Monday, May 10, 2010

Purees, the First Foods

Stage two feeding is so exciting... it’s the introduction of real foods. Mushed up, watered down pureed foods, but cereals, fruits, and vegies just the same. Really, who isn’t totally psyched to run out and buy that first box of rice cereal and a couple teeny tiny jars of apples and sweet potatoes?

You don’t have to limit yourself to the baby food aisle though... you could make your own purees. It is easy and cheap. It is also healthier since the high heat processing in commercial baby food depletes the nutrient levels in those jarred foods. The best reason to make your own is because it tastes better and it tastes like real food... the real food your baby will be feeding herself in a few months.

A Few Guidelines
When introducing a new food, wait three to four days before introducing another. Having your baby eat the new food for three days will help you to figure out if your baby is going to react to it. Allergies will show up as a rash, hives, diarrhea, gas, congestion, or puffy, watery eyes.

Always cook vegies and fruits before you puree them, with the exception of bananas and avocados. Why? Because it makes the food easier for your baby to fully digest it.

What is a proper serving size for a baby? The first couple times you introduce a new food, do not give your baby more than two tablespoons per serving. Once you know your baby is not allergic to the food, you can feed her a serving somewhere between an 1/8 to a 1/4 cup, which is 2–4 tablespoons, or 1-2 ounces. However, if your baby turns away or acts disinterested, trust that she is done eating and do not push her to eat more. In this beginning phase of eating real food, it is more about exposure and practice rather than nutrition and calories. Your baby is still getting her nutritional and caloric needs met through nursing or bottle feeding.

To make some of these recipes it would be helpful to have a steamer basket and a food processor of some sort... a blender will work too.

5 Yummy First Purees
Baby Rice (15 servings, can freeze) B&T
1/4 cup white rice (short-grain like Basmati)
breastmilk or formula
Rinse the rice under cold water. Put it in a pan with just enough water to cover it. Bring it to a boil and stir it. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Puree the rice in a blender with the breast/formula milk until smooth.

Pear Puree (2-3 servings, can freeze) B&T
1 small, ripe pear
2 tbsp. water
Wash, peel, core and cut up the pear. Put the pear chunks in a pan with the water and bring to a boil. Cook for about 5 minutes until the pear is tender. Cool and then puree using a little of the cooking liquid.

Carrot Puree (1-2 servings, can freeze) B&T
1 small carrot
1-2 tbsp water
Wash, peel (or scrape) and slice the carrot. Steam the carrot for 10 minutes. Cool and then puree in a blender with a little of the cooking water.

First Applesauce (8-10 servings, can freeze) MM
3 Medium sized Golden Delicious apples (or other low acid mild apples)
water as needed
Wash, core and slice apples but leave the skin on during cooking. Place slices in a steamer basket and set in a pot of already boiling/steaming water. Cover tightly and steam for 10-12 minutes (add more water as necessary). When the apples pierce easily they are done. Set them aside to cool and save the cooking water. Scrape the skins off and puree the apples with a tablespoon of cooking liquid for each apple.

Avocado Puree (1-2 servings, doesn’t freeze so you can eat the extras ;-) B&T
1/2 small avocado
Peel the avocado and remove the pit. Scoop out the flesh and cut out any dark spots or hard spots. Mash until it is smooth and creamy. Serve right away.

5 Combo Purees
Pear, Apple, and Banana Combo (4 servings, doesn’t freeze) HB
2 tbsp. pear puree (see above)
2 tbsp. apple puree (see above)
1/2 small ripe banana, mashed
Mix all three ingredients together and serve immediately.

Broccoli and Pea Puree (2-3 servings, can freeze but is better fresh) B&T
3 broccoli florets
small handful of fresh or frozen peas
a little breastmilk or formula
Steam the broccoli for 7-10 minutes, adding the peas 1 or 3 minutes (depending on if they are fresh or frozen) before broccoli is done. Cool and then puree in the processor, adding a little bit of breast/formula milk to counter any possible bitterness from the broccoli.

Butternut Squash and Pear (4 Servings, can freeze) HB
1 medium butternut squash
1 ripe pear
Peel the squash, cut it and take out the seeds. Chop it up and steam the pieces for about 12 minutes. Peel, core, and chop the pear. Add it to the steamer pot and cook for 5 minutes longer, or until the squash is tender. Puree in the processor.

Mashed Banana Flambe (2 servings, doesn’t freeze) HB
1 tsp. butter
1small banana, peeled and sliced
a pinch of cinnamon
2 tbsp orange juice, fresh if available
Melt the butter in a small skillet. Stir in the sliced banana, sprinkle with cinnamon and saute for 2 minutes. Pour in the orange juice and cook 2 minutes longer. Mash with a fork and serve once it has cooled enough.

Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon (7 servings, can freeze) HB
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
pinch of cinnamon
3 tbsp breastmilk or formula
Put sweet potato chunks in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about a half hour or until tender. Drain and puree in processor with cinnamon and breast/formula milk until smooth.

Baby Cookbooks
These recipes come from a few of my favorite baby cookbooks. I can’t fully endorse any of these books because in each there are some suggestions that I personally don’t agree with for babies with Down syndrome or typical kids, but every one of them has an array of super recipes and food ideas for little ones.

Mommy Made, Home Cooking for a Healthy Baby & Toddler by Martha and David Kimmel (MM)

The Healthy Baby Meal Planner by Annabel Karmel (HB)

Wholesome Meals for Babies & Toddlers, Parragon Books (B&T)


  1. Love, love, love making baby food!!! Landon my first born never ate one jar of baby food and neither will Sutter! I'm actually getting ready to make my first batch this week. For me the easiest way to store it was to freeze it in ice cube trays, then remove the cubes from the trays and freeze in zip-lock bags. It is a great way to measure out each serving and easy to mix and match flavors.

  2. Thank you so much! Just in time for Kellan to start trying solids!

  3. Homemade baby food is so much nicer than the purchased varieties, especially when you branch out beyond the simple purees. Ravioli in a jar- blearghh!!
    Mashed potato makes another good carb, and lentils or chickpeas (garbanzo beans?) cooked with a little garlic are great sources of protein. Hommous (chickpea puree) can also be stirred into bland foods to add flavour Tuna is also great and can be mixed with lots of things. A friend swore by the bizarre-sounding mix of tuna, avocado and banana!
    I loved the thought that each new food I introduced was my babies' first taste of that food.


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