Tips for safely making homemade baby food

Making your own baby food can be simple, easy, and cost-effective!

Applesauce being picked up with a spoon.
Photo: MapleHorizons/Pixabay.

Making your own homemade baby food can provide improved control over your baby’s dietary intake, introduce your baby to fresh and seasonal foods and be cost-effective. Introducing solids to a baby usually begins at around six months of age, or when the baby is developmentally ready.

Prior to making homemade baby food, wash your hands for 20 seconds using soap and warm water.

Use fresh, quality foods whenever possible. If using frozen food, make sure it contains no added sugar, salt or sauces. If using canned foods, choose those without salt or fruits packed in their own juice. If this is not possible, pour off any syrup or salty water and rinse the food with clean water.

Follow these guidelines to prepare safe homemade baby food:

  • Fruits and vegetables: Wash under lukewarm running water and scrub using your hands or a vegetable brush. Peel and remove all seeds or pits from fruits or vegetables. Cook firm or hard fruits and vegetables until tender.
  • Meat: Remove all bones, fat and gristle from meat or poultry. Bake, broil, poach, boil or steam meat or poultry until cooked to recommended minimum internal temperatures to ensure safe cooking.
  • Puree: At first, food should be completely pureed. As your baby grows and develops, move to mashing and then dicing into small pieces. Blend, food process or grind and strain until the texture is safe for your baby’s stage of development. Add water, breastmilk or formula if needed to achieve the desired consistency. If you wish to use the same foods that the family eats, set aside a baby’s portion before adding salt, sugar, spices, gravy or sauces.

When serving homemade baby food:

  • Allow it to cool before serving to baby.
  • Never chew foods before feeding them to your baby – this can add bacteria to the food that could harm your baby.
  • Discard any leftover baby food not consumed within two hours. Do not keep unused portions that were spoon fed out of container.

To freeze your homemade baby food in small portions for storage, use one of these methods:

  • Ice-cube tray method: Pour cooked and pureed baby food into the sections of a clean ice cube tray. Cover the tray with aluminum foil, plastic wrap or a tight-fitting cover. Place it in the freezer where it can stay flat and upright.
  • Cookie sheet method: Put one to two tablespoons of cooked, pureed food in separate areas on a clean cookie sheet. Cover the sheet with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Place it in a level spot in the freezer. After the baby food is frozen solid in the ice cube tray or on the cookie sheet, remove the pieces and place them in a food-grade freezer containers or plastic freezer bags.

Place each type of food in its own container. Label the container with the name of the food and the date it was made. Remove one piece at a time for serving. Thaw each piece in the refrigerator, stove top or microwave; never thaw food at room temperature. Homemade baby food can last for up to two days in the refrigerator and one month in the freezer. Never refreeze baby food.

For more information on food safety during infancy, visit MSU Extension's Safe Food = Healthy Babies website for resources and articles.

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