Homemade Baby Food

Does anyone else find it a little frightening that jarred baby food could have been on the shelf of the supermarket for longer than your baby has been alive? Or that the jars are filled with muted, dingy colored food. Fresh fruits and vegetables are beautifully colored and vibrant! Baby food should too!

So when my first daughter was born, I knew for certain that I would make her baby food myself. What I didn’t expect was how much I would end up enjoying it. Thinking of new combinations to try, making huge batches on weekends, and seeing her reaction with each new taste. I felt good about feeding her only fresh, organic food, and it was so much fun turning her into a little foodie.

By the time my second daughter was born, I had mastered the basics of baby food making, and was ready to experiment a little more. Once she turned 6 months I consulted our pediatrician, and with her concurrence, threw out the charts saying which foods baby should eat first, and instead chose her first foods based on what was available at our local farmer’s market.

Her food progression follows the seasons, always taking advantage of what is available at the famer’s market, locally grown and organic. Occasionally we have to grab a bag of frozen peas from Trader Joe’s, or some organic baby carrots from the market down the street, but for the most part, it is only what we find at the market. She eats unique combinations that sounds like something off of the menu of a fancy restaurant. I add herbs and spices to her purées. I also haven’t worried about waiting until a certain age to introduce different foods. (With a few exceptions, such as honey and shell fish.) *This way of introducing foods may not be for everyone, it was a decision that I made after a lot of research and in consultation with our pediatrician. You should always check with your pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns about feeding your baby.*

If you are considering making your own baby food, I highly recommend it. It is not nearly as complicated or as time-consuming as you might think. With just a few supplies and a bit of prep work, you can feed your baby fresh, healthy, organic baby food without ever opening a jar.

Feeding Baby - Supplies for making your own baby food

Feeding Baby - Beaba Freezer Tray

You will need:

  • fresh, organic fruits and vegetables
  • a few different pots – nothing special, just use what you have
  • a steaming basket or strainer
  • a rubber spatula – again, just use what you have
  • a blender – Don’t fall into the trap of buying a baby-specific blender. While the idea is great, to steam and blend in one, they only make a serving or two at a time, which isn’t the best usage of your time. Also, they are expensive and won’t be used for long. You will be much better off investing in a really good blender, that can be used long after your baby is done with purées. You can also just use whatever blender you already have, a nice blender just makes things a little faster and easier. We have been using this blender for years and are very happy with it.
  • glass jars to store food in the refrigerator – I like to store a few servings in the fridge right after I make the purée, but only the amount that will be used within the next 24 hours. I use Weck jars with an air-tight lid for storing, and also for serving.
  • freezer trays – Anything that won’t be in the next day or so goes into a Beaba Multiportion Freezer Tray. I love that it freezes in nice 2 ounce portions, and comes in bright, fun colors. If you prefer to freeze in 1 ounce portions instead, this cube ice tray also works well.
  • freezer ziplock bags and a permanent marker

Feeding Baby - fresh, locally-grown, organic baby food made easy

Everything you need to know about making your own fresh, homemade baby food! Step-by-step photos, plus recipes, cooking, storage, jars, freezing, resources, tips, tricks, etc. A must for every parent!

How to make baby food purées:

  • Start with fresh, organic, fruits or vegetables.
  • Cut into small pieces.
  • Steam until soft. Reserve the cooking water.
  • Transfer steamed fruit or vegetable to a blender. Add a little bit of the cooking water.
  • Blend until very smooth, adding little bits of cooking water to reach your desired consistency.
  • Transfer to small jars to store in the refrigerator. These mini Weck jars are just over 2 ounces which are the perfect serving size.
  • Keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 24 hours.
  • To store food in the freezer, transfer the freshly prepared food into a freezer safe tray.
  • Freeze for a few hours, then pop out cubes of food and store in a zipper bag in the freezer. Write the date on the outside of the bag with a permanent marker and use within 3 months. (You should also label the bag with what kind of puree is inside, because asparagus, broccoli, green beans and peas all look remarkably similar once pureed.)

Feeding Baby - The Basics

When you are ready to use the frozen cubes of food, you can place a cube right into the mini Weck jar to thaw. It can be warmed in the microwave on low or in a small pan of simmering water.

Simple Homemade baby food

You can serve right in the little glass jars that you stored the food in. A few less dishes is always a good thing!

Feeding Baby - Adding Herbs to homemade baby food

Now that you have the basics of making baby food purées down, it is time to start experimenting! See how colorful you can make your baby’s meal. Try combining a few different flavors. Add some herbs or spices. Try parsley, rosemary, mint, sage, or cilantro. And don’t be afraid to try some of the purées yourself. They are surprisingly delicious!

I am so excited to share more tips on making baby food, as well as a few of my favorite baby and toddler recipes with you all. And if you have any specific questions, please leave it in the comments below and I will be sure to answer it in an upcoming feeding baby post.

Bon apétit, buen provecho, guten appetit baby!

Colorful homemade baby food

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The Accidental Empress; To Kill a Mockingbird; We Should All be Feminists; The Night Circus

On My Bookshelf this month:

The Accidental Empress  |  The incredible story of Empress Elisabeth “Sisi” of Austria. At the age of 15, she accompanies her older sister, who was betrothed to the young Emporor Franz Josef, to Austria. Though shortly thereafter, she and Franz Josef fall in love and he instead chooses to marry her, making her the Empress of the great great Austro-Hungarian empire. It is a fascinating look into 19th century Europe, and ignited my desire to learn everything there is to know about the Hapsburgs and Imperial Vienna. This book was also the motivation behind my trip to Bad Ischl.  |  “A deity does not quake simply because the crowd yells. An empress stands fixed, immutable: the calm that continues on, even as the world rages.”

To Kill a Mockingbird  |  This was my absolute favorite book in High School, and I wanted to re-read it before the release of Harper Lee’s new novel, Go Set a Watchman. I can confidently say that this is still the best book I have ever read. Hidden beneath the sweet story of two children living with their lawyer father in the South during the Great Depression is a book that touches on race, equality, morality, innocence, kindness, hatred, and empathy. There is a reason why this book has won a Pulitzer Prize and is considered a masterpiece of American Literature.  |  “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

We Should All be Feminists  |  Based on the very popular TEDx talk by the same name, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie explains feminism for the 21st century.  |  “Some people ask: “Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that?” Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general—but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women…The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are. Imagine how much happier we would be, how much freer to be our true individual selves, if we didn’t have the weight of gender expectations.”

The Night Circus  |  Two illusionists are chosen at a young age to take part in a competition that will last the rest of their lives. The arena for the competition is a very magical circus. “The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called “Le Cirque des Reves,” and it is only open at night.” If you have the opportunity, listen to the audio version of this book. It is wonderful!  |  “Life takes us to unexpected places sometimes. The future is never set in stone, remember that.”

Have you read any good books lately?

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A few years ago I fell in love with some Calendula salve that I picked up at our local farmer’s market. Once it ran out, I set out to make my own. But as I was researching the benefits of calendula, I came across some other herbs and flowers that I wanted the benefits of as well. I chose a combination of 6 that heal nearly every skin ailment I could ever think of, and made a balm that is nothing short of a miracle. Which is why I started calling it my Miracle Healing Balm.

Here are the botanicals that I include, and the impressive benefits of each:

Chamomile | Known for its calming properties, chamomile soothes the skin, reduces redness and irritation, and heals skin wounds, eczema, rosacea, bruises, burns, hemorrhoids and even mastitis.

Plantain Leaf | Naturally antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, plantain leaf helps to relieve pain, burning and itching of insect and snake bites, rashes and cuts.

Rose Hip | Extremely high in vitamins, antioxidants and essential fatty acids, rose hip oil reduces redness and irritation, and helps repair damaged skin, burns, scars, and skin ulcers.

Lavender | The antibacterial, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and antiseptic properties of lavender make it effective in healing skin wounds, burns, insect bites and stings, sunburns, acne and other skin abrasions. Lavender also helps prevent infections and promotes new cell growth.

Calendula | Antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antiviral, astringent and immunostimulant, Calendula has been used for centuries to heal wounds and treat skin irritations such as cuts, scrapes, burns, bee stings, diaper rash, acne, athlete’s foot, and chapped or chafed skin.

Comfrey Leaf | The anti-inflammatory properties of comfrey leaf help speed the healing of skin wounds, burns and scalds.

I love this combination, and have found it very effective, but you can use any botanicals that you like.

Start by making an oil infusion.

Add all of your herbs and flowers to a sterilized glass jar with an airtight lid. Cover with the oil of your choice. I like to use cold pressed extra virgin olive oil. It is easy to find, rich in vitamins A and E, and super moisturizing.

Set the jar on a sunny windowsill and leave it for 4-6 weeks, shaking daily. You can speed this step up a bit by placing the jar in a slowcooker filled with water on the lowest setting for 24-48 hours.

Using a small mesh sieve and a funnel, carefully pour the oil into a clean glass jar. Squeeze the herbs and flowers carefully to get all of the oil out of them before discarding.

The miracle healing oil is finished.

Now to turn it into a balm…

Start with organic beeswax. You can usually find this at your farmer’s market, at the booth selling honey. It isn’t always advertised that they sell the beeswax, so make sure to ask.

You want a ratio of about 1 part beeswax to 4 parts oil.

To make the balm:

  1. Simmer a small amount of water in a saucepan. Put the beeswax into a small jar.
  2. Pour the infused oil into the jar with the beeswax. Place the jar into the pot of water, making sure that the water level is lower than the lip of the jar. Turn the heat down so that the water is not yet simmering, but still very warm.
  3. Stir with a toothpick until all of the wax has melted.
  4. Remove the jar from the pot of water and let cool until hardened. If your balm is too solid, reheat, and add more oil. If it is too soft, reheat and add more beeswax.

Baby & Belly Balm

For a balm safe for pregnant bellies and fresh baby skin, I make an oil infused with only calendula. This is wonderful for preventing stretch marks and soothing itchy, stretched skin. For babies, this can be used everywhere – on diaper rash, dry skin, cradle cap, eczema, little scratches, etc.

In our house, we call the calendula balm “magic cream” because it works for just about anything. The girls use it anytime they get a booboo, and it instantly makes them feel better. We also use it on scratches, scrapes, chapped lips, wind-burned cheeks, rashes, insect bites, and even inside dry nostrils to prevent bloody noses.

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Avery's 5th Birthday

For the most part, my kids are good eaters. But there are those days. The days when their desired meal consists of plain pasta, a piece of baguette, and some white rice on the side.

It is those days that I have to try to appeal to their love of all things rainbows.

A few fruits and vegetables on the edge of their plate will easily be pushed to the side in order to eat more of their beloved white carbs. But arranging the fruits and veggies like a rainbow on a plate? Game changer.

It seems so simple, but trust me, it works!

Just take whatever fruits and vegetables you have on hand (the more colorful the better) and arrange them artfully on a nice plate or platter. Bye bye plain white pasta!

Avery's 5th Birthday


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The Help; Vibrant Food; All The Light We Cannot See; Pillars of the Earth

On My Bookshelf for April:

The Help  |  Set in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960’s, a young socialite determines to write a book about what it is like to be a black maid in the South. This is an amazing book, but especially for those of us in the Foreign Service who live in countries where household help is the norm. Are we all that different from the “white folk” in this book?  |  “Every morning, until you dead in the ground, you gone have to make this decision. You gone have to ask yourself, ‘Am I gone believe what them fools say about me today?'”

Vibrant Food  |  I choose my cookbooks based on the quality of the photographs, and this book is chock-full of beautiful photos featuring colorful, seasonal ingredients. It is a bonus when the recipes are just as wonderful as the photos! My favorite is the Summer Squash Pasta With Green Goddess Dressing.  |  “Celebrating the Ingredients, Recipes, and Colors of Each Season”

All The Light We Cannot See  |  The lives of a blind French girl and a young German soldier become intertwined in occupied France as they both deal with the devastation of WWII. The book is so exquisitely written, I didn’t want it to end.  |  “You know the greatest lesson of history? It’s that history is whatever the victors say it is. That’s the lesson. Whoever wins, that’s who decides the history. We act in our own self-interest. Of course we do. Name me a person or a nation who does not. The trick is figuring out where your interests are.”  “But it is not bravery; I have no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don’t you do the same?”

The Pillars of the Earth  |  Set in 12th century England, this story follows the lives of those involved in building the largest Cathedral in the world. Since we currently live in Europe, where every city, village and town has amazing churches and cathedrals, this was a fascinating look into what went into the construction, from the actual architecture to the struggle for power.  |  “Having faith in God did not mean sitting back and doing nothing. It meant believing you would find success if you did your best honestly and energetically.”

What are you reading this month?

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