Making homemade baby food

Kristy emailed me and said,

I have so enjoyed your blog in so many different areas! My question is in regards to baby food. Do you feed your boys table food straight from your plate mashed up, or do you make "specific" babyfoods for them? If so, how do you store them and do you have any "babyfood recipes" you can pass on?

I'm also curious as to when you decided to start feeding babyfoods/table foods to your boys. The typical 4-6 months? Do you wait for their cues? What has been your experience in this area?

Hi, Kristy! Thanks for asking! I'm happy to share about our experience and what has worked for us. :) As with anything, I definitely recommend education, research, and taking into consideration the individual needs of your child.

First, since we believe breastfeeding is the best nourishment for infants (the pros of breastfeeding is a whole other post just in itself, so I won't go into detail now), we started both of our children with exclusive breastfeeding. I have gotten along perfectly fine with just the basics -- a couple books, a newborn, and some milk. ;) We haven't really used bottles or pacifiers simply because we have never had the need for them.

Since basically every health organization now recommends waiting at least 6 months before introducing solids, we knew we would wait at least that long. Also, since my husband has a number of allergies/intolerances, we decided it would be best to wait as long as possible for certain foods like cow's milk, peanuts, etc. 

We did plan to watch for cues. Both of my babies started putting things into their mouths or reaching for things long before 6 months of age. Some people say that this is a sign of being ready for solid foods.

However, I don't automatically assume that a curious baby reaching for a plate of food means he's ready to eat it, any more than I would assume that a baby reaching for an electrical outlet is ready to be electrocuted. ;) Personally, I think babies are just plain curious, and they love to explore the world around them! :)

Another thing I take into consideration is my baby's disposition and weight gain. If my baby is napping, sleeping, and nursing well (mine always nursed 2-3 times a night when I was exclusively breastfeeding, since the milk digests so quickly!), and is gaining weight quickly (mine were always fast gainers), I see no reason to hurry on solids.

Breastmilk is the perfect baby food, and I wanted to take full advantage of its benefits! Organic, homemade, and free Laughing

My babies were 11 and 10 months old (respectively) when we first introduced solid foods to them. We started with cooked veggies (from our meal) and mashed them with a fork. Both of ours has at least 8 teeth by that point, anyway. And neither one really acted too thrilled with solid foods at first.

For the first month or two after starting solids, my babies would only eat a small amount (a couple spoonfuls) at each meal. I kept on nursing regularly (about 8 times in a 24-hour period) and eventually they decided to eat more solids and less breastmilk.

My oldest son (now almost 3) self-weaned at 16 months of age. My other son is now 14.5 months old, and still nurses 6-8 times plus eats some of our food at every meal.

I make nursing a priority, but also watch for my baby's needs. If my baby is thriving on just breastmilk, I see no reason to rush solids. They all wean eventually. ;)

When the baby is no longer satisfied with just breastmilk (i.e. is hungry and needs something "more" than before), then he gets to choose how much veggies, fruit, yogurt, etc. he eats at each meal. :)

So no, I really don't have any real baby food recipes. I have, in the past, cooked and then pureed foods like winter squash, pumpkin, and asparagus. I froze them in meal-sized portions, and thawed them for my baby to eat. I did this more so because I had extras of those foods to use (from the garden, or from other people) rather than for convenience.

What's been easiest for me is to just mash some of our veggies at each meal. That way it's fresh, I can eat whatever the baby doesn't want, and I don't have to remember to thaw it. It does kind of stink, having to eat broccoli or peas for a whole week while the baby is first being introduced to the new food, but we survived. ;)

I'm sure some of my readers have some great baby food tips! Do any of you want to share a tip or two for Kristy? :)

Comments

I'm not sure that I have a tip, but I do have a story to share.

We waited until 6 months to start solids with our son. We were very careful to try one per week and to wait to watch for allergies.

By about 8 months, we were pulling our hair out. Our son just didn't seem to like any of the jar baby food that we were trying to feed him!

One day, my husband was out at a restaurant with our son. He turned to speak to someone and our son reached over and grabbed a bit of his spicy beef dish! My husband was astonished to see our 8 month old shoveling in more meat!

It never occurred to us that our son might find the baby food too bland!

Ends up, our son has a liking for spicy foods and bold flavors. Go figure! :)

I guess my only tip might be, don't be afraid to experiment a bit with the foods you feed your baby. You might be surprised with what your baby likes!

http://overwhelmedwithjoy.blogspot.com

I just posted a book review on a wonderful new book on how to use whole grains as your babies first food. Take a look if you are interested.

Myself, I read many things and came to the same conclusions that Tammy said. Babies will enjoy a good shoe as well as table food at 6 months (in most cases) so unless there are other signs of absolute need I waited until they showed signs of needing food.

The first three were a year old and the youngest 11 months when they started solids, and their primary source of food was breast milk still. One of the main reasons I did this was because of the high risk of asthma in our family.

We introduced solids pretty early (around 4-5 mo), but we weren't particularly exclusive about breastfeeding either. That is to say, we used pacifiers and sometimes even formula now and again if I didn't have milk expressed and we needed to leave the kids with someone (or Daddy wanted to feed them). BUT I would say overall breastsfeeding was the rule of the day. Anyway, I say we introduced solids but each child (of 3) was different about eating them. I don't remember details, lol, but we started with the typical cereal+breastmilk and progressed to babyfood. It was just so much cheaper to puree a little of whatever we had for dinner instead of buying little jars. I was blessed to inherit a very small food chopper that I could just throw a cup or so of food into and Viola! Babyfood. About the self-weaning -- I'm glad to hear about your early weaners. With my son, my third child, I was so ready to extended breastfeed. I decided to just let him wean when he wanted -- I had weaned both the girls around 1 year. But at around 13 or 14 months, one day he just looked and my breast like "What is that thing FOR?" and never nursed again. I was so sad (and sore)! I felt like I was going to do it "right" this time, and got gyyped!

Hi Tammy,
With our first boy, I followed the AAP guidelines exactly: Waited as far after 4 months as I could before he was eating me out of house and home with formula, one grain at at time, one veggie, one fruit, etc...

With our second boy, he snagged a french fry off my husband's plate at a restaurant at 5 months and never looked back. He did NOT want anything from a spoon. He wanted to feed himself so that's what we did. We gave him little bits of whatever we were eating. We gave him cheese, bread, veggies, little pieces of fruit. He's 19 months now and pedaling a tricycle! He looks and acts like our 3 year old :-)

Now with our third boy, who is Boy2's biological sibling, he's 5.5 months and can have nothing but formula mixed with a lot of cereal. He has terrible reflux and a sensitive gag reflex. If we put anything on a spoon and touch his tongue, he vomits. If we give him pieces of a cheerio, he vomits. For a boy who barfs as much as he does, you'd think he'd be malnourished. Oh my NO! He's 18 pounds, crawling at 5 months (he's crawled out the front door already to get to his brothers) and happy as a little clam! When I take him in for his 6 month check, I'll ask the doctor more about his gagging but right now he's doing ok on formula. I guess he'll eat when he's ready.

Katie, who needs a new screen name since I have more than 2 boys now :-)

Well, not really. But I did change your username for you! Let me know if you have any log-in problems; I've never changed someone's username before. :)

You have quite the boys! Crawling at 5 months?! :D

I have three and all three are so different.

With my first, i followed the "book" to a t. at 4 mo she was getting cereal, i then introduced all the solids in the "reccomended" orders. i made some of my babyfood but i wasnt relgious with it.

by my second, i had thrown the "book" out the window and do things according to our family and his needs. he didnt get baby food regularly till about 8 mo old. and even then he didnt get it three times a day , more like once or twice and it was all homemade.
he is sickly in a way. so he got all organic and all homemade.

the third one came around and his needs are MUCH different then my others.
at 6 mo i started him food cause he was going through a growth spurt and i could NOT keep him fed, i figured he was ready. aweek later tho, he stopped drining milk so much so we cut out solids and went back to milk.
at this point, he wasnt ready. tho, somewhere between 7-8 mo, he was needing more food. one day i just put a few peas left over from dinner on is tray. he ATE THEM UP and was so happy.
i tried this again with other foods, cuccumbers, apples.... ect...
he ate them all in small pieces. this time i didnt see the need to go through the puree process if he was just going to eat them "whole" anyways. so, he never got babyfood. he does get some oatmeal in the morning due to his VERY hefty appitiete.
but it is such a relief to not have to "make" babyfood for him. with two other ones around as well. ill also add this is a baby who eats more then the average kid, yet has slept through the night from day one!!!!!!

anyways, i just wanted to be apart of the thread! :P

-kristy jo (not the kristy who asked the orignal question)

Mine both started around four months on solids from mommy's plate and squished to fit what they could eat (they borh had four teeth by this point my kids got their teeth early just like mommy!)spiced and salted the way we eat them and they have never looked back and will eat everything! My ds ate half of my prime rib at 8 months old and loved shrimp, crab and fish by one year (yes, I have strange kids!) Funny thing is all his favorite foods now are the same ones I craved when I was pregnant with him! Dd will eat anything I put in front of her and almost always asks for seconds (it amazes people when we go out to eat and they order adult type food, fish, crab, shrimp, etc instead of chicken nuggets and fries, etc and they are only 3 and 5!). Mine both would only eat if they could feed themselves too, so the baby foods they sold in stores never worked for us since they were too runny and they would get so frustrated by them falling off the spoon, smashing what we were eating just worked better for them and was actually cheaper for us too! I think by them feeding themselves they learned how much they wanted to eat and didn't overfeed themselves! Of course, you have to go by your baby not all of them are ready at 4 months some are not ready ny 12 months but eventually they all are at some point, just like walking, talking and crawling they will do it in their own sweet time!

I don't have any kids, but my youngest sibling is all of 18 yrs younger than me, so I've observed my Mom a lot. ;-) She didn't buy baby food. Instead, she bought a small, manual, baby food grinder. (Cheap at garage sales or second hand stores!) Then she would grind up a variety of food while preparing a meal, and fill up ice cube trays. When the food was frozen, she would place those cubes in a ziploc bag in the freezer. They were the perfect size for a meal for the baby, offering a variety of food to pick from, fast to thaw out, healthy, and very cheap!

I made/ am making baby food for both of my kids. I cook the vegetables and puree them, then freeze them in ice cube trays for individual servings. My daughter moved up to mashed versions of our table good pretty quickly. My son is just starting to like solids, so we'll see how he does.

Amy
(My WFMW tip is on my cooking blog: http://www.villageblogger.com/cookingadventures)

I commend you on waiting to feed your boys solid foods Tammy. Everything I've researched must be the same things you looked at!
When our two (now adopted) foster children first came to live with us, the 15 mo. old had been fed horrible things from cola soda to chocolate to canned, proccessed meats. He weighed only 17 lbs and was vastly undernourished! I immediately stopped giving him dairy, and started making whole grain toddler food from veggies, grains, tofu, and other nutritional ingredients. He began flourishing, his ear infections stopped, his skin problems cleared up, and he started gaining weight.
He now (at age 2+) eats what we do at every meal, albeit cut smaller. Last night we had large veggie topped salads, and he gobbled up his first lettuce/spinach, chick peas, vegetables and seed salad like he hadn't eaten in months!
I am sometimes fearful of what our kids had eaten for so long before coming to live with us. I wish I could start at the beginning to ensure their healthy futures, but will settle for "making it right" now.
While in foster care with us, we allowed both boys to eat meat if we were at someone else's house or at a restaurant, but now that we've adopted them they no longer eat animals. The 2 year old has refused to eat meat for about 7 months, so it doesn't affect him in the least. But his older brother (age 7) is worried about not getting chicken ever again! I have been using faux chicken from a Chinese company in NYC for years now, and each time he thought he was eating chicken, he actually wasn't!
Again, so glad to hear you waited to feed your kids solid foods. It seems to me that people are starting earlier and earlier nowdays, some with detrimental effects.

I made my son's baby food, and plan on doing the same with our other children. I found the book Super Baby Food, by Ruth Yaron, to be very helpful for a first time mom who was unsure of where to start. I did not follow everything she said, but it was a great place to start.
I had a specific baby food grinder, which I found very difficult to use and got rid of pretty quickly. The best tools were a handheld blender for the puree stage and a food chopper for the chopped stage.

My daughter had her first taste of solid food at about 7 months. She started off one at a time with sweet potatoes and avocado (good for brain development:). I bought organic fruits and veggies, cooked, puréed and froze them in ice cube trays. Things that weren't in season, I'd buy in a jar. If you can't do all organic, then do some of what you can economically. Eggs, dairy, nuts, and wheat came well after year old b/c of intolerances I personally have. I didn't do commercial rice cereal with her, but close to a year old I made my own healthy unprocessed cereal from whole grain brown rice. But overall, making your own baby food is actually pretty fun!

Here are some good sources of recipes I've found to be good:
Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron
Organic Baby & Toddler Cookbook by Lizzie Vann
The Petit Appetit Cookbook by Lisa Barnes
Mommy Made and Daddy Too by Martha Kimmel
www.wholesomebabyfood.com

Mommy Made and Daddy Too by Martha Kimmel
www.wholesomebabyfood.com

These two are my resources! My baby started solids at 6 months and I have only made her baby food. She has only had jarred food once. There is such satisfaction I find in making her baby food! It really is easier than I ever thought! I cook, puree and then freeze them in ice cube trays. When they are frozen, I pop them out and put them in freezer bags. If we are going out, I just put a frozen cube in a container and let it defrost on the way. If we go to a restaurant for dinner, I ask the waiter to bring me a bowl filled with a little bit of HOT water (shallow). I pop my container in there and let it defrost. It doesn't get warm, but it defrosts perfectly. I let my baby eat cold food often so she doesn't get used to always NEEDING warmed food.

wholesome baby foods has great recipes to check out online as well as a baby menu!

Hi Tammy,

We started TJ on solids at around 5 months, simply because of the excitement of seeing him try something new, but he didn't really go 'full fledge' with the solids until 6.5 mo or so. He always been a good nurser, so I stuck mostly with what I knew was working, and hey no cooking or cleaning required!!

I have made/make most of TJ's food too. There's just too much processed junk out there! I too followed the "Super Baby Food" book, not exactly though. It was a great place to start for a new mom who is not all that educated about nutrition, it covers so much, and is now my favorite kitchen reference...for buying, cooking, storing fruits/veggies, legumes, grains, vitamin & nutrition facts etc. It really helped me expand my diet as well!

My only recommendation at this point is for people to hold off on any of the major allergins...we just found out this week that TJ is allergic to egg, and PEANUTS!! Thankfully, the Lord allowed us to find this out with only minor reactions, but it seems that his case may be severe.

Well, that's my 2cents....buy the way, I'm loving your site, I check it about every day now. Also, please don't feel obligated to reply to every posting, maybe just if I have a question (sounds like you get a bit 'blogged' down).

Take Care & God Bless,

Julie

Hi, Julie!

Wow, eggs and peanuts -- you will be getting creative in the kitchen, I guess! :) I'm glad TJ's doing okay. How were the allergies discovered, if you don't mind sharing?

There is another lady who reads here and has a son who is allergic to eggs. She does various substitutes in recipes -- so if you need ideas for using things other than store-bought "egg replacer", just ask. :)

Peanuts, from what I have read, are the most common thing to be allergic to. I made both of mine wait until after 1 to have peanuts. I'm allergic to cashews and pistachios, but Yehoshua eats those fine. Eliyahu has only had almonds at this point. :)

Julie, Hi there. I think I am the other mom with a child with food allergies. My youngest son, now 5 yrs., is allergic to peanuts/tree nuts to the point of having to carry an Epipen and wear a medical bracelt and he also has egg, corn, soy, wheat, dairy, cocoa allergies. It is a bit daunting to come up with foods he likes and most store bought foods are out. I nursed him until he was 18 mos. and he is my only one with allergies (food anyway). I am glad you caught it early with minor problems. I highly recommend joining FAAN. I just bought two of their cookbooks and most ingredients are common things we keep on hand. Baking w/out eggs is not too difficult and I have had great success with Tammy's recipes. The wheat allergy is much more challenging so I hope this doesn't become a problem for you. What I use for an egg substitute is for each egg I use 1T.vinegar,1T.water, 1/2tsp.cream of tartar & 1/2tsp.baking soda. Just mix this up and add whenever it calls for egg. I have used it in Tammy's banana choc.chip muffins and the chocolate bottom banana cake. We always have leftover bananas so...I don't think it would work in recipes requiring more than 3 eggs and I don't know about the recipes other than baking ones. I hope this helps some. Good luck!! Staci

thank you all so much for all this wonderful information!! i have been leaning more on continuing to breastfeed for as long as possible andnot worrying so much about starting solids at "4-6 months" he watches us, but really that is no reason for me to believe he is anything but "curious" and not really "ready". i really like the idea of just going straight to table foods off of our plates.

again tammy, thank you so much for your wealth of knowledge and humbleness in sharing it. :)

~kristy

Thank you, everyone, for the great ideas, tips, and book/website recommendations! :D

With our last four, I held off solids as long as possible.Not wanting to use formula, which is 45% sugar and full of additives,and not able to nurse,we bought raw goats milk and gave liquid Ploy-Visol to baby.Dont dilute with water.About 10-11 mo. we started with mashed banana,then sqush,carrots.Babies dont digest meat until over a year old.Dont give eggs until two years of age,and hold off peanut butter even longer.A friend lost her 8mo. baby to a reaction to egg.I recommend abook called Mommy Made.No wheat until at least a year.These i learned the hard way!!A mommy of 41 years, and the youngest is four!

I definitely agree that "breast is best" but don't think breastmilk can be considered organic unless the mom is eating an organic diet.

We waited later on starting solids with our third child rather than following the 4-6 months guideline. We do mash food and I occasionally buy jars of organic food to take when we will be out, but mostly try to feed her what we are eating (that includes mostly organic foods).

Cathy

I'll be happy to share how we found out...everyone's first response is "you know, you'r not supposed to give a child PB until 2 years old"...yes, I know, but...

...I was eating a whole wheat engish muffin with crunchy PB and I gave him a piece of the edge without any PB on it, or so I thought, well there was a smidgen of PB, and without even ingesting it he instantly had hives all over his face. Thankfully he didn't go into shock or anything, but I about did ;)

The egg allergy was discovered b/c his pediatrician okayed egg whites (even having known about the peanut incident??)and so we gave him scrambled's the next morning, he gagged and spit them out immediately, I just figured it was b/c it was something new, but he did it again and then instantly hives wherever egg had touched.

He's since been tested for peanut, egg, wheat, soy, and milk. It's only the peanut and egg for now. I was so thankfull he's not allergic to wheat, I couldn't imagine what he'd eat! We too carry an epi-pen now. Thanks for the tips on egg-replacements, I'll have to try that one. I became a FAAN member, I got 6mo free, and purchese a couple of their ingredients lists and emergency cards, etc.

On the bright side, his diet restrictions now prevent overly generous grandparents from cohersing sugary baked goods into his diet. While I'm not rigidly strict about sugar intake, I'm much more conciencious (sp?) than what I think most mom's are these days...especially in a child under 2 years.

Thanks again for eveyone's concern and insight...

Julie

Cathy, okay... I guess the person (or animal) making the milk has to be on an organic diet for the milk to be considered organic. :) Good point! :)

Julie, wow!! It sounds like TJ is really really allergic to peanuts and eggs!! Thanks for sharing about how you discovered the allergies! :)

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