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A new baby can be an expensive addition. Even if your insurance pays the doctor bills and you're nursing, you still have diapers, baby clothes, and all the little things babies need to worry about. Once your baby is four months old, you also have the expense of baby food to worry about. It doesn't have to be an overwhelming expense, however. You can easily make babyfood at home for less than what you can buy it for in the stores.

EQUIPMENT

In order to make baby food at home, you'll need the following equipment:
1. something to peel the fruits and vegetables
2. something to cut the fruits and vegetables
3. something to cook the fruits and vegetables
4. something that can blend
5. storage

Before you worry about a lot of equipment, understand that you probably already have all the requirements at home.
1. a peeler or small, sharp knife
2. a knife or food processor
3. a steamer or microwave-safe dish
4. a blender, hand-blender, or hand-grinder
5. empty baby food jars, canning jars, or ice cube trays and plastic baggies

STERILIZING

You must sterilize everything you use to make and store babyfood. The simplest method is to wash everything in hot, soapy water. Then boil the jars, lids, or trays for about three minutes. Use tongs to remove all items; they will be hot for five to ten minutes.

PRODUCE

1. Although fresh, organic produce is preferred, non-organic produce can be used if you clean it well. Also, frozen produce (with no additives) will work in a pinch. Never use canned produce.
2. Dried peas work better than fresh or frozen peas. The hulls will be softer and easier to blend.
3. Bananas do not need cooking and will discolor; they will still taste fine.
4. Beets, yams, and sweet potatoes will take a while to steam.
5. Leave citrus fruits out of your baby's diet until your pediatrician approves them. The acid can be damaging to your baby's undeveloped stomach.
6. Leave seeded berries (strawberries, raspberries, etc.) out of your baby's diet until he or she has molars unless you want to remove all the seeds by hand.

MEATS

Do not give your baby meat until your pediatrician has approved it; usually this will be around nine months of age.

PREPARATION

Get all your ingredients and supplies together first. You may also wish to label your babyfood. The two easiest methods are a marker on masking tape or computer-generated labels.

1. Wash all produce.
2. Peel all produce except peas and beans.
3. STEAM all produce (one item at a time). You can steam in the microwave or by using a steamer (collander over a kettle). Boiling produce removes a lot of the vitamins.
4. Blend all produce to the right consistency for your baby:
a. 4-6 months- pureed with no lumps; add water as needed
b. 6-9 months- well-blended and smooth; small (rice-sized) bits are okay
c. 9 months to molars- slightly chunky, but still easy to swallow without more than gumming; this is where you can start blending meat well to add to your baby's food. Remove all fat, gristle and bones; only use fresh meat.
d. molars to table food- blended, but with plenty of soft chunks for a baby to chew on; meat should still be well-blended.
5. Immediately transfer all food to storage containers.
a. Ice cube trays will be approximately one ounce per cube. Once the cubes have frozen solid, transfer to baggies. You can put a meal's worth of cubes in each baggie.
b. Babyfood jars should be labeled with their size (small is usually two ounces; medium is four ounces; large is six ounces).
c. Canning jars usually run in 4-8 ounce sizes.
6. Label as desired. You will want to note the date somewhere.
7. Put all containers in the freezer.

Babyfood is good frozen for 60 days. If you make a 60-day supply each time, you'll only have to make babyfood three to five times before your baby advances to table food. Babyfood is good defrosted or unfrozen for about 48 hours.