How Can I Make my Own Pureed Baby Food?
Read time: 7 minutes
What to know about making your own baby food
- Advantages to making your own baby food purees
- Supplies you need to get started
- Cooking methods to make homemade baby food
- Baby food puree recipes to get you started
Once your little one is ready to start solids, the next question often asked is: Do I make baby’s food or buy it? The store offers many baby food options, but making at least some of the food at home may allow for even more variety.
With a little bit of planning and use of some of the utensils you likely already have around the house, making homemade baby food doesn’t have to be as daunting as it sounds.
What are some advantages of making your baby’s pureed food?
- Greater control over what you feed your baby: You can use a wider variety of ingredients that are not always available in store-bought baby food.1,10
- Money saver! Did you know the price of 2 to 3 containers of baby food is almost equal to that of 4 to 6 pears, which can create enough pureed food for 10 or more meals for your baby?1
- May help reduce picky eating: Repeatedly offering a greater variety of foods, as well as foods the family eats (with minor changes in textures and ingredients to meet your baby’s needs), may help make your little one a more adventurous eater, even into childhood.2
Read more: Introducing Solids: First Foods & Textures
You might be worried that you need an elaborate kitchen setup and all new kitchen tools to make your baby’s purees, but the good news is that you likely have many of the tools already needed to whip up some homemade baby food!
Here is a list of some of the tools that can be used to make homemade baby food:
- Vegetable peeler
- Pot for boiling or steaming
- Sheet pan for baking
- Steamer basket
- Blender or food processor
- Fork and knife
- Food mill
- Potato masher
- Ice cube trays
Let’s get cooking!
Following proper food safety is especially important when cooking for children and especially for baby’s first foods.3 Babies are more prone to foodborne illness than older children or healthy adults, so always wash your hands, rinse the food items, clean your work area, cook foods to their recommended internal temperatures, and avoid cross-contamination.3
For more specifics on proper food safety protocols, see Food Safety for Babies and Toddlers
What cooking methods should I use when making baby food?
There are many cooking options available for pureeing food for your baby. Each method has pros and cons in terms of ease and retention of nutritional value:
- Steaming: A very popular (and easy!) method, steaming allows for minimal nutrient loss and the leftover water can be used as stock for pureeing.4
- Boiling or Stewing: While also convenient, this cooking method results in greater nutrient loss into the surrounding water. To recoup these nutrients, you can use the cooking water when you make a puree or broth.4
- Baking or Roasting: Great for making large quantities in the oven. Baked food items retain a good amount of their nutrients.4,5
- Microwave Cooking: Super easy but mainly best used for only small quantities. Be aware that microwaving may lead to uneven cooking and hot spots in the food or liquids.6
- Pressure Cooking: This technique may require additional kitchen equipment but retains much of the foods’ nutrients because this method uses very little water and is fairly quick.5
- Grilling: Babies and small children can eat grilled foods. When grilling, aim for a low temperature and avoid burning or charring meats.7
- Sautéing and stir-frying: Another fast and flavorful option!
*Note that the longer you cook a food for and the higher the temperature used in cooking, the more nutrients may be lost.5
What foods should I cook for baby?
Fruits, vegetables, grains, and meats can all be cooked and pureed into baby food. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states there is no specific order that foods should be introduced.8
Some foods need to be avoided as they are choking hazards. Read more on Preventing Choking
Here’s how to prepare homemade foods for your baby:
Always cook vegetables before serving to your baby – steaming, roasting, or baking are the best methods. Once cooked, softer vegetables like sweet potatoes and squash need only be mashed with a fork or potato masher.
If the vegetable has a thick skin, like green beans or peas, push the cooked food through a strainer or sieve to remove the tougher parts. You can also just use a very powerful food processor or blender to puree the entire vegetable once cooked!
Try adding herbs such as oregano, rosemary, or dill; or spices such as cumin, ginger, or curry powder.
Certain fruits, like avocados and bananas; or very ripe pears, mango, and peaches; require no cooking before feeding to your baby. Simply peel then mash them up with a fork or blend quickly.
Other harder fruits, like apples, firmer pears, and underripe nectarines and mangos can be baked or steamed to soften them up for a puree. Simply halve or quarter your fruit of choice, remove the skin, remove the core, pit, or seeds. Place the cut fruit in a shallow baking dish with about 1 inch of water in a 400F degree oven.
Bake for 20-40 minutes, or until fruit is tender, then allow to cool before pureeing in a blender or dicing for finger food.
You can even sprinkle the fruit with ginger, nutmeg, or cinnamon!
Grains and Cereals
You can make your own baby cereal at home using whole grains such as oatmeal, brown rice, or barley.
Finely grind the uncooked grain using a coffee grinder, food processor, or blender. Then cook the powder in water for 15 minutes until you get a thin, soupy consistency. You can also cook the raw grain whole, as you normally would for yourself, and then puree or mash. But this method can sometimes create a pasty consistency.
Yes, you can even puree meat for your baby using a food mill or blender. Cook the meat to well-done before pureeing (but avoid luncheon, cured, and smoked meats at this stage due to the high salt and additive content).9
If you have questions on how to make these recipes, or are looking for more ideas, reach out to our team of registered dietitian nutritionists and lactation consultants for free! They’re here to help on our free to live chat from Monday through Friday, from 8am–6pm (ET). Chat now!
Tips for preparing homemade baby food
Avoid adding salt or sugar to baby food
Our little one’s food preferences are formed early in life, so avoiding or severely limiting these strong added flavors before the age of one is important. In fact, the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for American recommends no added sugar at all before the age of 2 years.12
Additionally, you want your baby to experience and get used to the true flavors of food so that they are more likely to accept them in the future!11
Read more: Minimizing Added Sugar
Find the right texture for baby’s puree
Find the right consistency for your purees. Most babies start with thinner purees and work their way up to thicker ones as they learn to manage food in their mouth and then swallow.
- If you need to thin your puree for a younger baby, try adding reserved cooking water, no-salt-added veggie stock, prepared formula, or breastmilk.
- If you need to thicken up your puree for an older baby, it can sometimes be as simple as adding less liquid. You can also try adding baby cereal, plain whole milk yogurt, wheat germ, mashed low-sodium cottage cheese, mashed banana, pureed sweet potato, or pureed tofu.
Note that food textures can – and often do – change in the freezer. For example, certain fruits and vegetables like blueberries, pears, and eggplant contain a lot of water and can become quite runny when thawed. You may need to tinker with the consistency either before or after freezing some of these homemade purees.
Advance textures when your baby is ready
Advancing textures steadily as your baby is ready will help develop their oral motor skills as well as prepare them to be more adventurous eaters.11
Start with thinner purees and then move to thicker purees over several weeks as your baby’s chewing and swallowing skills becomes more coordinated.
Once your little one can handle thick purees, it’s time to move onto lumpy purees as they prepare for soft solids.
Storing your homemade baby food
After making a batch of baby food, either use the food right away or freeze it in small portions in an ice cube tray. Once frozen, pop out and place into a freezer-safe air-tight bag to help save room in your freezer. Be sure to label the bag with type of food and the date it was made.
For more information: How to Store Baby Food
We know parenting often means sleepless nights, stressful days, and countless questions and confusion, and we want to support you in your feeding journey and beyond.
Our Happy Baby Experts are a team of lactation consultants and registered dietitian nutritionists certified in infant and maternal nutrition – and they’re all moms, too, which means they’ve been there and seen that. They’re here to help on our free, live chat platform Monday through Friday, from 8am–6pm (ET). Chat Now!
Read more about the experts that help write our content!