How to make your own baby food

The best food is in your hands!

It’s time: Your little one is about six months old. They’re eying your plate of spaghetti like Romeo did Juliet. All signs point to go — time to bust out the bib and spoon and give them a taste of some real food.

 Look no further than your own produce drawer if you want to provide your little one with the most diverse, fresh, and nutritious food possible, while encouraging an adventurous palate, one that may make the difference between them eating only mac n’ cheese until high school or being the kid who will scarf down garlicky kale with gusto.

 Making your own baby food at home gives you more control over ingredients, and it’s cheaper, says Amy Spoto, MD, of  “I always encourage parents to make their own baby food if they have the time. When you make it yourself you know exactly what is in it.” Knowing where the food comes from lessens the chance of ingesting any unwanted sugars, pesticides, or preservatives. “It’s just better to feed your baby fresh produce, especially organic, if you can afford it.” Making your own purees out of the same produce you’re buying for yourself is more cost effective than buying jars, which, at around a dollar a piece per four-ounce serving, adds up quickly. One of the biggest downfalls of jarred baby food is its processing. In order to kill all bacteria for longer shelf life, the fruits and veggies are heated to high temperatures. Unfortunately, this can deplete the nutritional value, as well as affecting taste and freshness qualities. In addition, the purees are often diluted, which is why the nutritional value of one brand may differ from another. This intense processing and diluting leaves many of the fruits and veggies unrecognizable to more discerning palates; it has been suggested that the bland taste and super smooth consistency of commercial baby food can set babies up to be more resistant to the same fruits and vegetables in their whole foods state.

By steaming, roasting, or boiling your own fresh fruits and veggies and then pureeing with a food processor, blender, or food mill, you’re not only offering your child a more nutrient dense food, you’re making accessible a full range of produce that commercial producers can’t. There is a bounty of Hudson Valley produce you won’t find in a Gerber jar —  kale, beets, sweet corn, chard, heirloom tomatoes, or the countless varieties of apples. For Hyde Park stay-at-home mom Cara Kubert, making homemade baby food was not only easy, but a wild success. Since she and her husband eat fresh, local, and organic, she knew even during her pregnancy that she’d want her baby to eat the same. “I had tried some jarred baby food before and it just didn’t taste right.” So when son Wyatt started showing signs of readiness at four and a half months, Kubert began offering him simple things like bananas, avocado, or sweet potato, mashed with the back of a fork and mixed with breastmilk. An avid eater from the start, now twelve-month-old Wyatt took to the blends quickly, so Kubert began introducing new foods in rapid succession. “He really liked carrots and bananas so I mixed those with lots of seasonal things.” Eventually she began adding simple spices, like cinnamon. She would steam the fruits and veggies then use a food mill, storing extra servings in a freezer tray. Much of what she made never got used: By nine months Wyatt was refusing purees, instead clamoring for what was on mom and dad’s plates. “He loved everything that was more seasoned and spicy.” Kubert reports that he seems to have a more adventurous palette than other babies his age. “And I like that he got a taste for healthy food.” Shannon Gallagher lines in Rhinebeck and enjoys feeding her little girl home-made foods.

Find the tools you need for making homemade baby food.