I was visiting my friend this past weekend while she was making her baby’s food for the week. Sweet potatoes and avocados were her son’s favorite. She’s a busy working mom and tries to make the food in bulk on the weekends to put in the freezer until she needs it. It seemed like she had her baby food making process perfected. Some parents buy baby food, others feed their babies homemade baby food. Some parents switch back and forth between the two. Whatever you decide, choose healthy foods and if you make your own baby food, learn how to safely prepare it.
Where to start
• The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastfed babies get only breast milk for the first 6 months of life, but some babies may be ready for solid foods between 4 to 6 months. Look for cues to know when your baby is ready for solid foods.
• Give your baby one new food at a time and wait 2-3 days before starting another. Watch for allergic reactions such as diarrhea, rash or vomiting.
• At each meal, your baby should be eating 4 ounces, or the amount of one small jar of baby food.
• Your baby’s diet can include: Breastmilk and/or formula, meats, cereal, veggies, fruits, eggs and fish.
Keep foods safe
• Make foods soft and easy to swallow; do not serve any food that requires chewing.
• Avoid added salt, sugar, fat, seasonings or preservatives.
• Read our blog post on feeding your baby organic vs. non-organic foods.
• Wash all fruits and veggies with water before you cook them – even those with a peel.
• Remove all pits, seeds and skin before use, as these may cause your baby to choke.
• Make sure all of your kitchen counters and food utensils are clean. Always wash your hands before handling foods and feeding your baby.
Do not feed your baby these foods
• Beets, turnips, green beans, squash, carrots and spinach. These foods may contain a high amount of nitrates, which are chemicals that can cause methemoglobinemia, a type of anemia in young babies.
• Honey, which may contain Clostridium botulinum spores, is not recommended for children under 1 year of age.
• Raw or partially cooked eggs, due to the risk of Salmonella.
• Cook all veggies and fruits thoroughly so your baby can digest them better. Some foods such as avocados, bananas, plums, ripe papaya, peaches and apricots don’t need to be cooked.
• Use fresh produce within a day or two of buying them to maintain vitamins and minerals. Or try frozen or canned vegetables and fruits. Make sure to read the label to avoid added sugar and salt.
• Use a blender or food processor or mash soft foods with a fork before serving.
• Reheat foods to body temperature. The AAP recommends that if microwaving is used, to stir the foods thoroughly to even out the temperature and taste test before serving to your child.
Do’s and don’ts
• Do steam, microwave, bake or broil as cooking methods for your baby’s food, but don’t boil or fry.
• Do save time by making more than just one meal. Don’t use leftover food to make homemade baby food. For information on putting leftovers in the fridge and freezer, read our web article.
• Do give your baby single ingredient meals, whether home-made or store bought.
• Do throw out any leftovers from your baby’s dish. Saliva from your baby’s feeding spoon can spoil the food left on the dish or in the jar.
• If you have concerns about the foods your child is eating or you are wondering if he is gaining enough weight, DO contact your baby’s health care provider.
Have questions about preparing food for your baby? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.