admittedly makes it unrealistic for most situations. It did eliminate the making or purchasing of any purees for us (and all the spooning!). I think a lot of “BLW” ideas of what to feed when and how to introduce food could be used alongside a more traditional approach with purees. I found the baby led weaning book rather extreme, but it’s worth a flip through in the library. (

  • Mama A

    I make my own baby food and put the purees in ice cube trays. Once they are frozen, I dump them into a big gallon ziplock bag – presto, one ounce servings of food that I can defrost at will (I’ve also done this with breastmilk too, lol). I just label the batches by date and ingredient(s). This makes it much easier to offer say, chicken, apples, and green beans to an older baby. You could defrost one cube of chicken, three of apples, and two of green beans easily.

    I will second giving baby small bits of whatever you are eating for dinner. Peas, cut up bananas, chopped avocado, chopped up potato, sweet potato, squash, and steamed apples are all great for self-feeding. Pasta shells are also easy for babies to pick up.

    Also, I make my own baby cereal. Just throw oatmeal, rice cereal, grits, quinoa, etc. in the food processor and chop, then cook as usual 🙂

  • J’

    Great, helpful. Thanks!

  • Mrs Gregory

    When my babies have shown interest (somewhere between 6-8 months) I just pick foods from the table they can eat. I think Mary’s first food were whole peaches and gyros. Seriously. I am a huge fan of not doing extra work and I’ve never really pureed anything. If they can’t eat something from my table, then they nurse. Or get applesauce or yogurt or something I didn’t have to make special for them. They are decent eaters now.

  • Erica

    I have also done homemade baby foods using a magic bullet and freezing extras in ice cube trays. There is a website that I’ve used that has all kinds of great recipes for baby food and when it is best to introduce them. It also discusses preparing and storing baby food. I always find it helpful. I’ve always thought it sounded good to give the baby what the family is eating, but have never been able to do to allergy concerns.

  • Harmony

    Another vote here for “don’t bother with the purees.” I mostly bought Gerber etc for my first, and did some grinding/pureeing of foods my husband and I were eating. But with number two I tried several different pureed foods and she refused everything. Tried “real food” (soft cooked carrot, apple, pork chops were an early favorite!) and she has been an awesome eater. I didn’t know what “baby-led weaning” was until I was already doing it. I just cut things up in small pieces, or gave her big enough chunks that she could hold on to them and gnaw them. Really, super-easy, and more in line with how babies have been fed for millenia! My daughter now just turned one and she still eats everything in sight. She also is now willing to have me spoon feed her things like yogurt and applesauce, so she got over her need to be in charge.

  • Harmony

    Amen, Jennifer! The microwave just heats the water in the food. Such a useful tool.

  • J’

    Interesting. I also had a long conversation about this with a non-Builder friend yesterday and she’s had a ton of successes with this approach too. Thanks for the help and thoughts!

  • FYW

    Pick know I’m late to the conversation but we did combo purees with some baby-led weaning. I would say they won’t eat purees long enough (although I have seen some children out and about with purees still) to make it worth up getting a special machine. M started eating some non-purees at 7 months despite not getting teeth until 1 year. It’s so nice that we only spoon fed for a few months!

    Also, worth freezing even if Pia doesn’t seem to like it at first. What they say is true, if you keep offering the same thing, she might accept and like it after a few (or more than a few) tries. Everything is bizarre to them at first! Good luck!