Homemade Baby Food and Starting on Solids
Babies under 6 months of age can usually get all the nutrients they need from breastmilk or specialised formula, but after 6 months most babies are ready to start trying solid foods for the first time.
Weaning your little one is a gradual process and solid foods will not instantly replace breastmilk or formula, but will become an increasingly important part of your baby’s diet. By providing great quality solid foods with excellent tastes and textures, and balanced nutrition, we can ensure the very best start for our children.
There are some brilliant pre-packaged baby food products on the market, many of which are developed by award-winning brands with options for various ages and dietary requirements. It’s also great to make our own super homemade recipes whenever we can, and there is a certain reassurance and satisfaction associated with knowing exactly which ingredients are in every spoonful.
Fresh and simple is always best to start with and there is no need for extra flavourings, baby will like the taste of freshly cooked and pureed fruits and vegetables just the way nature intended. There are many tried and tested recipes on sites such as BabyCentre, to get you started.
You can add baby’s usual formula or breastmilk to your pureed dishes, this will make for a thinner consistency and will also help them adjust to the taste. Baby rice and cereal can be added to thicken or make flavours blander until baby is used to them.
Keeping things simple to start with helps to avoid any foods that may trigger allergies or pose a choking hazard. When applicable any cores, seeds, kernels, bones or fat must be completely removed before cooking and some parents prefer to peel all fruit and veg too.
Apart from very soft fruits, such as bananas, most ingredients will need cooking before the pureeing stage.
Best Cooking Methods
Using a small amount of water to steam fruit and vegetables will help to retain the all-important nutrients. Overcooking can make food soggy and tasteless, it will also diminish the nutritional value. Save some of the cooking water to add at the pureeing stage if more liquid is needed.
Vegetables, especially root vegetables, can be softened by dry baking with no fat or oil. Non-stick bakeware and foil can be used to ensure they do not dry out, skins can be removed after cooking.
If baby is moving onto meat dishes you can bake this too, but you may wish to drain off any juices and use water in the puree, as the juices can be a little rich and strong tasting for young babies.
Microwaving is a quick and convenient way to cook various foods for pureeing. The key is to ensure that the food is cooked evenly and not with overcooked or undercooked parts which will produce an uneven texture. Chopping food into smaller pieces first can aid with even cooking in a microwave.
For more tips on preparing and storing homemade baby food see, Homemade baby food: in pictures, by Raising Children Network.
At the Cherry Bridge Station Early Learning & Childcare centres in NSW, we cater for babies and children from 6 weeks to 5 years and we are dedicated to providing appropriate, individualised nutritional care. We are proud to support children and their families from breast or bottle to the fully balanced main meals cooked daily in our centres.