- Last Updated on Thursday, 24 April 2014 13:49
Making homemade baby food is both affordable and easy. Not only can use save money when compared to buying commercially prepared baby food, you can ensure only the finest and freshest ingredients are used and eliminate preservatives, artificial flavors and coloring and other unwanted additives. Most of the equipment needed to prepare your baby's food can be found in your kitchen.
All you need is a food processor/blender, steamer, strainer, knife and fork. If desired, you can splurge on other items such as baby food grinders, processors, mills, and blenders to make this task even easier available.
When making homemade baby food it is important to keep these helpful tips in mind:
- Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly and use clean equipment when preparing your baby’s food.
- Use separate cutting boards for meats and produce. Wood, non-porous plastic and glass cutting boards are the safest and easiest to clean.
- Beets, turnips, carrots, collard greens, and spinach contain high levels of nitrates which can cause anemia in babies younger than 4 months of age. Removing the liquid that the food was cooked in and and using clean water, formula or breastmilk can significantly reduce the amount of nitrates in the food.
When cooking meat, be sure to:
- Wash hands thoroughly after handling raw meat.
- Use a cutting board that is designated for meats only.
- Do not use same equipment for raw meat and produce (i.e. utensils, pots, etc.)
- Defrost meat in refrigerator or microwave only.
- Be sure to remove all fats, skin and bones prior to cooking.
Boil, broil, bake or stew meats until cooked thoroughly. Be sure oven is set higher than 325º F to ensure killing of bacteria. Use a food thermometer to ensure safe internal temperature of meat, poultry and fish:
Safe Temperature Guideline
- The internal temperature of red meat should be 160º F.
- The internal temperature of poultry should be 165º F
- The internal temperature of fish should be 145º F.
- Download this safe temperature guideline to keep handy in your kitchen.
- Clean surface and equipment thoroughly after preparing meat.
When cooking produce:
- Use fresh or frozen produce. Canned produce can contain preservatives, bisphenol-A (BPA) and/or can be packaged incorrectly. If using canned foods, ensure the integrity of the can and be sure to clean the lid with warm, soapy water before opening. Do not use any food that came from an unlabeled, dented, bulging or leaking can.
- Wash produce and remove skins, seeds and pits prior to cooking.
- Steam, boil, bake or microwave produce until soft and tender.
Be sure that all dairy products are pasteurized to prevent serious bacterial illness. Pasteurization involves heating of the food product to reduce the number of pathogens (disease-causing organisms). Organic dairy products ensure that no hormones, antibiotics or growth hormones have been added.
When cooking eggs:
- Buy grade AA or A eggs.
- Organic eggs are obtained from hens who have been fed organic feed which does not contain genetically modified ingredients, synthetic fertilizer or animal by-products. Livestock has outdoor access and are not give antibiotics.
- Eggs should be boiled until they are thoroughly cooked. Then the yolk and white can be separated. Egg whites can be allergenic and previous recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics stated that infants under the age of 1 should not be given egg whites. However, recent recommendations do not support withholding the introduction of allergenic foods such as eggs.
- Be sure to use separate utensils and dish for preparing raw eggs to prevent salmonella contamination.
- Do not add salt, sugar, pepper, butter, oil, syrup or honey to your baby’s food.
Once food is cooked:
- Puree, mash or dice (depending on your baby’s skill level)
- Serve once slightly cooled (always ensure proper temperature safety before feeding to your baby)
- Be sure to use within 2 hours when left at room temperature since bacteria can multiply rapidly.
Excess, unused food can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.
- Be sure to thoroughly reheat food to at least 165º F before serving.
- Never defrost frozen baby food on the counter or in a bowl of water.
- Use freshly prepared foods within 2 days when placed in refrigerator.
- Freeze freshly prepared food in covered ice cube trays or other appropriate storage containers. Allow food to freeze and then place in freezer bag. Be sure to label the bag with the name of the food, the date and the time prepared. Use food within 1 month.
- Do not refreeze thawed foods.
- Information on preparing homemade baby food can be obtained from the U.S. Department of Agriculture manual “Home-prepared baby food” at and also at www.wholesomebabyfood.com
CDC, FDA and USDA: BeFoodSafe.org
Greer, F. et. al (2005). Infant Methemoglobinemia: The Role of Dietary Nitrate in Food and Water
Greer, F, et. al (2008). Effects of Early Nutritional Interventions on the Development of Atopic Disease in Infants and Children: The Role of Maternal Dietary Restriction, Breastfeeding, Timing of Introduction of Complementary Foods, and Hydrolyzed Formulas. PEDIATRICS Vol. 121 No. 1 January 2008, pp. 183-191
USDA (2002). Feeding Infants: A Guide for Use in the Child Nutrition Programs.
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Author : Diba Tillery RN, BSN, IBCLC, CPST