Offering Pureed Baby Food

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Introducing Food

Introduce foods around 6 months of age when showing signs of readiness.

Signs of Readiness

  • Holds neck steady
  • Sits without support
  • Opens mouth when food is offered
  • Draws in lower lip when spoon is removed from mouth
  • Keeps food in mouth and swallows it
  • Reaches for food showing interest

Starting solids too soon can…

  • Cause choking
  • Be hard for baby to digest
  • Prevent baby from getting enough breast milk or formula for best growth

Food can be offered in different ways. See the Baby-Led Weaning method (also known as baby-lead feeding) for an alternative way to offer foods to baby.

When offering pureed baby foods…

  • Have baby sitting up.
  • Make sure the food is not too hot.
  • Add only one new food at a time every 3 to 5 days. Watch for allergic reactions.
    • Signs of allergic reaction include: hives or welts, flushed skin or rash, face, tongue, or lip swelling, vomiting and/or diarrhea. 
  • Homemade or purchased pureed baby foods can be used.
  • When opening jarred baby food, listen for the pop. This tells you it is safe to eat. Do not feed if you don’t hear the lid pop.
    • Do not feed straight from the jar.  Always put into another dish and feed with a spoon. Throw away any left-over food in the dish—do not put it back in the jar.  Spit mixed with the food will make the food spoil.
    • Store left-over clean jar food in the refrigerator. Use within 2 days.
  • Baby does not need salt, grease, fat, or sugar added to any of his foods. Baby’s tastes are not the same as yours. (Taste some formula or breast milk and you’ll get the idea.) 
  • Do not provide honey until 12 months of age due to risk of infant botulism.

Food Groups

Grains

  • Grain products make good finger foods:  whole grain crackers, dry WIC cereal, bread, noodles, mashed rice, soft tortilla pieces, toast, etc.
  • When baby foods are mastered, try cooked plain rice and noodles mashed or chopped.
  • Look for whole grain options. Explore the Whole Grains Food Group to learn more about whole grains.
  • Infant cereal can be fed until baby reaches one year of age. Begin with single-grain infant cereal. On average infant eat 4-6 Tbsp per day.
    • No need to add sugar, syrup or any other sweeteners to cereals.
    • If baby refuses infant cereal, try making teething biscuits or mixing it into other foods. See the Recipe section for a homemade teething biscuit recipe.

Infant Cereal

Remember, this is different than breakfast cereal that children and adults consume. This is cereal specifically made for infants and can be found in the baby section near the baby food.

  • Start with single grain cereals. Make the cereal thin, mix 1 teaspoon of dry cereal with 2-3 tablespoons of breastmilk or iron fortified formula.
  • All babies will develop their own feeding pattern, but on average babies will eat 4-8 Tbsp mixed with breastmilk or iron-fortified formula.

Fruits & Vegetables

  • Start with pureed fruits and vegetables. Remember to introduce one new food at a time every 3-5 days. Don’t use fruit desserts or fruit mixes with added sugar.
  • All babies will develop their own feeding pattern, but on average babies will eat 2-4 Tbsp twice daily.
  • Plain fruits and vegetables are the best. No need to add salt, sugar, syrups, oil, butter or other fats.
  • Never add honey to baby’s foods, it can cause harmful spores which can make baby sick.
  • Once baby foods are mastered, offer cooked fruits and vegetables mashed with a fork.
  • Be sure to remove pits and seeds and cut into small pieces.
  • A good range is about ¼-1/2 cup of fruits and vegetables a day.

Protein

  • Offer strained, pureed, or finely chopped lean meat, poultry, and fish with all bones removed. 
  • Use plain, strained (pureed) meats when starting. If meat is too thick, mix this with breastmilk or formula. Avoid meat and vegetable combinations until each food in the mixture has been tried individually with no allergic reaction.
  • All babies will develop their own feeding pattern, but on average babies will eat 1-2 Tbsp daily.
  • Try cooked eggs or mashed beans and peas.
  • Limit use of fried meats, gravies, and sauces.
  • Avoid use of too many processed meats such as hot dogs, luncheon meats, bacon and sausage. They are very high in fat and salt content and can cause choking.
  • Hot dogs and luncheon meats should be heated to reduce the risk of listeriosis.

Dairy

  • No cow’s milk before 12 months of age. See section above on Cow’s Milk & Other Liquids.
  • Offer small pieces of cheese, cottage cheese and plain yogurt when eating other table foods.

Making Pureed Baby Food

Getting Ready

  • You will need a fine mesh strainer, baby food grinder, or blender/food processor.
  • Cleanliness is a must to keep baby’s food safe.
  • Before starting, wash your hands and items you will use in hot soapy water.
  • Rinse items in hot water.  Then air dry.

Making Baby Food

  1. Start with good food.  Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly. Peel and seed if needed.  Remove fat from meat.
  2. Cook food in small amount of water until tender. Save cooking liquid for thinning food.  You may also thin food with breast milk or formula.
  3. Prepare the food by pushing soft food through a strainer with the back of a spoon, using a grinder, or adding to a blender or grinder with enough food and liquid to cover blades.
  4. Use a small spoon to feed baby.  If baby does not finish the meal, throw away what is left in baby’s dish.
  5. You can make enough baby food for more than one meal. Refrigerate or freeze the extra food.

Plain Foods are Best for Baby

Ideas for Baby Food

Fruits

  • Apples, apricots, bananas, melon, peaches, pears, plums, prunes
  • Use ripe fresh fruit, cooked, frozen and thawed, or canned fruits

Vegetables

  • Wax or green beans, green peas, potatoes, squash, sweet potatoes
  • Steam fresh or frozen vegetables in a small amount of water for a short time until soft.
  • Ensure you offer a variety of vegetables. Spinach, beets, turnips, carrots, and collard greens are high in nitrates and should be offered in balance with low-nitrate foods.

Protein Foods

  • Lean beef or pork, chicken or turkey without skin, cooked beans/peas, cooked egg yolk, fish without bones and no shell-fish
  • Cook protein foods until well done.

Storing Baby Food

To Refrigerate

  • Put food in clean storage dish.
  • Cover it.
  • Store homemade baby food from meat, poultry, fish or eggs for up to 24 hours.
  • Store homemade baby food from fruits and vegetables for up to 48 hours.

To Freeze

  • Pour prepared baby food into clean ice cube tray or small storage dish. 
  • Cover with plastic wrap, lid, or aluminum foil.
  • Freeze until solid.
  • When frozen, remove food from storage dish and place in a plastic bag.  Seal tightly. Label and date the bag.
  • Keep in freezer no longer than one month.

To Use

  • Thaw a portion of baby food in the refrigerator or heat in microwave or in a saucepan on the stove.  
  • Test temperature before offering to baby to be sure that it is not too hot.
  • Thoroughly reheat refrigerated or frozen food to an internal temperature of 165 ºF. Use a good thermometer to ensure this temperature is reached.

Using Extra Jars of Baby Food

Baby food can be used to make healthy finger foods as your infant grows and tries new foods. Try these tips so your nutritious baby puree foods don’t go to waste.

Fruit

  • Add to jams and jellies or use the fruit puree as jam on bread or crackers. Either way you will get added nutrition.
  • Mix into plain yogurt for a natural sweetener. 
  • Use as a dipping sauce. They are great for dipping other types of fruit and snacks into. Serve with slices of fruit, fruit kebabs or cubes of angel food cake for a yummy treat! 
  • Add to pancake or muffin batters. Some good fruit choices include: apples, pumpkin, squash, pears and peaches. 
  • Replace fruit purée for fat in baked goods for a lower-fat version. To replace oil, substitute one for one. For example: 1 cup oil can be replaced with 1 cup apple purée. For butter or margarine replace with half as much fruit puree. For example: ½ cup of butter can be replaced with ¼ cup of fruit purée. Add more purée if dry.

Vegetables

  • Add tomatoes, zucchini, squash to soups, broths, stews and casseroles to add more nutrition and thickness. 
  • Add to plain cream cheese to spread on crackers.
  • Add to sauces such as pasta sauce and other cooking sauces to enhance flavor and nutrition. 
  • Try adding some green beans into your gravy, sweet potatoes into regular mashed potatoes, and zucchini into casseroles.
  • Use vegetable purees such as zucchini, squash, sweet potato and pumpkin in baked goods like zucchini bread, pumpkin muffins or brownies. Get creative – you’ll surprise yourself!

This post was last updated on November 7th, 2022 at 5:27 PM

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