How to Prepare Fruits and Veggies for Baby Food

A mother cooking
Image Source/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Cheap, nutritious, and simple, homemade baby food is a great way to introduce your baby to a variety of fruits, vegetables, textures, and flavors. Even though it's an easy process, parents can be intimidated by the idea of prepping these yummy first foods for their baby.

Once you learn a few basic techniques, though, you will be more comfortable making your own baby food. You can even make it right alongside other dishes you are preparing for yourself and your family. If you are baking sweet potatoes or steaming broccoli, for example, set some aside before you add salt and butter and use for baby's meal. Or if you are using the steamer basket for broccoli for the family meal, throw in a pear or an apple to purée for your baby.

Remember, too, that she will only need a small amount (say, one-fourth of a small sweet potato, or even less), so you will be able to refrigerate or freeze some for the future.

Choose Fruits and Vegetables for Baby Food

Almost any fruit or veggie can be turned into a purée or mash for baby, although you may want to avoid acidic fruits like citrus and tomatoes for younger babies. Choose organic produce if you can (but it's not essential). For those occasions when you don't buy fresh, choose frozen fruits and vegetables over canned.

Prepare Fruits and Veggies for Baby Food

Your first step is to wash fresh produce thoroughly and remove any seeds, rinds, or cores. You may choose to peel thin-skinned fruit and vegetables (such as apples and potatoes), or keep the skins on. While the skins offer fiber and nutrients, they may upset some babies' tummies.

If your baby is between six and eight months old, cook fruits and vegetables before puréeing. Cooking helps make digesting easier, and it allows your baby to process more of the vitamins and nutrients. The exception is bananas and avocados; just mash with a fork. Both of these foods are prone to preventable browning, but it does not affect their nutritional value or taste.

Cooking Methods for Baby Food

Frying and grilling aren't recommended. Just cook baby's fruits and vegetables with water. Try:

  • Steaming (using a steamer insert or basket on your stovetop)
  • Boiling in a small amount of water
  • Baking (without oil)

Once your fruit or veggie is cooked, blend with a food processor or food mill (for younger babies who are just starting solids). For older babies, mash with a fork for a chunkier texture.

If serving immediately, thin your purée as needed with a splash of breastmilk, formula, or water (use the cooking water for extra nutrients). If you will be freezing the food, do that without thinning first. Only portion out what your baby will eat at one sitting. It's not safe to refrigerate or freeze partly consumed food and serve the leftovers later, due to the risk of illness from bacteria.

Was this page helpful?