How to Make Baby Food

Woman making baby food

Verywell / Photo Illustration by Madelyn Goodnight / Getty Images

Table of Contents
View All
Table of Contents

While store-bought baby food can be a great option for babies who are starting solids, preparing homemade baby food works really well for some families. For others, the idea of making your own baby food may seem daunting, but it doesn't have to.

The work involved in making your own baby purees can actually be quite minimal. All you need is the right tools and techniques at the ready. Making your own food at home can save money and offers the added benefit of giving you complete control over what is going into your baby's body.

"Preparing your own healthy, nutritious baby food for your little one is a wonderful idea and cost-effective too," says Catherine Pourdavoud, MD, CLE, a board-certified pediatrician and certified lactation educator in Calabasas, California.


Click Play to Learn How to Make Baby Food

Benefits of Making Baby Food at Home

One of the biggest benefits of making homemade baby food is that it's really quite simple to do. Often, you can use the food you are already preparing for the rest of the family and just process it a bit more to make it a safe consistency for your baby, explains Dr. Pourdavoud.

Even better, foods prepared at home will last in your freezer for one to three months, says Dr. Pourdavoud, who suggests using an ice cube tray for storage and portion size: "Each cube in an ice cube tray is conveniently about 1 ounce of food."

Additionally, when you feed your baby the same food you are eating, you expose your child to a greater variety of foods and acclimate them to your family's meals. "Babies that are fed homemade baby food get to experiment with more textures and flavors than the standard puree in baby food jars," says Dr. Pourdavoud.

You'll also know exactly what they are eating and can ensure they get nutritious foods free from the additives and preservatives sometimes included in store-bought baby food. "You get to choose what you want to try first for your baby (as long as it is not honey, cow’s milk, or a choking hazard)," says Dr. Pourdavoud.

What You Need to Make Homemade Baby Food

You may want to invest in a small food processor, blender, or food mill, which will let you quickly turn cooked foods, such as steamed carrots or broccoli, into a delicious puree for your baby.

However, you don't always need any special equipment to make baby food at home. You can also use a fork or potato masher to turn soft foods like bananas, avocado, and baked sweet potatoes into a smooth puree for your baby. You can also chop up and mash other foods such as fully cooked chicken, eggs, or fish into small, soft pieces for older babies.

Step-by-Step for How to Make Baby Food

There are many ways to make baby food at home. Generally, as long as the food is in puree form or small, mushy pieces, it will be safe for your baby.

Catherine Pourdavoud, MD, CLE

To prevent choking, starting with soft or pureed foods first is often a good idea. Your baby will then gradually advance to mashed foods followed by finger foods when they are developmentally ready.

— Catherine Pourdavoud, MD, CLE

Here are some other key information and strategies to keep in mind.

Preparing Fruits and Vegetables

Thoroughly wash fresh vegetables or fruits to remove dirt and some types of pesticides. Steam or boil the fruit or vegetable. You will want the food to be mushy if your baby has just started on solids. If your baby has been eating solid foods for a couple of months, you can just cook the food until it is easily pierced with a fork to make a thicker consistency.

Some fruits, such as kiwi fruit, avocados, and bananas, don't need to be steamed or cooked before being processed. If soft enough, they can be mashed for younger babies or given in small pieces for older babies.

Making Purees

Puree your chosen fruit, vegetable, or meat in a blender or food processor, or process with a food mill until the food reaches the right consistency for your child's stage of eating. Strain the food to remove any stray peels. Alternately, you can remove the peels before cooking food to avoid this step.

Some easy-to-puree fruits and vegetables include apples, plums, pears, apricots, peaches, bananas, carrots, peas, green beans, butternut squash, and sweet potatoes. The more variety you can give your baby before they hit the 1-year mark, the more likely they are to be adventurous eaters in their toddler years.

Spoon the pureed food into ice cube trays, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the freezer. When the cubes are frozen, you can put them in zip lock bags or another food storage container. Be sure to label with the type of food and the date it was prepared.

When it's time to eat, remove as many cubes as you need. Allow them to thaw in the refrigerator in a bowl placed in warm water, or you can thaw in the microwave. Note that baby food can be served cool, at room temperature, or slightly warmed.

If serving warm, be sure to stir well and test the temperature before serving to avoid burning your baby's mouth. "Heated food may not have a consistent temperature throughout and may have hot spots (especially if microwaved). Be sure to stir it thoroughly and let it sit for at least 30 seconds," advises says Dr. Pourdavoud.

Using Frozen and Canned Foods

Many frozen fruits and veggies are picked and flash-frozen at the peak of freshness, so don't shy away from using frozen options if fresh isn't available. Canned fruits and vegetables also can be an option. Just be sure to opt for varieties that do not include added salt or sugar.

Adding Flavor

In addition to skipping sugar and salt when making purees, initially, don't add any additional flavorings, says Dr. Pourdavoud. Once your baby is well-accustomed to unflavored solid foods, you can add small amounts of spices like cumin, garlic, cinnamon, and so on to increase their exposure to different flavors.

What to Avoid

"Avoid possible choking hazards such as raw carrots, hotdogs, nuts and seeds, whole grapes, popcorn, or globs of thick nut butter," advises Dr. Pourdavoud. Additionally, don't offer foods with honey or cow's milk until your baby is over age 1.

What to Consider When Making Baby Food

Firstly, make sure your baby is ready to start solid foods, says Dr. Pourdavoud. Signs of readiness include holding their head up independently, being able to sit upright, intently watching people eat, reaching for food, opening their mouth when food is near, and putting their hands and toys in their mouth. Babies typically start first foods between 4 and 6 months old.

"Some good ideas for first foods are sweet potato, butternut squash, green beans, avocado, prunes, oatmeal or barley cereal (better options than rice cereal), or meats," says Dr. Pourdavoud.

When your baby is just beginning to eat solids, both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend introducing only one food at a time every three to five days. This guideline is intended to allow parents and caregivers to watch for potential allergic reactions.

However, some professionals are moving away from this advice especially for non-allergic foods in the interest of exposing children to a number of different foods with a variety of nutritional benefits. Talk to your pediatrician to see which approach is best for your child.

Remember that up until your baby reaches their first birthday, breast milk and/or formula should be their main source of nutrition. First foods are intended to be a supplement and won't become your baby's primary diet until toddlerhood. Instead, the breast or bottle should be given first. Then, offer your child some spoonfuls of baby food until they're full.

A Word From Verywell

With a little planning and knowing a few simple techniques, making baby food at home can be easier than you might think. Plus, it's cost-effective and you'll know exactly what is in your baby's food. Even better, your baby can eat many of the same foods you eat with the rest of your family.

2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. Starting solid foods.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When, what, and how to introduce solid foods.

Additional Reading

By Stephanie Brown
Stephanie Brown is a parenting writer with experience in the Head Start program and in NAEYC accredited child care centers.