Now that you’ve prepped your kitchen with the necessary tools to get started on the path to making homemade baby food for your little one, let’s talk produce. I should probably mention that I’m not a doctor, so I’ll insert the necessary caution to always consult with your doctor about your baby’s nutrition before starting down any path. Of course we all know that breastmilk or formula (or both) will be the foundation of your little one’s nutrition for the first twelve months, but if you are a foodie like me, the moment my daughter hit 6 months, started taking an interest in solid foods and could sit with us in a high chair at the table, I couldn’t wait to get started down the solid food path.
As I mentioned before I sit firmly in the camp of wanting to expose my LO to a wide range of tastes, smells, and textures. Of course my daughter only has two teeth so we are firmly in the camp of purees. But I encourage you from experience — purees can be all of those things tasty, fragrant, and by no means boring. So let’s run through some of the best produce items to have in your kitchen, fruits and veg (and a few mix ins and spices) that will satisfy your baby’s desire to start eating.
Fruits vs. Veg?
There are no doubt people who will argue one or the other that veggies vs fruits are the best place to start. My advice — what’s most important is introducing all types of produce, not where you start. Just make sure you allow your baby to taste things a few times to make sure there are no allergic reactions. Research is changing regarding the introduction of typical “allergen” foods, so be sure to talk to your doctor about this.
Best fruits for purees
Fruits that yield a creamy texture when cooked down are what we need to seek out. Apples are typically what we think of first for purees, but consider the alternatives. Instead of just applesauce, why not mix in Asian pears? Also very high in fiber, these pears provide a unique taste alternative to the traditional apple. You can experiment and combine the two. Here is a great recipe to try.
Other terrific options – Peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots, mangoes, banana, avocado (my little one’s personal favorite – and it’s super tasty pureed raw with a little cumin and lemon juice).
Be sure to remove skins and any pits before cooking these down.
Don’t discount fruits like melons and oranges because of their water content or pulp. These can be pureed and served raw, or you can roast them to reduce water content (and add a burst of flavor), or blend them with a little yogurt to increase their creaminess.
Spices and herbs will turn fruits from yum to WOW, so don’t neglect to also introduce your LO to them as well. Great options for fruits: cinnamon, vanilla bean, mint, basil
Best vegetables for purees
The great thing about Abundant Harvest is the access to such a wide variety of produce, especially vegetables. Like with fruits, veggies that cooked down to a creamy texture are what you should look for.
Great options for veggie purees – carrots, sweet potatoes, rutabagas, pumpkin, turnips, cauliflower, broccoli, even greens like kale and rapini can be cooked down and blended to the right consistency for your baby to enjoy.
Don’t fear texture. Texture in food is a good thing, just make sure the consistency of the puree is safe for baby to swallow. But if you still want to increase the creaminess, try adding in a little soft cheese (we love the Laughing Cow swiss cheese triangles – I mean LOVE) and they are a perfect add – in to a broccoli puree.
Experiment with garlic. Not just garlic but a variety of spices and herbs will help turn simple veggies into something baby craves. Try mixing carrots with thyme or mint, or a little cumin. Use orange, lemon, or lime juice to help smooth out veggies and add extra flavor. Take your favorite kale and shallots side dish you are making for your dinner, blend it up and see if baby wants a spoonful. If you like it, there is a pretty good chance baby will too.
Make eating fun and hands-on
I fully prepared myself for feeding my little one with a spoon, making all the necessary funny faces and airplane sounds to make it happen. First, she was super excited to start eating solids that nothing was a chore (I’m lucky I know!), but second she wanted to take control from the beginning (definitely my daughter) which typically results in baby wielding the spoon and pretty much no food making it in her mouth. My husband found this fabulous little feeder that can hold the puree and allows baby to feed herself. She learns the importance of chewing (and soothes her while teething) and mess is reduced. This makes mom very happy.