The best way to stay on track with a healthy lifestyle is getting into a routine early. It seems parents sometimes get trapped into thinking their children will only eat things like chicken nuggets and chips (which, yes, is always great in a last minute situation), but most of the time it’s because healthy eating habits aren’t established earlier on that children are less likely to reach for their greens as they grow older. Getting children accustomed to unprocessed, real foods as earlier as possible will keep them healthier and less likely to get hooked on the sugars and fats that processed food includes. Fresh fruits and veggies are also far more budget friendly than prepackaged goods and a one-time investment in a blender and a few containers is all you really need to get yourself started!
Read along for our favourite do it yourself baby food recipes that we’ve collected which you can make for your wee one at home that won’t break the bank and encourage the whole family to eat well and feel great!
For the first few months, your baby will require little more than breast milk or formula, depending on which you choose. Though it’s recommended by some experts that you wait until 6 months before starting on solid foods, you may begin to experiment around 4 months as many developmental milestones, such as sitting up unassisted and holding their head upright, will have possibly been reached by this point. Double check with your doctor if you’re unsure, but certain studies have shown that children that start on solid foods earlier have less of a chance of developing allergies and intolerances so it can’t hurt to give it a try.
When children begin on solid food, portion sizes are quite small (1-2 tablespoons) so keep that in mind if you’re making your own to ensure you don’t waste. Make sure you’re aware of the likelihood of allergies to certain foods and pay attention to how your child reacts to certain food such as eggs, nuts, fish, wheat and soy, which tend to be the most common allergens.
The most important thing when making your own food is to ensure it’s blended into a smooth puree. Babies can choke on foods the size of a pea, so ensure that there are no chunks in the puree. Single fruit or veg meals are the best to begin on as it gets your baby used to the natural flavours of these foods and will allow you to spot an allergy much easier.
Touted as the superfood of the baby food world, peas are chock full of protein, Vitamins A & C, iron, calcium and folate.
*Preserve It!* Most baby purees can be easily divided in simple ice cube trays which can be defrosted as needed! Keep in the freezer for up to 3 months or in the refrigerator for 3 days in an air-tight container!
450 g of fresh/frozen organic peas
2 tbsp water
- Steam frozen peas for 2 minutes in a microwave-safe bowl with a bit of water. Peas should be plump and a bright shade of green when ready.
- Pop the peas into a food processor or blender and puree for approximately 2 minutes or until the texture is smooth. You may need to add more water to reach the desired effect. Sometimes the skin causes the puree to be a bit rougher so you may wish to strain for a silkier mouthfeel.
Butternut squash is a great source of antioxidants, fibre and Vitamin A. It also contains lots of minerals such as iron, zinc, copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorous which make it an overall great food for babies. Another simple recipe, this batch can also be frozen for up to 3 months or kept in the fridge for up to 3 days. A bonus of the size of butternut squash, use half for puree and use the rest for your own tasty lunch! This recipe is advised from 6 months.
1 small to medium butternut squash
- Preheat the oven to 190ºC.
2. Cut the squash in half from top to bottom and scoop out the seeds and fibrous bits.
3. Put both halves face down into a baking dish and add 125ml of water to dish.
4. Bake in oven for about 45 mins to an hour – until the squash is soft. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
5. One completely cool, remove the soft skin by scooping out the squash out and directly into a food processor. Blend until smooth. Add breast milk, formula or fresh water if you need to thin the mixture out a bit.
By this point, your baby will have at least a few weeks of solid foods and be getting used to the new flavours and consistencies. Now is a great time to start introducing various spices and combinations to give your children a great and varied palette from earlier on. This will create a great base for trying new foods as they grow older. While we can’t guarantee they’ll still be keen to eat their spinach as toddlers, celebrating fruits and veggies earlier will make them less taboo later on.
Making meals the whole family can enjoy gives a feeling of togetherness and, most importantly, can save a lot of time as children grow up. Curries are great as you can put all sorts of veg in to make sure your little ones are getting all the nutrients they need. Remove their portion earlier on to mash up, then continue to season and serve for yourself with rice and naan.
½ red pepper
1 400g can of chopped tomato
1 diced medium potato
½ tsp curry powder
½ tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp olive oil
- Add the oil to a pan and heat along with the onion for 2 minutes. Add the curry and garlic powders and cook for 2 more minutes.
- Add veg and slowly stir in the tin of tomatoes.
- Cover pan with a lid and simmer for 30-40 minutes, checking and stirring occasionally. Add water if it thickens too much.
- Once ready, remove from heat and mash to the right consistency, ensuring there are no larger chunks.
It’s important to get a good mix of vegetables and fruit to introduce your baby to a bunch of new flavours. While we don’t suggest processed foods with added sugars, fruits and berries offer a great source of natural sweetness that pairs great with a yoghurt for a yummy breakfast (that mum can enjoy with a bit of muesli as well!)
125 g fresh or thawed frozen blueberries
125 g fresh or thawed frozen raspberries
Plain whole-milk yoghurt, for serving
- Blend the berries in a food processor until they become a smooth puree. Strain through a sieve to remove any seeds and put into a small pan.
- Turn the pan onto medium heat and bring the puree to simmer until it begins to thicken – which should take about 5 minutes. Pour into a bowl and allow to cool. This should make approximately 170ml of puree.
- Serve by adding a few spoonfuls to a bowl of plain yoghurt.
*Though I know we love to add a spoon of honey to our breakfast yoghurts, it’s advised not to give babies honey in the first year. It can contain bacteria that can be damaging to a baby’s intestines and can lead to infant botulism.*
By this point, babies will have begun teething. They will also happily feed themselves, which leads to an entertaining mealtime. Having finger foods on hand such as tortilla breads, banana slices and quartered grapes, even before 9 months, will encourage them to chew their food as their teeth grow in. After months of pureeing and mashing, your baby is now old enough to begin eating more whole foods, though making sure they are prepared correctly will prevent choking hazards. Feeding them the same meals as your eating is also fair game, just pulse them through the food processor first to break down into an easier to eat consistency.
Fish, such as salmon, is incredibly good for a growing baby’s brain and is great to introduce within their first year. This dish is also quick and easy to prepare and is a tasty choice for the whole family!
50 g (2 oz) salmon fillet
150 ml (1/4 pint) unsalted vegetable or chicken stock
40 g (1 1/2 oz) baby pasta shells
a knob of butter
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
2 tsp plain flour
100 ml (3 1/2 fl oz) milk
50 g (2 oz) broccoli, roughly chopped
3 tbsp creme fraiche
3 tbsp grated Parmesan
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp fresh dill, chopped
1/2 tsp fresh chives, chopped
- Poach the salmon in a small amount of stock over a low heat for 3-4 minutes or microwave with a few spoonfuls of stock for approximately 2 minutes. Cooked salmon should flake easily with a fork.
- In the meantime, cook the pasta and drain.
- For the sauce, melt the butter in a pan, add the onion and saute for 3-4 minutes until soft. Add the flour and mix then add in the leftover stock and milk. After you’ve brought that to a boil, add the broccoli and simmer for 5-6 minutes until soft.
- Put sauce contents into food processor and blend until smooth. Add back to saucepan and stir in the creme fraiche, parmesan, lemon juice, herbs and cooked salmon and simmer for 2 minutes. Pour sauce over pasta to serve.
This dish, like many stews and hearty meals, can be as chock full of veg as you’d like. Carrots, celery, parsnips or any in-season root vegetables are great. Simply adjust the amount of stock to ensure it all cooks evenly. It’s also a great time-saving meal as you can prep it in the morning in the slow cooker and have a warming, nutritious meal by dinner time!
1 small diced onion
1l of vegetable stock
5-6 small diced red potatoes
230 g lean beef – diced
1 sprig fresh thyme
This is the easy part!
- Add all ingredients to your slow cooker, pop the lid on, and simmer for 5-6 hours on low.
If this is for the whole family, remove a portion or two for your wee one, and, once it’s cooled completely, add to the food processor. Make sure you remove the thyme stem before processing. If you’re blending a larger amount to keep, freeze into ice cube trays or cupcake tins for slightly larger portions.
Ensuring your child is getting as many vitamins and nutrients as they grow is crucial to their development. Though it might seem like added work in your already busy life, making these baby food recipes at home will, in the end, save you time and money – especially if you freeze extras for later. Making food at home from scratch also encourages you to do the same, getting the whole family eating well. Processed foods are full of unnecessary sugars and chemicals that a growing baby simply doesn’t need and, if you don’t find canned or jarred food all that appetising, there’s a good chance that your baby won’t either. Choose a wide variety of foods that invite your child to expand their palate and be more open to flavours, spices and, in turn, hopefully become a less picky and more healthy eater as they grow up!