Making Your Own Baby Food: What You'll Need To Get Started
Making your own baby food is easier than you think. We cover everything you need to start making your own baby food, including essential supplies.
It’s an exciting milestone when baby is ready for solids---they’re ready to begin their food adventure.
If you’ve opted to introduce baby food (purees) instead of baby-led weaning, though, there are a few things to keep in mind.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s new Dietary Guidelines for babies under two years of age advise that introducing added sugars may cause baby to prefer overly sweet foods for the rest of their life.
Instead, says the USDA, to encourage healthy lifelong eating habits, baby should be exposed to diverse healthy foods that don’t contain added sugar.
Unfortunately, store-bought purees often contain added sugar, as well as other additives that babies don’t need.
Making your own baby food can ensure that the purees you give baby are healthy and free from added sugar. You’ll also have more control over the flavors and textures you give your baby, so baby’s prepared for a lifetime of adventurous eating.
Although making your own baby food may seem more time-consuming than buying purees, making your own baby food is actually easier than you think. Plus, it can often be cheaper than buying purees off the shelf!
Today, we’ll cover everything you need to start making your own baby food, including essential supplies. We’ll also include links to a few simple recipes to help you get started.
Making Your Own Baby Food: Essential Supplies
Here’s what everyone needs to start making baby food at home. Most of these supplies will be ones you already have!
A blender, immersion blender, or food processor: This is how you’ll puree the baby food to the right texture.
A spoon, fork, or potato masher: To mash up easily mashable foods, including for chunkier purees.
A bowl: To let cooked fruits and vegetables cool, and/or to blend with an immersion blender.
A spatula: To scrape baby food out of the blender or food processor.
A cutting board and knife: To cut up pieces of baby food ingredients before pureeing them.
A vegetable/fruit peeler: To prepare the veggies and fruits as needed.
A pot and steamer: To cook and steam vegetables and fruits so they’re softer and safer for baby. You could also use a slow cooker or pan to soften these ingredients.
A baking tray: To soften/roast vegetables and to soften/bake fruits before pureeing them.
A strainer: To remove seeds and other hard pieces of ingredients from early baby foods, if desired.
Storage containers: To store leftover baby food in the fridge.
A freezer tray and freezer bags: An option to store baby food for longer. You can even feed baby frozen food cubes with a mesh or silicone baby feeder (optional).
You might also decide to splurge on these specialty supplies, but they aren’t necessary:
- An electric steamer
- A baby food grinder
- A multi-purpose baby food maker
Which Ingredients To Use For Baby Food?
When making your own baby food, several of the USDA guidelines provide a foundation for the ingredients you should use.
Usually, baby’s first purees will be fruit- or vegetable-based, with some proteins and/or grains mixed in.
The USDA guidelines recommend prioritizing diverse fruits and vegetables, introducing protein-rich foods including meats, offering foods high in iron and zinc, and prioritizing whole grains. The guidelines recommend avoiding added sugar and added sodium.
But which fruits and vegetables are best? It’s up to you as long as you include a variety of colors, flavors, and (eventually) textures.
You should also avoid seasoning fruits and vegetables in baby food, at least at first, as this will help baby learn to love the natural flavors. Once baby has enjoyed unseasoned food for a bit, stick to natural herbs and cinnamon for any seasoning (if you season at all).
You’ll need to cook almost all fruits and vegetables to soften them at first. (The softest produce, like bananas and avocados, can simply be mashed before pureeing.)
But as baby gets older and more accustomed to different textures, you’ll only need to cook the harder produce (like apples and carrots), to help prevent choking.
Here are just some fruit and vegetable ideas for baby food:
- Cooked apples
- Cooked pears
- Roasted sweet potatoes
- Butternut squash
- Cooked carrots
- Mashed blueberries
- Mashed bananas
- Cooked peaches
- Cooked plums
- Cooked apricots
- Mashed avocados
- Cooked beets
Making Your Own Baby Food: The Prep Process
Here are the basics of preparing baby food.
Fruits and Vegetables
Often, you’ll steam fruits and vegetables to cook them. Here’s how to steam produce:
- Peel the fruits/vegetables as needed.
- Chop the fruits/vegetables.
- Fill your pot about a third of the way up with water.
- Place the steamer insert inside.
- Place the produce in the steamer.
- Place the pot on the stove and bring it to a gentle boil.
- Once it starts to boil, turn the heat to “low.”
- Let the produce simmer until you can easily cut it with a fork.
- Remove the produce from the steamer and let it cool in the bowl.
- Once cool, move on to the pureeing process.
You can also roast, bake, boil (directly in water), or simmer fruits or vegetables before pureeing, like you do for your own meals.
Michelle Muller-Marinis of Petit Organics reviews the main methods for preparing fruits and vegetables:
Proteins (Meats) and Grains
Skin and trim meats/poultry as needed, then cook the meats as you normally would for your own meals (without adding any seasonings).
Cook whole grains following the instructions on the package.
Then, puree the meats or grains by themselves, or along with fruits or vegetables. Mix meats and grains into a fruit or veggie puree/mixture for a balanced meal.
Pureeing Baby Food
Place all the prepared ingredients you’d like to puree together into a blender or food processor. Or, place them in a bowl if you’re using an immersion blender.
Puree the ingredients together until they’re the right texture for baby.
- If you’re making smooth baby food, it will usually take 1-2 minutes to puree. Watch for the “cyclone effect” (where all the ingredients are mixed and circling the blending like a cyclone) to know that you have the right texture.
- If needed, add small amounts of water, breastmilk, or formula during the blending, to help smooth out the puree.
- Scrape down the sides during blending so all the ingredients get incorporated.
- If you’re making stage 3 baby food, stop blending sooner to leave the puree chunky.
- Use the spatula to scrape the finished baby food out of the blender/food processor/bowl.
The Stages Of Baby Food
Just like store-bought baby food, homemade baby food can be classified under three different “stages.” Baby should move through these stages so they gain experience with different textures. Mix baby food to the texture that baby is ready for, and move forward to the next stage when the baby has mastered that texture.
Stage 1: Single-fruit or single-veggie purees that are very smooth. Meant for first solid experiences and introducing new foods.
Stage 2: Multi-ingredient fruit or veggie purees that may include meats or grains. They’re still fairly smooth. But they’re thicker than Stage 1 purees, and they may include extremely small pieces of softer foods.
Stage 3: Chunky, lumpy baby food meant for babies who are ready for a wider variety of textures and chewing small pieces of soft foods.
Again, introducing baby to a variety of textures builds lifelong healthy eating habits, so be sure to introduce chunky purees after baby has mastered smooth ones. Also, aim to introduce finger foods before 9 months of age, either after or while you feed baby purees (for more on finger foods, check out this article). This will ensure that baby develops the mashing-chewing and swallowing skills, and isn’t fearful of gagging.
Tips For Storing Your Own Baby Food
- Make sure that baby food doesn’t stay at room temperature for too long, to keep baby safe. Baby food should only be out at room temperature for up to an hour.
- You can safely store baby food in the fridge, though, for 48-72 hours.
- You can also freeze leftover baby food to store it. Spoon baby purees into a BPA-free ice cube tray, cover the tray with plastic wrap or a cover, and freeze it for between 5 and 24 hours. Then, pop the baby food cubes out of the tray, place them in labeled freezer bags, and freeze the loose cubes again for up to 6 months.
- How to safely thaw frozen baby food? This article from Verywell Family has all the
Easy Baby Food Recipes
Try these baby food recipes for choices that meet the USDA Guidelines:
Stage 1 purees:
Stage 2 purees:
Stage 3 purees:
Check out this article for stage 3 baby foods (chunkier purees, to introduce a variety of textures).
A Note On Introducing Allergy-Causing Foods
Guidelines from the USDA recommend introducing common allergy-causing foods ("peanut, egg, cow milk products, tree nuts, wheat, crustacean shellfish, fish, and soy”) during baby’s first year of life, in age-appropriate ways. But it can be difficult to introduce these foods when your baby is only eating smoother purees.
For an easy, safe way to introduce these foods, Ready, Set, Food! fully mixes with baby’s puree, to give your baby the best chance at food freedom later in life.
All health-related content on this website is for informational purposes only and does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the advice of your own pediatrician in connection with any questions regarding your baby’s health.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
See the FDA Peanut Allergy Qualified Health Claim at the bottom of our homepage.