Baby Food Recipes
November 14, 2008 10:33 AM   Subscribe

Share your baby food recipes!

In a month or so our baby daughter will be making the jump to solid foods, and we plan on making our own. Any advice on preparing, storing, and using homemade mush?
posted by swift to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
I made all of my baby food. I never needed recipes, really. But they are fun, especially when you want to combine flavors. A Cuisinart and a potato masher comes in handy. I would even buy frozen pureed butternut squash and other frozen pureed veggies from time to time. Frozen is often times just as good as fresh or better.

Whatever veg you and your husband are having for dinner, blend it up and serve.

Freeze pureed veg in ice cube trays. I did this a lot. I would cook an entire squash,or sweet potatoes, or peas, or whatever, and puree and freeze. After the blocks are frozen store in a freezer bag or container. It's easy to pull one or two out to heat for mealtimes.
posted by Fairchild at 10:43 AM on November 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

buying a food mill was useful when we were at this point. Cool Tools review.
posted by mecran01 at 10:47 AM on November 14, 2008

Avocado + banana is a quick, no-cook combo. Just put them in a bowl and take the potato masher to it.
posted by mikepop at 10:49 AM on November 14, 2008

For us, the pureed baby food stage lasted about two weeks, tops. My son was much more interested in finger foods, things he could gum and practice his finger dexterity. So we didn't spend a whole lot of time making pureed stuff. Even before he really could manage feeding himself, he was always much more interested in what we were eating than traditional baby food. So we very quickly transitioned to cubes of avocado, banana, tofu, sweet potato, roasted acorn squash, etc. He loves chasing peas around his tray but won't touch them pureed. As with all things baby, YMMV.

I would highly recommend Ellyn Satter's book, Child of Mine- it's a fabulous resource for all your baby-feeding questions.
posted by ambrosia at 10:55 AM on November 14, 2008

Best answer: I got most of my baby food recipes and advice from a great site, Most baby food "recipes" are really just about steaming and pureeing fruit and veggies for a while, so there's not much to it. As baby gets older and more dexterous, you will want ideas for tasty nutritious finger foods, and the site has those too. the other great thing about that site is that she provides lots of really great up-to-date info on baby food safety (prep, storing, allergies, what foods to introduce when). If you can find the forum (which is a bit hidden) and post questions, you will get awesome info direct from the site owner and other moms. Its a very quiet forum, but that does mean you almost guarantee getting a personalised answer.

I will also say that the question of which foods to introduce when, and how to handle potential allergies will differ depending on your family history of allergies, and where you are in the world. Also, info varies from doctor to doctor, so ask your daughter's doctor for advice, but treat it as advice, not medical advice. My son's doctor is great, but very old-fashioned about baby food. He wanted us to start solids at 4 months (current rec is wait til 6 months) so I just ignored him on that. He wanted us to start out on rice cereal and go through the cereals ensuring no allergies. I am paranoid about allergies as there is a family history of them, but in retrospect I think starting with a pureed fruit or simple veggie would have been fine - rice cereal is pretty revolting and flavourless.

Also seconding batch prep and freezing in silicon ice-cube trays.
posted by Joh at 11:15 AM on November 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

Annabel Karmel's books (according to her site, soon to be available on were a great help to Mrs. Morte and me.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 11:36 AM on November 14, 2008

I loved Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron. It was really helpful for learning at what age which foods can be introduced, and had some cool "porridge" ideas for baby. Only caveat is it gets pretty hippy from time to time, but that was cool with me. We completely skipped the rice cereal stage and started right out with some avocado pureed & thinned down with breast milk.

Also thirding the food mill or a nice food processor. I used to steam & puree sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, etc. in bulk, and then freeze in ice cube trays (OXO has some great trays with a cover that slides on top to protect your stuff from the rest of the freezer until you bag it up.) 1 ice cube = ~1oz of food. It gets really fun when you can start mixing your fruits and veggies with some full-fat yogurt. I miss my daughter freaking out with happiness over our special mango & yogurt blend.
posted by mochilove at 11:55 AM on November 14, 2008

Best answer: Don't do mush!

Guidelines for implementing a baby-led approach to the introduction of solid food. Why baby knows best when it comes to food. Etc.

Recipes are really not necessary either way. Or, they are, but you can use or The Joy of Cooking or whatever. Baby-food cookbooks exist to sell baby-food cookbooks and that's it.

Beware of baby-food myths. The idea that you introduce food X and then food Y and so on is not backed by any research. If you have no history of food allergy in your family the allergy fears are really overblown and not worth losing sleep over, and then even if you do it's not clear that delaying particular foods does anything useful. If the silliness about doing one food for X number of days was really necessary people would still be cautiously introducing new foods to twelve-year-olds... Be particularly wary of baby food advertising masquerading as infant feeding advice. Most of the stuff on places like is sponsored by commercial manufacturers, and a lot of advice that has even made it into semi-reputable books is just a rehash of the "information" Gerber offers to get you stuffing in the maximum amount of Gerber junk.

The "rice cereal" idea is a leftover from when babies were bottle-fed cow's milk + sugar + water "formulas" and a vitamin-enriched pap was a lifesaving thing. Now it's just useless starch, overprocessed, constipating and not even particularly useful as a source of iron given how poorly the iron in commercial cereals is absorbed. (See here, here.)

Experts seek to debunk baby food myths
Little evidence supports ‘any particular way of doing things’

Ditch the rice cereal and mashed peas, and make way for enchiladas, curry and even — gasp! — hot peppers. It's time to discard everything you think you know about feeding babies. It turns out most advice parents get about weaning infants onto solid foods — even from pediatricians — is more myth than science.

That's right, rice cereal may not be the best first food. Peanut butter doesn't have to wait until after the first birthday. Offering fruits before vegetables won't breed a sweet tooth. And strong spices? Bring 'em on.

There is no good reason why a baby needs to eat or be introduced to only one food per week or why vegetables should be started before fruits. Anyone worried about the sweetness of fruit has not tasted breast milk. The six-month-old can be given almost anything off his parents’ plates that can be mashed with a fork.
Far fewer feeding problems will occur if a relaxed approach to feeding is taken.

When the baby is starting to take solids at about six months of age, there is little difference what he starts with or the order foods are introduced. It is prudent to avoid highly spiced or highly allergenic foods at first (e.g. egg white, strawberries), but if the baby reaches for the potato on your plate, make sure it is not too hot, and let him have the potato. There is no need to go in any specific order, and there is no need for the baby to eat only one food for a certain period of time... There is no need either that foods be pureed if the baby is six months of age or older. via

From Dr Newman's book:

I once sat beside a mother in the subway. She was obviously just returning from the doctor’s office. She had a sheet in her hand (which I read over her shoulder, couldn’t help myself), which stated something like this:
“Your Baby is Four Months Old
Start rice cereal one or two tablespoons once or twice daily for a week.
At four months and one week, start oat cereal.
At four months and two weeks, start mixed cereal.”
It went on until five months, when, presumably the mother and baby would be seen again, and given careful instruction about what to do for the next month about solids, including the stern warning about not starting fruits before vegetables. The mother would leave with another instruction sheet outlining the teaching she got so that she won’t make any mistakes.
What on earth is this all about? Preventing allergies? Sounds reasonable. One food a week only, so that if the baby has an allergic reaction, then the parents will know. Oh, really? And how will they know it’s an allergic reaction? Because the baby gags on the cereal? Well that could mean he doesn’t like it. Or it could mean he just isn’t used to eating solids and he’s learning. The same with vomiting food. If the baby gets diarrhea after eating, does this mean it’s an allergic reaction? Not at all. Babies develop loose stools for any old reason, including that they are developing a cold, which would cause them to have a stuffy nose. Ah, a stuffy nose, then diarrhea with a stuffy nose is an allergic reaction? No, it might just be a cold. A lot of sugar in the solid food might cause loose bowel movements too. What about a rash? Babies get rashes all the time, including hives, and none of these may have anything to do with allergy. What about a rash around the mouth? What about it? Any six month old child who eats a strawberry will have a red rash around his mouth afterwards. The strawberry (or tomato) has an acid juice and this irritates the baby’s skin. It’s irritation, not allergy. There is such a thing as allergy, and allergies can be serious, but this is not the way to prevent them or detect them. It’s an exercise in futility.
When mothers were being urged to start solids at three or six weeks, it was necessary to be careful, but it was also inappropriate advice. When babies are starting solids around the middle of the first year, there is no need for such vigilance, except, perhaps, and I emphasize “perhaps”, if the family history is a very allergic one.
Philosophically, I have difficulty with this approach to prevent allergies. Here we are taking a normal process (eating) and turning it into something dangerous. There are, of course, concerns about our food and what goes into it, what is good food and what might cause allergies and all that, but starting the process worrying about what might be, seems hopelessly life denying. Eating can be a great joy. It should be for our children. Why turn it into another dangerous activity? We lose so much when we go to such lengths to protect our children. One thing we lose is the joy of food.

The best starter foods here were steamed broccoli florets and stalks of asparagus, both of which are easy to pick up and gnaw on. Thinly (2-3mm) sliced apple isn't too slippery to be picked up. Toast with a yoghourt "dip" is a nice breakfast for the pre-spoon-set (try offering a spoon around 8mo). Hummus and tzatziki are good to smear on veg and toast for self-feeding. And cheese curds are a good shape for little fists.
posted by kmennie at 12:13 PM on November 14, 2008 [4 favorites]

Others have weighed in on philosophy, so I won't add more to that except to second the Ellyn Satter book. My big tip, though, is to grind up a bunch of flax seed (a coffee grinder works great) and use it to roll stuff like avocado, mango, banana, squash, and apple in--basically anything slippery. It's a nice boost of healthy fats at a time when babies brains need them, and will make it a lot easier for Baby Swift to pick up and manage her own food.

Oh, and avocado stains big time. No one ever told me.
posted by cocoagirl at 1:21 PM on November 14, 2008

Thanks kmennie for those interesting articles. I fed my children whatever I was eating, maybe smaller and "mushier" but I wasn't following any set pattern in introducing foods and I didn't like the cereal. Finger food is the way to go. My kids all survived.
posted by saucysault at 10:33 AM on November 15, 2008

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