You don’t have to be a master in the kitchen to make your own baby food.
While convenient, commercial baby foods may lose vitamins and nutrients during processing, as well as the “yumminess” that can make your baby excited to try new foods and combinations.
These 21 simple recipes are fast, inexpensive, and — best of all — could be more nutritious than foods that have been sitting on a grocery store shelf.
In their 2012 publication, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting until 6 months to start adding in solid foods, but some people start as soon as 4 months as long as certain developmental stages have been reached.
According to a 2013 study, babies who started eating some types of solid foods by 6 months old had a reduced risk of allergies and asthma.
It’s most important that the baby can sit upright and hold their head up. It’s also important that they show signs of interest in solid food. Once you’ve gotten the okay from your child’s pediatrician, you’re ready to bring on baby’s first foods!
A few things to keep in mind when thinking about baby food:
- New eaters only need about 1 to 2 tablespoons of a food, so keep portions small.
- Be on the lookout for allergies, especially when feeding your child foods that contain common allergens. Common allergens include eggs, peanut, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish.
- The newest evidence shows there is no benefit in delaying introducing these foods beyond 6 months or to introducing foods in any particular order.
- Most of all, don’t forget to have fun!
Some people prefer to go organic, wild, pastured, and grass-fed whenever possible. Some foods may be higher in pesticide residue, including:
- sweet bell peppers
- cherry tomatoes
- snap peas (imported)
When your baby is 4 to 6 months old, you’ll want to use simple, single-ingredient purées.
This can help you to spot and identify a food allergy or sensitivity. Once you have proven your child’s tolerance to individual foods, you can try combinations to enhance flavor and likeability.
1. Pea purée
Peas are a small yet mighty source of nutrition, packing vitamins A and C, iron, protein, and calcium.
If the skin of the peas makes the texture less appealing for your child, make sure to strain them to make it as smooth as possible.
2. Banana purée
Often called a “perfect” food, bananas are rich in potassium and fiber.
Bananas are also known as one of nature’s own antacids and are very gentle on the stomach. Although bananas are one of the best first foods for babies, be careful not to overdo it. Too much banana can cause constipation.
3. Baby brown rice cereal
Rice cereal is one of the most common foods to introduce because it’s less allergenic and easily digested.
Mixing it to a fairly thin texture can help babies make the transition from an all-liquid diet to a more solid one. This same process can be applied to steel-cut oats.
4. Avocado purée
This buttery treat is a wonderful “good fats” food for baby’s brain and physical development. Plus, the creamy texture of perfectly ripe avocado is one that babies seem to love.
To help prevent browning, put the avocado pit in the puree when refrigerating.
5. Baked sweet potato purée
In-the-know adults eat sweet potatoes for their health benefits. Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber, so it makes sense that your baby can benefit from this delicious tuber, too.
A simple purée with a touch of water or your baby’s milk makes for a yummy and nutritious first food.
6. First carrots purée
Carrots are a wonderful introduction to solids because of their naturally sweet taste and pleasant texture.
This simple preparation of carrots provides a rich supply of the antioxidant beta carotene and vitamin A.
For a 7- to 9-month-old baby, you can make thicker purées with multiple ingredients.
Remember to introduce one new ingredient at a time and combine foods that you know they aren’t allergic to. You can also add meat and other proteins at this stage, or even earlier if your pediatrician gives the OK.
7. Pumpkin thyme purée
This easy and elegant seasonal recipe is full of beta carotene, potassium, and iron. Make a big batch and freeze it in ice cube trays for single-portion servings for later!
8. First spinach with white yams
This simple combination of spinach and yams adds a healthy dose of calcium, iron, vitamin A, and folate to your baby’s diet. The yams add a touch of sweetness to create a pleasant introduction to greens.
9. Beets and blueberry mash
Not only is this blend a beautiful shade of magenta, it’s also a nutritious combination of antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber.
You can also mix this purée with a little cereal for a delicious breakfast for baby.
10. Avocado and banana baby food
This is a pairing of two wonderful foods: avocados (good fats and fiber) and bananas (potassium and vitamin C).
The banana also adds a bit of sweetness and lightens up the usually dense avocado purée. Nix the sugar, and stick with the natural sweetness of the ingredients themselves for young babies.
11. Veggies and sole purée
Potatoes, carrots, peas, and fish make for a delicious combination that’s ready to eat in under 8 minutes.
Vegit is a seasoning ingredient in this recipe that can also be subbed for Mrs. Dash, another low-sodium seasoning. This is a great, simple introduction to fish for your baby.
12. Butternut squash and pear purée
Butternut squash is a great ingredient because it rarely causes allergies. Pear adds an additional touch of sweetness to this recipe.
13. Papaya Purée
Papayas have a higher acidity than a lot of other fruits, so it’s best to wait until your baby is 7 or 8 months old to introduce this fruit.
The enzymes in papaya (and in pineapple) aid digestion, so this may be a perfect food to help relieve your baby’s constipation or tummy troubles.
At 9 to 12 months old, your baby can enjoy chunkier purées and mashes. You can also add dairy, such as cheese or yogurt, to their foods.
At this stage, many babies can even advance to adult food and complex combinations, finely minced or softened.
14. White fish, carrot, and leek purée
This purée combination is a savory, brain-boosting powerhouse.
White fish contains omega-3 fatty acids and may help boost development of baby’s central nervous system. Leeks are thought by some to provide cardiovascular support and carrots are loaded with antioxidants.
15. Quinoa ratatouille
Baby’s first French classic couldn’t be tastier! Traditional ratatouille ingredients meet the super grain — quinoa — in a delightful “gourmet” purée.
16. Baby beef stew
This baby-friendly version of a classic comfort food is full of iron, thanks to the beef. The recipe requires a little more prep time than other baby food recipes, but your house will smell amazing.
17. Raw baby purée of blueberries, mango, avocado, and mild chilies
Another nutrient-dense combination, this recipe combines creamy avocado, tangy mango, blueberries, and the interesting addition of mild green chilies!
18. Creamy Provencal chicken
This dish incorporates Herbes de Provence, a mild blend of spices that can help introduce your child to more exciting flavors, without the addition of salt.
19. Quinoa banana mash
Quinoa is a protein-packed grain that makes a great addition to your growing baby’s diet. This adds an exciting new texture to the banana mash, an ingredient that your baby probably already loves.
Also, try serving cooked quinoa by itself to your baby. The cooked seeds stick to baby’s fingers, which makes it an easy food to eat.
View the recipe.
20. Cherry and mint Greek yogurt baby food purée
This homemade cherry purée is a delicious topping for the yogurt base. Make sure to use full-fat yogurt!
21. Apricot and banana food with cinnamon
Spice things up in baby’s diet with a dash of cinnamon.
For a great breakfast, try adding this purée to a bit of cereal or cooked oatmeal, which can also make a great breakfast.