Homemade Baby Food Basics
Around the age of 6 months, your baby will be ready to start eating some solid foods. It's an exciting milestone that can be just as fun for the parents as for the baby. You may have heard various "rules" about which foods are appropriate for new eaters and which ones to avoid, but be aware that some of the information that's on the internet and that's been passed down from others can be outdated.
The good news is that the most current guidelines give you and your baby a lot of freedom to experiment. Since 2008, the stance of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has been that after 6 months, there is no compelling reason to delay the introduction of solid foods, including "those considered to be highly allergenic, such as fish, eggs, and foods containing peanut protein." Additionally, the AAP recommends feeding your baby a diverse range of wholesome foods.
Talk to your pediatrician if you have individual concerns about what to feed your baby. Otherwise, have fun sharing the joy of eating with your little one! Here are some first foods we love:
- Winter squash
- Sweet potatoes
- Egg yolks
- Bone broth
How to make baby food
- Prep. Wash, peel, de-seed and do anything else you need to do to get the food ready to cook and eat.
- Cook. The cooking method (boiling, roasting etc.) will vary depending on the ingredients, and some foods, like avocados or bananas, don't need to be cooked at all. The idea here is to cook the food to the point that it can be easily smashed between your thumb and forefinger. See below for specific cooking instructions.
- Puree or mash. How smooth and how runny you serve your baby's first foods depends on your approach and comfort level. You can simply mash an avocado with a fork, or you can thin butternut squash puree with water, breast milk or bone broth. Some choose to skip purees altogether, a practice called baby-led weaning.
- Have fun! Enjoy watching your little one have the new experience of eating solids. Remember that baby is more likely to want to eat foods that have lots of flavor — the same types of foods you would want to eat. After introducing plain fruits and vegetables, don't be afraid to create some interest by adding herbs and spices. Even a little salt is OK — just add enough to enhance flavor but not enough to make the food salty.
Some simple baby food recipes
- Butternut squash puree: Cut a butternut squash (or any winter squash) in half lengthwise, scoop out the pulp and seeds, and rub the cut side with a little oil. Place the squash cut-side down on a baking sheet and cook it in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F until tender (cooking time will vary depending on the size of the squash). Puree it in a food processor or blender until smooth, thinning the puree with water, breast milk or broth if desired. Try combining equal parts butternut squash puree and applesauce (below).
- Avocado mash: Cut an avocado in half, remove the pit and scoop the flesh out of the skin and into a small bowl. Add a splash of olive oil or water and use a fork or potato masher to mash the avocado. Next time, try adding a small pinch of ground cumin.
- Applesauce: Peel and core several apples, then chop them into bite-size pieces. Add the pieces to a pot over medium heat, cover and cook until very soft. Puree in a food processor or blender. Next time, try adding a little ground cinnamon.
- Oatmeal: Add 1 cup of old-fashioned oats and 2 cups of water to a medium pot over high heat. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the oatmeal is very soft. Process the oatmeal in a food processor or blender until it is smooth, adding water or breast milk if desired. Try mixing it with equal parts applesauce or butternut squash (both above).