Homemade Baby Food
Berkeley Parents Network >
Homemade Baby Food
Does anyone know if you can freeze pre-made rice cereal or oat
cereal? We've been pureeing veggies and freezing it in ice
trays for our baby, but haven't been able to find anything on
I have a recipe for making homemade brown rice cereal by
rinsing, straining, toasting, & then grinding the grains. The
recipe says that the grains can be stored after toasting, but
once they're ground, they must be used within 24-48 hours.
That's when I wondered what would happen if I took that ground-
up cereal, added breast milk, and then froze the portions in the
ice tray like we've been doing with the veggies, but I haven't
been able to find any info on it. Does anyone know? Is it a
silly question to ask? It sure would make prepping meals a lot
faster for us.
Needing Quick and Easy Steps for Homemade Baby Food
Check out Ruth Yaron's (I think) Super Baby Foods Book. There
is a section of grinding your own grain cereal, and I think it
says that you can keep it (raw) and in a zip-lock bag or
airtight jar up to a week. For extra safty I guess you could
freeze it. I would not suggest pre-mixing it with b-milk and
freezins as it may change the consistancy of the meal. I would
look it up for you but a friend has my book right now.
Good luck and ins't it wonderful to make your own ''baby-food.''
Keep up the extra hour or so a week, your baby will grow up
LOVING all types of foods!
Yes yes yes! I cook up real grains for my baby -- rice, oatmeal,
millet once a week or so, and then blend it up in a mini-food processor
so it is
a little mushier, then freeze it in baby food jars (leave about 1/2
expansion) or small little Gladware cups.
I either thaw them for a day in the fridge, or microwave them, so they
into a bowl. Then I warm them up in the microwave some more, THEN add
formula and stir it all up. when they have been frozen, the grains are
like a big solid mass (imagine cat food coming out of a can), but I use
formula to make it a nicer texture, and it helps cool it down to the
I w! ouldn't add the formula before freezing.
love making baby food!
I would like to make rice cereal from brown rice rather than
buying the powdered mixes. However, I'm concerned that my
breast-fed baby (now 6 months) needs some sort of iron
supplements. The Super Baby Food book says that if you are not
using an iron-fortified cereal or formula, that at about 6
months your baby's iron stores have been depleted and she needs
iron supplements. I have read this elsewhere too.
Intuitively, this does not make sense to me -- that the only
way for her to have healthy amounts of iron is through some
supplementation. Aren't there any regular foods (that I can
make myself) that will help provide her with more iron? What
are the development risks of not enough iron? I've searched
everywhere for some reference literature on this topic and
haven't found anything, except a few minority/fringe opinions
saying breastmilk provides enough iron. Since so many other
sources say the contrary, I'm nervous on relying on info from
random websites. Am I alone in struggling with this issue?
I was concerned about this issue, too, when my (breast-fed)
daughter was that age. She showed very little interest
in ''solid'' food until she was over 14 months and even then she
wouldn't touch iron-fortified cereal. She has always been a
finicky eater and I have not tried to fee! d her special iron-
containing foods or supplemental vitamins/minerals. However, she
(now almost 4 years old) has always been incredibly healthy and
never showed any signs of anemia. With my second child, I am not
worried about it at all. I figure that if he shows signs of
being less than healthy, I will ask my pediatrician to run a
iron-level test on him and take if from there.
My son was about 98% breastfed for the first 10 months of
his life, even though we had been trying to introduce solids
since month five. He never had an iron problem. His
pediatrician was not unduly concerned. He eventually
began eating solids, although we never could get him to
take iron-supplemented cereal. I wouldn't stress over it too
much at this point, but you could ask your doctor about your
baby's iron levels.
I recommend just using the box rice cereal instead of making
your own as it will easier for your baby to digest, especially
the iron. Spend the time it would take to make it instead with
your baby or partner. Or for yourself. At Elephant Pharmacy,
Berkeley Bowl, etc. they sell the Earth's Best brand which is
organic and no GMOs. When introducing your baby to solids you
should only introduce something new ever three days to give time
to see if they might have an allergy. So what I did after my son
got used to the rice cereal is puree fruit to add to the rice
cereal. Every couple of days I'd introduce a new fruit or
One thing to keep in mind when making food for your baby is that
whole grains/fiber can be counter productive as it can deplete a
baby's iron by passing it out of their system.
I was pretty adamant at first about making all of my son's food.
But then you realize that you only have so much time in the day
and that once in a while it is such a relief to be able to reach
for that jar of baby food after getting only 4 hours of sleep
because of teething, or because you want to just spend time
playing with your baby or with your partner. Or after making
what you think is a delicious baby meal, you've got a starving,
crying child that refuses to eat what you made. So have a stash
of the Earths Best stuff on hand and don't feel that your a bad
parent because you don't make every meal for your child. It has
been shown that the jarred food contains just as much nutrients
as fresh does.
First, if your baby was born at full term, healthy, and
particularly if the umbilical cord was not cut until it had
stopped pulsing, your baby is not going to just run out of iron
on the day he turns 6 months old. He'll probably be just fine
until at least a year old. It's true that breastmilk does not
provide high levels of iron, but the form of iron found in
breastmilk is more ''bioavailable'' than the form used in
supplements, and thus less of it is required.
That said, of course it's a good idea to start giving your baby
iron-rich foods when, or within a relatively short period of
time after, he starts solids. If you prefer not to use iron-
enriched cereals (and remember that Cheerios and the like are
iron-fortified, just as baby rice cereal is), you can try
brussels sprouts, beans, and meats. Of course, preparing meat
so that it's soft enough for a toothless infant to consume is a
royal pain; that's why most people just use cereal. :-)
Your baby's blood will be tested for iron level at his 9-month
or 12-month checkup. Don't worry about it unless and until that
test shows that more iron is needed.
It's about time to introduce my baby to carrots, but I've heard that home-cooked
carrots may contain high levels of nitrates. I checked the Berkeley Parents' website,
and saw that this question was asked a little over a year ago, but apparently never
answered. Is there anyone out there now who knows if I really need to avoid
home-cooked carrots? Thanks.
According to the book _Feeding your Child for Lifelong Health_ by
Susan B. Roberts and Melvin B. Heyman (Jane Brody had given it a good
write-up in the NY Times a few months ago), high-nitrate vegetables
should not be home-prepared before eight months. It is okay to buy
commercial baby foods because manufacturers screen their produce
before buying it. High-nitrate vegetables include beets, carrots,
green beans, squash, turnips, spinach and collard greens.
The reason to avoid nitrates, from what I understand of the authors'
explanation, is that young babies convert nitrates (with an "a") into
nitrites (with an "i"). Nitrites (found in hot dogs, hams, sausages,
etc.) can cause a form of anemia called methemoglobinemia. As stated
in the book, "... nitrites transform your baby's immature hemoglobin
into methemoglobine, which is unable to transport life-sustaining
oxygen around the body."
There are high amounts of nitrates in carrots, spinach and several
other vegetables. In rare instances, babies under a year old can have
very bad reactions to them. Baby food companies purchase these
vegetables from growers that test and condition the soil to ensure a
lower nitrate content. There is a paragraph or two in the What to
Expect the First Year book about avoiding vegetable nitrates during
the first year.
Many moms, particularly first-timers, seem to want to go the extra
yard and make their own baby food. I commend this attitude, but
frankly, as a mom who works full-time and is the primary person in
charge of all house-related issues (my partner has a VERY
time-consuming and stressful job, so given the choice, I'd rather he
spend quality time w/ the baby, and me), I could not even IMAGINE
having the time and energy to 'make my own'. There are quite a few
baby foods on the market, which are VERY good, and honestly, they even
taste okay! Look for the ones that are simply veggies, nothing else.
When I introduced our baby to carrots, she LOVED them -- in fact, the
pediatrician laughed that he didn't have to ask us if she was eating
her veggies, 'cause she had a faintly 'orange' color to her, so he
*knew* that she loved her carrots!
My pediatrician also said that nitrates are not of concern in carrots in our
area. (In fact our pediatrician said that the only problems he ever encountered
with babies who had homemade babyfood were problems relating to salt. I don't
usually use any salt in cooking, and since I always made my son's baby food in
bigger separate batches from our own it was a non issue for us.) Also, when I
was in the midst of the homemade baby food, I read MANY articles that said that
nitrates were only an issue if the child was under 6 months. After that the
liver should be able to handle the nitrates. Nitrates are not just found in
carrots either. I can't remember the list now that I am out of that stage, but
I think that turnips were on it too.
There are no nitrates in whole, organic, unprocessed carrots.
I got this response from the American Dietetic Association:
"Due to fertilization, root vegetables may contain small amounts of
nitrites. We would recommend that you utilize organically grown
produce if this a concern. If prepared and stored in a safe manner,
homemade babyfood is fine.
For safety issues the following resource has a section on babyfood
The American Dietetic Association's Complete Food and Nutrition Guide
call 800-877-1600 ext 5000"
Registered Dietitian Knowledge Center - Consumer Division
The American Dietetic Association
Regarding nitrates in carrots, my pediatrician told me that is true for
certain parts of the country, but it is not a problem here. For what
it is worth...
Hello, I have a question, as a newcomer to Berkeley and the mother of a
7 months old baby, about where to get not so expensive baby
food...? In all the stores near me, in Berkeley ( WHole Foods, Berkeley
Bowl), I find decent organic jars, but they are small, and my baby eats
two of them at lunch, and they end up costing a lot! Does anyone know
of another source of healthy nourishment for a hungry baby?
The high cost of baby food (organic or other) is one of the reasons I
started to make my own. It is very easy to do, and so inexpensive! Even if
you buy your produce at "full" price, it comes out cheaper than the
babyfood jars. There are several books you can buy to give you information.
Two that I have are "First Meals" by Anablle Karmel and "Super Babyfood" by
Ruth Yaron. You don't really need a book though. (I mostly use the books
for guidelines on when to start which foods and how to pick the more
"exotic" types.) All you need to do is cook (steaming and microwaving
retain the most nutrients), puree (I use a cuisinart, but you can use a
blender, moulee, or a strainer and push the food through with a spoon), and
then freeze the food in ice cube trays or your used baby food jars. I
defrost the food for the next day overnight in the fridge. Good Luck.
Organic baby food is ridiculously expensive, and the non-organic stuff isn't
much cheaper. Have you thought about making your own? For the last 6 months
I've been blending my own food and then frrezing it in ice-cube trays. It's
definitely cheaper, you can make your own combinations so you get more
variety, and since you make a large quantity at one time it's less work than
you would think. The book "Into the Mouths of Babes" has a lot of useful
information on recipes (i.e., how much water to add, cooking times, etc.);
you can probably find it at Cody's.
I made all my own baby food. It was pretty easy, especially with a
microwave oven. I cooked the food, mashed it in the food processor or food
mill, then froze it in dollops (cookie sized) on a tray with wax paper. It
was definitely cheaper than jarred, and my baby loved it. But it does take
more time than buying it. I don't work full time, so I was glad to do it.
Now that my baby is bigger, I don't have to mash it or freeze it. There is
a good book that can help with this if you are interested called Mommy Made
and Daddy Too.
If cost is an issue why not get a baby food grinder and just grind up your
own? This is what I did. It only takes a second to do. When you steam
organic carrots or potatoes etc. for the rest of the family (or yourself)
just don't season them with salt etc. until you've set aside one or two for
baby. Toss them into the grinder with a bit of the liquid and voila. Left
overs will keep in a tupperware for another meal. I did this and
supplemented with organic cereals (which are not expensive) and with jars
for when I was in a tearing hurry. My daughter actually preferred the fresh
food to the junior jars which she rejected later on (those ones with
noodles etc). Anything goes in the grinder pretty much. As baby grows you
just add more variety, pinto beans, spinach, broccoli, sweet potatoes,
whatever you are eating that is OK for the baby. Babies tend to love Tofu
which you can pop into boiling water for a few seconds and then add to the
mix for protein or later feed in small chunks as finger food. This is cheap
and available in organic. Once you get in the habit of just separating the
vegetables etc. for the baby it is very routine. Fresh ripe pears, prunes
dropped in boiling water, bananas, are also easy to grind/puree and feed to
the baby. The nice thing is that you control the amounts since you know how
much your baby eats. Also organic applesauce in the big jars (sold for
adults) come unsweetened with noadditives (check the label) and are much
cheaper than the little baby food jars. They also come with other fruits
(apricot, cherries, etc. ) for variety. Doing this you will find that the
"extra" cost of feeding the baby practically disappears.
I highly recommend getting a hand food grinder. They are inexpensive and
available in most drug stores. You just put some of the rest of the
family's food in the grinder and turn the crank and it comes out
nicely pureed. We fed both of our little ones bananas, sweet potatoes,
etc when they first started with solids. They eventually graduate
to eating whatever the rest of the family is having just pureed first.
You can also make up big batches of good organic bland food, puree it
in a blender, fill an ice cube tray and freeze it. Then you just
pop out however many cubes you want for that meal. It doesn't
work as well for bananas and the like but it works great for
I suggest that you try making it yourself. It is a lot easier than you think,
nutritous for your baby, and very affordable. All you need is a food grinder, a
or a food processor. If you don't already have one of these items you can easily find
tone at a garage sale or thrift store. There are many books (which you can also find
used or get from the library) about making your own baby food. I especially like
Made". Even if you don't want to make all of the food, you can certainly pop a sweet
potato or other squash in the oven and mash that up. I really think you'll be
at how easy it is to make your own food and how much better it is than the stuff in
jars. Good luck.
You asked for alternative sources of nutrition for a 7-month-old, besides
expensive baby food in a jar. Um--breastmilk? (Or formula?) My reading has
been that the main nutrition for children under 1 year old "should" be
coming from milk, with "solid" foods being introduced mainly to "teach" the
baby how to eat. So there may be little need for putting a lot of effort
into gathering/buying/preparing "solid" foods for your child to eat. If
you're very inclined to use pureed foods, how about something for
"grown-ups" that is readily available, like applesauce. Or you could make
your own apple, pear, peach or whatever sauces very easily by just cutting
up the fruit and simmering it on the stove for half an hour (you don't
really even need to add water, or else just add a tablespoon). It purees
itself as it cooks. Or mashed bananas or avocados or tofu. Or you can
puree just about anything (well-cooked of course, for vegetables or
obviously animal products) in your own blender. I know there are several
baby-food cookbooks available, but anything that needed an actual recipe
sounded like a lot of work to me. For portion control, I've read about
putting your purees into ice-cube trays and thawing them out one or two at a
time. Or you could do what I did, which was to simply hold off on "solids"
until my daughter could actually eat actual solid food from her own hand--at
age 11 months or so, I started giving her cheerios and banana chunks....By
that age she could also easily handle cheese, peas, any fruit, and even tiny
chunks of (organic--oops, there goes the expense factor again) tofu dogs.
This is in response to Caroline who wondered how to feed her baby
inexpensively. You can buy and prepare regular food and grind it up
(food processor, blender, or special "baby grinder") and make appetizing,
nutritious food for your child. You also know what is in the food and
how much it was processed. When my children were that age, I would make
a batch of baby food, freeze it in ice cube trays, and defrost the cubes
as needed in the microwave. Stir them well and test before serving.
Babies often prefer cubes of tofu to pureed meat. These can be served
right out of a freshly-opened package, or heated if it's a day or two
old. Sweet potatoes and yams are another great food that are easy to
bake and mash, and mix with apple juice or water to a good consistency.
Actually, the only reason to buy baby food in jars is for convenience on
trips and that kind of thing. Enjoy!
I bought 4 jars of expensive organic baby food when we first started
feeding solids and found one of them filled with mold. I tried to feed
our baby from the other three-- all of which she hated and after trying
them myself, I understood why. They tasted TERRIBLE. From then on we
fed her from our plates, either first chewing food up for her ourselves,
or running it through a small, hand-held food grinder. The cost is
obviously minimal and she seems to like almost everything we do
including feta cheese, food that is a bit spicy, meats, vegetables,
Chinese, Thai, Mexican, etc. Good luck.
Sometimes you can find baby food at the Canned Foods Grocery Outlet (near
4th and University). It varies as to what brand, but when I was in the
"market" for such food a couple years ago I did run into some
about-to-be-outdated jars of Earth's Best food there. You just never know.
Additionally, a friend of mine is a great believer in the do-it-yourself
school. She recently bought one sweet potato, cooked it and whirled it in
the blender with a little of the cooking water. She says it made about 14
"jars" of food. She put small amounts in snack-sized ziploc bags and froze
them. Saved a bundle. Another idea is to freeze the food in ice cube
trays, and then put the frozen cubes into another large ziploc for storage.
Then you can defrost the food one block at a time. Not so good when you
are on the road, but great if you are at home.
And of course you can get a food grinder and just grind up a bit of
whatever you are having for dinner. I didn't do that, and now I'm
regretting it, since my child has turned into a "picky" eater. I've heard
if you grind some of the family dinner, that it gets them used to whatever
you are serving. Makes sense to me.
Many readers suggested freezing the baby food and defrosting. This is very
convenient but you should be aware that freezing and thawing does involve
some nutrient loss. Also, some readers suggested just giving the baby
whatever the family wa eatimng from the plates of dinner-again this is
convenient but many children later develop allergies -at age 2,3-to food
that is introduced before 1 year of age (tomatoes,strawberries , peanuts
orange, egg s and dairy as well as wheat are common culprits. They can
develop into allergies that cause mucus, stufiness, coughing and asthma.)
also babies do not need and do not benefit from the salt and sugars we
routinely eat in our food, so this another reason not to feed them adult
I am glad that Cristina brought up the list of potential
allergens. As a highly allergic person, I was hyperaware of such things,
and it never occurred to me to mention them when suggested that table food
could be ground and fed to a baby. Of course when preparing your own baby
food and grinding food for the baby, you should only feed them food that is
OK for them and their developmental stage.
It's probably worth mentioning that one never knows about allergies either.
I was very careful about not feeding my baby from the list that was
mentioned. But she still developed allergies. Her first was to bananas--a
food that is considered highly inoffensive and a preferred "first food" for
many babies, since it's so easy to prepare fresh. She also has a contact
allergy to tomatoes, though I waited till well after age 1 to feed them to
her. And she has an allergy to soy. I had tried soy-based formula because
I didn't want to risk triggering a cow's milk allergy! My point is just
that, no matter how hard we try, allergies happen. It's certainly good to
avoid the most likely triggers, but if your child shows up with an allergy,
it's not necessarily "your fault."
Regarding the "salt and sugars we routinely eat in our food," I routinely
don't add salt in the cooking process, but wait to salt at the table. When
I am cooking my own food from scratch (as opposed to making something from
a box), there is usually a point at which I could pull out a small amount
of food (the peas before they get added to the casserole, for instance)
that would be largely unsullied by unnecessary additives. It's probably
worth noting that many babies, though, actually LIKE spices (garlic, onion,
basil, etc), and will show a preference for food that is spiced over food
that is completely bland (one study even showed that babies prefer the
breastmilk of mothers who just had a meal with garlic--it comes out in the
milk!). All of it in moderation, of course--you don't want to burn your
poor baby's mouth with hot pepper sauce!
Christina also points out that nutrients are lost in the freezing and
thawing process. This is certainly true, but I can't help but think that it
would still be better--or at least not worse--than purchasing jarred
babyfood, which is processed at very high temperatures. And when preparing
your own, you have more control over whether the produce is organic, for
instance. And preparing your own in quantity and freezing it is certainly
going to better address the original question--how to not go broke while
feeding your baby good food--than is simply purchasing good brands such as
We're all busy, and we're all broke. That seems to be the way of it, being
a parent! But with a little thought and a little effort, we can do the
best we can for our babies. I know I don't manage to do the best all the
time, but I figure every time I make an effort is better than when I don't.
Remember to treat yourself gently, and that you are as important as your
Thank you to the person who pointed out that feeding babies a number
of foods (tomatoes, strawberries, dairy, peanuts, eggs,
etc.) before one year of age can trigger off allergies and that babies
do not need salt and sugar in their diets. I disagree with the
conclusion though that therefore they should not be fed adult food from
our plates. We simply avoided these potentially
allergy-causing foods before one year and did not salt our baby's food,
and we rarily if ever use sugar. (We also eat primarily
organic foods.) We found/ find that feeding her what we eat --including
a wide variety of ethnic foods-- has been inexpensive,
convenient, and seems to please her as she will try and seems to like
most anything though we never force a food on her .
I have used and enjoyed "The Healthy Baby Meal Planner" by Annabel
Karmel. The recipes are simple to prepare and tasty enough to make in
larger batches for the whole family. The book is delightfully decorated
with dancing fruit and vegetables - a treat to the eye as well as the
Microwave Cooking for your Baby and Child: The ABC's of Creating Quick,
Nutritious Meals for Little Ones by Eileen Behan, R.D. is good. There is
also a book called Baby Let's Eat. I forget who the author is. You might
find used copies at children's resale stores. Good luck.
hi, this is a repeat of advice i sent to someone else who asked a similar
question. we really love this book at our house:
Feeding the Whole Family: Whole Foods Recipes for Babies, Young Children
and Their Parents by Cynthia Lair. The author is a nutrition counselor who
has written articles ocassionally for Mothering Magazine. The book
mentions their website: www.feedingfamily.com but i haven't checked it out.
I couldn't find the book around anywhere, but Diesel Bookstore on College
Ave. in Oakland ordered it for me and had it in less than a week. (please
support local bookstores instead of buying online!) It's a vegetarian
cookbook that includes sections on why feed your family whole foods, well
balanced family meals, why buy organic, and how to make changes. Recipes
are divided into the following sections: bustling breakfasts, lively
luchboxes (this section had indeed livened up our lunchbag/lunchtime
repetoire), soothing soups, substantial suppers, vital vegetables, fresh
breads and muffins, sauces and stuff, wholesome desserts and natural drinks
and brews. There are also sections on starting your baby on whole foods,
attracting your children to healthy eating and basic grain and bean
cookery. each recipe is followed by sections for babies 6 months and older
and for babies 10 month and older. The idea is not to cook separately for
the babies, but to adapt what you are making for the family. My partner,
our 10 month old and I have loved everything we've tried from this book.
It's easy reading and the recipes are very straightforward. Most of them
don't take too much time. We've had to add some staples to our pantry like
umeboshi vingear, mirin and a few other things. This book has made it
easier for us to eat healthy, tasty meals. buen provecho
this page was last updated: Sep 21, 2004
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are transitioning to a new website: BerkeleyParentsNetwork.org
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network