Homemade Baby Food - 3 Quick Recipes
Once your baby is ready for solids, at around four to six months, mealtime becomes an adventure. Baby learns new flavors, textures, and eating skills, while you figure out -- through trial and error -- how to satisfy his or her appetite. Preparing and serving homemade baby foods is a great way to help your infant develop a preference for wholesome foods, says food and child nutrition expert Annabel Karmel, author of the cookbook First Meals (DK Publishing, 1999).

"Foods like ripe, mashed bananas, avocados, and papayas make fantastic and instant baby food," says Karmel, a trained Cordon Bleu cook whose feeding experiences with her three children ignited her interest (and career) in cooking and nutrition for babies and children. "Preparing homemade baby food isn't time consuming or complicated," she assures.

Below, Karmel shares three of her favorite baby food recipes, specifying the ideal age at which to introduce them. All of the foods can be frozen for later use. Simply freeze unused portions in ice cube trays and then transfer frozen cubes to freezer bags. Frozen portions will keep for three months; simply reheat individual cubes as needed. Before getting started, you'll need the following cooking gear:
  • Steamer
  • Electric blender (for simple purees, a hand-held blender will suffice)
  • Metal mesh strainer (to eliminate indigestible bits of food)
  • Ice cube trays
  • Freezer bags and a marker (to record the date when food is made)

4 - 6 to Months

Karmel recommends introducing root vegetables before fruits, which babies tend to prefer more.

First Vegetable Puree

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients: 1/2 lb carrots (or any other root vegetable: butternut squash, sweet potato, or parsnip)

  • Chop the carrots into small pieces. Place in a steamer over boiling water and cook for 15 minutes (until tender).
  • Blend the carrots using a little of the steamed water from the pot to make a puree. Serve lukewarm.

Makes 8 portions.

NOTE: Use the same process to make apple (10 minutes to steam) or pear (5 minutes to steam) puree.

6 - 8 Months

Introduce lumpier textures so baby learns to chew.

Tomato and Cauliflower Gratin

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 20 minutes

  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 lb tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese


  • Place the cauliflower florets in a steamer and cook for about 12 minutes.
  • Simultaneously, melt the butter in a pan under medium heat, add the tomatoes and sauté until mushy. Remove from heat and add the cheese, stirring
  • Mix the cauliflower with the tomato and cheese, then blend to desired consistency.

  • Makes 4 portions.

    9 - 12 Months

    Combine baby's favorite foods with new foods to introduce different tastes and textures.

    Baby's Bolognese

    Preparation Time: 10 minutes

    Cooking Time: 35 minutes

    • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
    • 2 tbsp finely chopped onion
    • 1 tbsp finely chopped celery
    • 2 tbsp grated carrots
    • 1/4 lb ground lean beef
    • 1/2 tsp tomato paste
    • 2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
    • 1/3 cup unsalted chicken stock
    • 1 oz spaghetti


    Heat the oil in a pan, add the onion and celery, and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add the carrots and cook for 2 minutes.

    Add the ground beef and stir until browned. Stir in the tomato paste, tomatoes, and stock. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the meat is cooked through.

    Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil, add the spaghetti, and cook until soft (about 10 minutes). Drain and chop into small pieces. Transfer the bolognese sauce to a blender and puree well until it's uniform in texture before combining it with the pasta.

    Makes 6 portions.

    Note: Only the sauce is suitable for freezing.

    Read More: How to Make Healthy Baby Food: A Conversation with Annabel Karmel (includes 3 more recipes!)

    M.E. Vier is a freelance writer, editor, and an aspiring culinary artisan.

    The content on these pages is provided as general information only and should not be substituted for the advice of your physician.

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