Pull out the bibs. Your little one is hitting a major milestone—eating solids. It’s an exciting time of researching and trying different homemade baby food recipes, storage techniques, and maybe even baby food makers.
With so much to learn and look into on this next leg of the journey, you likely have tons of questions about baby food for your infant. Here, we’ll cover:
When Do Babies Start Eating Baby Food?
Babies begin showing signs they’re ready to start exploring solids around six months. At this age, they have some trunk control and are able to hold their torsos upright. They’ll also show other signs of being ready to start baby food like being interested in your food, being able to support the weight of their heads, and being able to grasp objects or food between their thumb and forefinger.
Learn more about introducing solids.
Homemade Baby Food Recipes: 6-8 Months
There are three important factors to consider when choosing baby’s first foods:
- Nutrient density: Babies have special nutritional needs and benefit from a mixture of animal and plant-based foods.
- Digestibility: Because baby’s digestive system is still very small and immature, baby needs the most nutritional bang for his/her buck.
- Taste variety: Exposing baby to a wide range of tastes and textures from an early age helps expand his/her appetite for different foods. (This is critical if you want to avoid having a picky eater on your hands!)
When baby is just beginning to eat solids, try single-food purees based on these great first foods or very simple combinations. These recipes and combos are a good place to start:
Banana and avocado
This delicious combo is easy to mash together for a satiating meal or snack. High in healthy fats, enzymes, prebiotics, and potassium, this combo has that sweet/fatty flavor that babies love… after all, breast milk has a similar profile!
- Scoop half a ripe avocado into a bowl.
- Add a ripe banana (the peel should be bright yellow with a few brown dots).
- Use a fork to mash the two foods together until a smooth consistency. (You can add a dash of breast milk or formula if your baby prefers a smoother texture.)
Squash and pear
Squash is easy to digest, plus high in vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, and manganese. Pear is high in fiber, vitamin C (so excellent for constipated babies!) and serves as a natural sweetener to help make this recipe more palatable to new eaters.
- Peel and cube one medium squash and one ripe pear.
- Fill a pot with 2 inches of water. Place a steamer basket inside. Add squash and pear and steam until soft, approximately 15-20 minutes.
- Use an immersion blender to puree. (FYI: You can use a bit of the steamed water to thin out puree if desired.)
Carrots and peas
This classic combo provides a great way to give your baby tons of nutrients like vitamin A, slow-releasing, energy-providing carbs, folate, and fiber.
- Peel and roughly chop two large carrots.
- Fill a pot with 2 inches of water. Place a steamer basket inside. Add carrots and steam approximately 10 minutes. Add peas and steam until everything is soft, approximately 5-10 minutes more.
- Use an immersion blender to puree.
Beef and stewed apples
Beef is high in both zinc and iron, two key nutrients for baby’s optimal health and growth. Lean, tender cuts are the best options. Choose tenderloin roast, strip steak, eye of round roast, or freshly ground beef.
- Core and peel one apple.
- Simmer the apple and 1/4 cup of water over medium-low heat until soft, approximately 20 minutes.
- Place 8 ounces of cold, cooked beef in a blender. Add stewed apple and 1/4 cup of water. Blend until smooth.
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Homemade Baby Food Recipes: 8-10 months
By the time baby is around 8 months old, you should begin to incorporate finger foods, if you haven’t already. Read about baby led weaning for more info on how to do so.
Around this time, you can also begin to introduce a wider range of foods, including:
- Stone fruits: plums, peaches, nectarines, prunes
- Green veggies: broccoli, asparagus, fennel, zucchini
- Seed-like grains: quinoa, amaranth, millet, buckwheat (just be sure to soak the grains—they’re easier to digest this way)
- Spices and flavors: minced garlic, diced onion, cinnamon, clove, oregano, thyme (start off with a scant amount, increasing as baby adjusts to stronger flavors)
- Good fats: coconut oil, grass-fed butter, chicken or beef liver, coconut milk, avocado (a very small amount—like 1 teaspoon—is enough)
Note: Don’t add salt to baby’s food—real food contains enough natural salt for baby’s needs.
These recipes and combos are a good place to start:
Chicken and plum puree
- Peel, pit, and dice three plums.
- Cut raw chicken breast into 1-inch pieces.
- Place plums and cut chicken into a pot with 1 cup of water.
- Simmer until chicken in fully cooked, approximately 20 minutes.
- Use a blender to puree fully or macerate.
Blueberry, quinoa, and cinnamon
- Soak quinoa, then cook according to package directions. (Or you this sprouted quinoa from TruRoots.)
- Use an immersion blender to puree cooked quinoa with fresh blueberries.
- Add a pinch of cinnamon.
Best oatmeal ever
This simple, easy, and delicious oatmeal is both mom and toddler approved.
Salmon and sweet potato
- Peel and roughly chop one large sweet potato
- Fill a pot with 2 inches of water. Place a steamer basket inside. Place sweet potato in the basket and steam for 10 minutes.
- Add a 4-ounce defrosted salmon filet and steam for 10 minutes more, until sweet potato is tender and fish is cooked through and flaky.
- Add a 1/4 cup of chicken or vegetable broth.
- Use an immersion blender to puree or chop into fine pieces.
Tropical Spirulina Smoothie
This is one of my all-time favorite smoothie recipes (and babies love it, too!). It’s healthy, but it’s also sweet, smooth, and green.
How to Store Homemade Baby Food
Unlike many store-bought baby foods, homemade baby food must refrigerated or frozen. After preparing, don’t leave it out at room temperature for more than two hours. And always store in airtight containers, like these from Sage Spoonfuls. Small sanitized mason jars also work.
It’s a good idea to store homemade baby food in 1-2 tablespoon servings for easy defrosting, mixing, and serving without tons of food waste. (This storage set is perfect for freezing small portions of food!) Remember, any remaining food from a feeding must be tossed.
Baby food made with meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs can be safely stored in the fridge for 24 hours, while baby food made from fruits and veggies can be stored for 48 hours. Both can stay in the freezer for up to one month.
Tips for Making Baby Food
Skip the fancy equipment
There are tons of fancy baby food maker appliances that make preparing, storing, and serving homemade baby food a breeze. Two consistently top-rated options are made by Béaba and QOOC.
But the truth is, you really don’t need anything fancy to make quality baby food at home. All you need is a pot for steaming and a blender or an immersion blender. Heck, even a potato masher, ricer, spoon, or fork will do.
Keep it simple
While it’s tempting to go all-in on this exciting milestone, it’s important to start with single-ingredient foods prepared simply without a lot of extra salt, fat and spices. This approach not only allows your baby to get used to new textures and flavors, but also helps you pinpoint any allergies or sensitivities, should you child have a reaction to something.
Introducing solids doesn’t have to be hard. Instead of making new baby foods every day, batch cook and freeze individual servings so you can whip out nutritious meals for baby quickly.
Also, combine baby’s food with family meal planning. For example, making roasted sweet potatoes and steamed squash for the family this week? Make extra, then chop, mash, or puree for baby. (These are great storage contraptions to put single servings in freezer or fridge for later.) Just be sure to omit fancy spices or salt on baby’s portion since their digestive tract is more sensitive.
- Always wash your hands before preparing or handling food. This simple practice will go a long way in keeping you and your family healthy.
- Avoid contamination. Uncooked meat, eggs, poultry, and seafood should be kept away from cooked food. Meat, eggs, poultry, and seafood should be stored away from produce in the refrigerator. And use different cutting boards and utensils for unprepared animal-based food and produce, as well as cooked and raw food.
- If you’re using well water, make sure to check the nitrate levels. Consuming high amounts of nitrates can be dangerous for babies.
- Clean produce and don’t use bruised or otherwise damaged produce to make baby food. For tougher produce, like beets and carrots, use a clean scrub brush and running water. For more delicate vegetables, a simple rinse with water will do.
I Don’t Have Time to Make Homemade Baby Food!
Though there are definitely benefits to going the DIY route, there are also plenty of quality baby food brands out there. Even if you decide to go 100 percent homemade, it’s still a good idea to keep a few shelf-stable options on hand in case of emergencies.
Some brands to check out include:
You can also do a hybrid approach again. I made “smoothies” by mixing Earth’s Best fruit purees with organic whole yogurt and fed Griffin in a cup with straw.
This is a time to have fun exploring new foods with your baby. You’re setting the stage for a healthy future for your little one. With each spoonful or handful, baby is getting nutrients and learning to love new and nourishing flavors.