How to Make Organic Baby Food at Home (And Recipe)
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If you follow any of my recipes, you’ll see that I know a thing or two about making smoothies. In my last post, I discussed the reasons to make your own baby food instead of buying store brands. Today, I want to follow up that post and talk about how to make organic baby food at home. It is incredibly similar to making fresh fruit smoothies and it shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, what is baby food but pureed fruits, veggies, and other whole foods? Kind of like a smoothie. Makes me wonder which came first: the smoothie or the baby food.
Like a smoothie, baby food is pretty straightforward. In fact, in many ways, it is easier than making smoothies. Or at least smoothies made with frozen fruits. The reason for this is the heat from the friction of the blender blades actually melts the fruit while it is blending. So there is a time limit on how long you want to run your blender otherwise you’ll come out with a runny drink. But with baby food, everything is already at room temperature so worse case you warm it up a little while running your blender.
Why choose organic food over conventional?
Organic foods are grown or processed without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, growth hormones, or antibiotics unlike their conventional counterparts. In that processed, organically grown foods usually tend to have more nutrients and less heavy metals and nitrates. However, as stated in my previous post, that isn’t always the case. Organically grown foods also are better for the environment. The pesticides and fertilizers used in conventional agriculture do end up in our soil and water.
Organically raised animals are not raised with growth hormones and antibiotics. In conventional farming, animal feed is laced with antibiotics to limit diseases and synthetic hormones to speed up the growth process. Residue from these chemicals may be present in the meat we are consuming.
Unfortunately, most people (at least in the US) cannot afford an exclusively organic diet. If you are like me, I try to at least mitigate this some when it comes to my child. The reason is infants are more susceptible to the potentially harmful effects of these chemicals than adults since they consume more food per pound of body weight than adults and toxins are stored in fat which babies have more of.
How do you decide what to buy organic? A lot of that depends on what kinds of foods your child is eating. My daughter eats a lot of vegetables so I usually try to buy organic any produce that is on the “dirty dozen” list to start with. If your child eats a lot of meat, then consider buying any organic meats specifically for them. If they drink a lot of milk, the same thing.
If you can’t afford to buy organic at all, don’t sweat it. As long as you are giving them a healthy diet of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and proteins that are minimally processed, you are doing a great job.
Defining Age Appropriate Foods
But before we bust out the equipment and start blending, it’d be best to talk about a few things first. The age of your child really dictates what kinds of foods you should be serving up to them and how much. It is suggested by the World Health Organization not to start a baby on solid foods until they are 6 months old. At 6 months, the foods should be complementary to breastmilk or formula but not replacing it. Increase the amount gradually as the child gets older.
From 6 to 8 months:
Start with just one type of food when your child is just beginning. I highly recommend avoiding fruits for the first few months and sticking only to grains, protein, and vegetables. The flavors that they taste at the beginning define what types of foods they will accept when they get older. If you start them on fruits, it is very likely they will reject other foods in favor of those.
It’s a really good idea to start simple and do not add any salt or sugar. Avoid highly acidic foods and keep all foods offered cooked at this stage. I stayed away from seasonings at the beginning as well but you don’t have to.
Whatever grains, proteins, and vegetables you choose to start with, just cook the grains or meat (or steam them gently in the case of vegetables and fruit) and puree them in a blender with enough water to get a thin consistency. I noticed my girl had problems if the puree was too thick as she would gag on it a lot. If you make the puree too thick, (no worries!) just add a little water (or breastmilk) to thin it out.
A quick tip that worked for me was adding a little breastmilk to her puree for the first month or two. Not only did she get more breastmilk in her day which was always a plus but she seemed to accept the food more readily.
From 8 to 12 months:
Once solids have been established you can start to mix them up. Seasonings can also be added but err on the side of very little as baby taste buds are sensitive to flavors. Until they are a year old it is suggested to avoid highly acidic foods and high allergy foods like shrimp or peanut butter. Although there is evidence that states the opposite and in fact feeding them foods known to be a common food allergy earlier can prevent food allergies later. If you are interested in reading about this, go here.
Either route you decide to take, it is always good to discuss them with your child’s pediatrician beforehand.
From 12 to 24 months old:
Once they are a year old, then complimentary foods start to become the staple and breastmilk (or cow’s milk) become the supplemental food. At this age things start to get really fun! Foods have been established by this point and your baby has made preferences on the types of foods they like to eat. But pretty much any type of food is fair game at this stage. Just use caution when introducing any of the allergenic foods.
Please keep in mind that all this information is a brief summary of the whole process. Please consult with your pediatrician for more information and portion sizes appropriate to your child’s individual needs and health.
Tips on How To Make Baby Food
Whether you buy organic or conventional food, making baby food is incredibly easy.
As stated earlier, basic one ingredient foods are pureed with water or breastmilk. As you get more complex with the foods, I try to do items in ratios. I typically do a ratio of 2 parts grain like oat, barley, or rye to 1 part fruit or meat and 1 part vegetable respectively. Of course, you don’t have to do this. Play with it and find out what mixtures work for you and your little one.
Also, I like to make purees that don’t separate after sitting in the fridge or freezer. The best way I have found to counter this is to add half an avocado to the mix. If your baby isn’t ready for or has an allergy to avocado, foods with high soluble fiber will also help like oats or beans.
Other foods that are great to include in baby food are hemp and chia seeds. If you choose to add one of these I usually add it at 1 tablespoon for chia per 4 ounces of total puree and 1 teaspoon of hemp seeds per the same amount.
If you’d like to make your puree a little sweeter, just add coconut water instead of plain water. I would highly suggest not using juice because there is little nutritional value and it’s basically sugar water. But if you do choose to use it try to dilute it to half juice and half water.
If you’d like to add seasonings, start with 1/4 teaspoon per batch and add more at that rate until you find the amount your child likes. Good beginner seasonings are cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, cumin, oregano, basil, thyme, and rosemary.
If you’d like to freeze your baby food like I do. You can use ice cube trays, glass jars, or get some reusable baby food pouches. General safety for stored baby food is 3 days in fridge and 3 months in freezer.
Apple, Blueberry, Beets, and Barley
Here’s an easy baby food recipe to get you started that is appropriate for any age as long as it has been established as safe foods beforehand.
- 3/4 cup organic apples with skins (1 medium)
- 1/4 cup organic blueberries
- 1 cup organic beets peeled
- 2 cups rolled organic barley
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon or cardamom (optional)
- enough coconut water or plain water to reach desired thickness (approx. 1 cup)
- Boil whole beets in water for 30 minutes or until can be easily pierced with a fork. Once done let it cool enough to handle. Cut ends and peel off skins (usually skins will come off by hand).
- Chop apples into chunks with skins on. Place them in a steamer basket and steam for 5-10 minutes.
- Place blueberries in a steamer basket and steam for 3-5 minutes.
- For barley, cook 1 cup of barley to 3 cups of water until all water is absorbed (usually 20 minutes).
- Place all ingredients in the blender with water. Blend everything to desired thickness and consistency.
- Immediately serve, refrigerate, or freeze.
If you don’t have rolled barley, you can substitute oats. Also, you can add 1/2 avocado to this as well for a creamier consistency.
That’s all there is to it!
So what kinds of foods does your little one love?
You can make all sorts of veggie and fruit combinations to suit any palate. I’ve had success with pears and carrots, apples and sweet potatoes, strawberries and rhubarb, and peaches and kale or spinach to name a few.
Also, if you are looking for a good blender, I recommend the Vitamix 5200.
I hope that you have found this article helpful. If you will be looking for further inspiration, I will begin posting some of my favorite (or more I should say my girl’s favorite) baby food recipes in following weeks so I hope to see you soon!
If you have any questions or tricks you’d like to share, I would love to hear from you. Just leave a comment below and I will get back to you soon!