Homemade baby food recipes that feature spices, whole grains, and high-quality protein sources. I'm sharing a sneak peek of my baby food ebook, Hip Hip Purée! My Recipes for Feeding Bébé.
I’m sitting here, on a Sunday, working on my meal plan for my family this week.
As I’m writing out our dinners, I realize how lucky I am to have a toddler that eats well. I took a few steps to get to this place, and I want to share them with you in hopes that you have an adventurous eater one day, too.
I think the main reason I have an excellent eater for a toddler is because I made my own baby food with inventive spices and whole grains. I also included high-quality proteins, like salmon, quinoa and wild rice from an early age. She loved it, and I had so much fun making it! Plus, it was easy to stock my freezer!
Why homemade baby food recipes? Why not baby-led weaning?
I had a rough time with breastfeeding. My body could do it, but my mind was a mess. I constantly worried if I was making enough milk, and I almost fainted one day when I saw my friend’s kid (who was the same age as Camille) drink an 8-ounce bottle of formula while Camille gulped her meager 3.5 ounces of breastmilk. I felt like a horrible mom; I felt like I was under-feeding my kid.
Now I know that breastmilk fat content varies depending on the age of your baby, and it’s likely that my 3.5 ounces of breastmilk had the same amount of calories and fat as 8 ounces of formula. But at the time, I felt like I was quite literally starving my kid. Add that to the fact that I was pumping twice a day to get a mere 4 ounces total. See why I was such a mess?
I decided when she was 6 months old, we would try baby food purées. Camille was 5 months old at the time, and I immediately started reading about baby food. To put it simply, I was DESPERATE for her to get calories from somewhere else besides my boobs. And for that reason, baby- led weaning wasn’t right for us. I couldn’t wait another 6 months to start giving her small bites of my food. That was another agonizing 6 months of breast feeding, and I couldn’t put myself through it anymore.
Starting baby food at 6 months:
My first purée was steamed sweet potato blended with breastmilk. She took one spoonful, enjoyed the texture but never opened her mouth for another bite. I waited 2 weeks and tried again. I made the same sweet potato + breastmilk concoction, and she ate an entire tablespoon.
I remember feeling absolute joy and GLEA that she received calories from a place besides my boobs. I decided she would sleep so well that night because of that tablespoon of sweet potato purée. And I was right. She went to bed happy (after a quick nursing session), and I went to bed happy, too. I packed up my breast pump and never looked back.
Making Camille exciting homemade baby food recipes was my replacement for all the time I spent pumping and worrying about my supply. I read everything there was to read about baby’s first foods. I decided that after her first introduction to sweet potatoes, mashed avocado would be next, followed by mashed banana. I was careful to not introduce sweet purées too soon, for fear that she wouldn’t learn to appreciate savory flavors.
She gobbled up those 3 purées happily every night for 2 weeks. And then I was bored, and I imagined she was, too. I started to get inventive with my baby food purées, making flavor combinations that sounded good to me!
As I set about making her homemade applesauce, my eye caught the jar of cardamom pods in the pantry. I crushed one gently, and added it to the pot. After I puréed the applesauce, it had a slight chai flavor to it. Considering I ditched coffee during my pregnancy in favor of chai, I imagined that the cardamom flavor would be familiar to Camille since she got a venti dose of it every morning for 10 months in utero. I continued to drink so much chai that my breastmilk probably even had a chai flavor! I was right, she loved the applesauce with cardamom. I was overjoyed that her little palate could appreciate apples with some spice.
From there, these inventive homemade baby food recipes were born.
Iron-rich baby food, first:
I took my pediatrician’s advice and started her on meat purées. He said by age 6 months, a baby’s internal iron stores are depleted. And that’s how her baby Bolognese purée was born— beef with a little vitamin C from the tomatoes to help with iron absorption.
How to use this homemade baby food recipes ebook:
I’ve divided this baby food ebook into two sections: first purées for 6-9 months, and second purées for 9-12 months. At 9 months, even though Camille lacked teeth, she could handle some texture and chunks in her food. If your babe isn’t there yet, you can still make the second purées—just add extra water to make a smoother purée.
The fruit purées are a starting ground. Apple with cardamom, banana with nutmeg and mango with vanilla bean are a fun place to start; from there, continue to add spices that you would normally add to pies and cookies. Cinnamon, cloves, a pinch of ground ginger, and even star anise is welcome.
For serving fruit purées, I add a tablespoon or two of baby oatmeal or multigrain baby cereal for breakfast. I used the vegetable purées at dinner time, to which I would add baby rice cereal. I became fond of the Earth’s Best brand of baby cereals. I recommend buying baby cereal instead of just grinding grains yourself, because the baby cereals have added vitamins and minerals.
Fruit and veggie purees:
The fruit + veggie purées are something that I started out using at lunch time, and then Camille started asking for them for dessert after dinner. I loved giving her a spoonful of a fruit dessert that had the added benefit of veggies. Cherry + beet was one of her favorites. Pea + pineapple is a combination that we still use in our house when making green smoothies. The same is true for pear + cauliflower—I still love to use it as a base for a smoothie and it’s also great in oatmeal, too!
Meat purees and homemade baby food recipes 6 - 9 months and up:
I hope you love these baby food recipes. I believe that these unique flavor combinations coupled with strong spices gave Camille an excellent, adventurous palate. At 3 years old, salmon, broccoli, garlic-dill sauerkraut, and plain yogurt are some of her favorite foods.
I should have seen her adventurous palate coming a mile away. She loved these purées. The more spices I added, the happier she was. I have to look back and laugh at all the time I was stopped in the grocery store by people amused that Camille was chewing on a scallion while I shopped. That was before she was 2 of course, but I always think of it when she requests an onion bagel for breakfast. I think her love of onions and garlic was caused by my baby Bolognese recipe!
The purees for 9 months and up all contain a protein source, either dark meat chicken, quinoa, wild salmon, wild rice, or grass-fed ground beef. Plus, grass-fed butter, too!
I also included tips on the best way to store these homemade baby food recipes (hint: don't buy those baby food freezer trays, they're not ideal!).
Almost all of these baby food recipes can be made in 30 minutes or less, and they make 4+ servings. If you devote an hour a week to making purées, in just a few weeks, your freezer will be completely stocked.
I hope you and your baby love these purées, and I hope you know that time spent creating an adventurous eater will be a lifelong joy for both you and your children.
Here's a link to buy the book full of my homemade baby food recipes. I hope you love it, and please, let me know if you have any questions! I'm here for you! If you lose this post, you can always find a link to the ebook on my STORE PAGE.