Adding taste and texture when making your own baby food is simple
With thanks to Alice Fotheringham, nutritionist at Piccolo
Making your own baby food needn’t be complicated and it’s a great opportunity to introduce a wide variety of different tastes and textures into your baby’s diet.
In the early days, try not to worry about how much your baby eats, as her appetitie
is very small. I love batch cooking, as it makes it a bit less painful if the one portion you have spent time and love creating is rejected or ends up on the floor – you have plenty left for a later date!
Some simple tastes take just minutes to rustle up: mashed avocado, papaya or banana; a bit of scrambled egg. Most other foods need a bit of preparation, so it is always worth making more than
one meal’s worth. First taste purées can be mixed with a little breastmilk, puréed and then mixed to the consistency of a smooth yoghurt.
Tools for batch cooking baby food
- Freezer bags (ziplocs are the easiest) to store frozen cubes of purée
- Large silicone ice cube trays (ideally with lids, or use cling film to wrap instead.
Food Processor: From chopping and grating vegetables, to making hummus, cakes and baby food, a mini or specialist baby food processor is a long-term investment if you love being in the kitchen. Look for varying levels of motor strength, and a robust machine that should last you a long time. If you prefer to buy a standard size processor, a lot of mid-range brand such as Magimix or Kitchen Aid is usually great. Read reviews and ask around to find what might work best for you.
Hand Blender: these are amazing. They don’t cost much money, around £15 – £30. They last for years and are perfect for soups, purées and sauces. If you have a small kitchen and don’t want to spend a lot on making baby food, one of these will do the job. I would recommend buying one that comes with a handy tall plastic cup, which are perfect for blending a couple of portions of baby purée in.
Blender: These are great bits of kit for making purées, smoothies, hummus, dips and soups. Food gets blended more finely than with a hand blender. They can be expensive (it’s worth spending more on ones with a decent motor) but they do last, so if you are a keen cook, this is a good investment.
Steamer: Steaming retains more vitamins and nutrients in food than other cooking methods, so it’s definitely worth having for cooking vegetables; you can also steam other food such as couscous, salmon, chicken or fruit. Use a metal sieve over
a pan of boiling water if you don’t have a steamer, or pick up a relatively cheap metal or bamboo steaming basket that fits on most saucepans.
Baby food steamer and blenders: these are very clever pieces of kit and help you make smooth purées. When your baby is older, you can still use them for preparing spices, herbs and coulis. They are great for whipping up lots of vegetable and meat purées in your baby’s first few months
Importance of moving on to texture
It is important to remember that, once your baby has mastered enjoying smooth purées, she can move on to enjoying mashed and also finger foods from quite early on. It is possible to offer both purées and finger foods (as part of baby-led weaning) right from the start when you begin weaning from the age of six months. Weaning is a gradual, gentle process and you want to offer your baby a wide variety of textures. If you make food in a baby food processor, you are going to get a lovely smooth purée. These are fantastic for the first few weeks but when you want to move onto more textured food and then to finger food, do so; they may be rejected a few times but keep trying and your baby will get the hang of it. In the early days of offering finger foods, they will often just hold onto it for a while and that’s fine – sooner or later, everything ends up in your babys mouth!
Tips for moving on to mashed and finger food
- Instead of puréeing in a blender, mash it with a fork.
- While you are mashing the food, why not offer your baby a piece of the food to chew on. Giving her larger, fist- sized chunks of soft cooked vegetables, fruit or soft meats is a great way for her to practice pincer grip and hand-eye coordination.
- Avoid surprise lumps. This can be very off-putting for babies. Try to maintain consistency, or offer lumps, pasta pieces or chunks of cooked vegetable separately to the purée.
Three brilliant blenders
These clever gadgets make small but perfectly formed baby meals
BEABA Babycook Solo Limited Edition Aquamarine Blue £119.99
Reviewed by ’s Creative Director Ruth Ellis and her son Beau, seven months.
“This clever little machine has saved my sanity at times. It’s so quick and easy to use and a doddle to clean – even around the blade – and seems to make any combination of foods into a smooth mousse-like consistency in seconds. I was mainly buying baby food pouches for convenience before but now I have no excuse!”
Philips Avent Babyfood Steamer and Blender £99.99
Simply lift and flip the jar over once food is steamed to blend it, with no transfer of food required.
Babymoov Nutribaby Food Steamer and Blender £109.99
A neat unit with five useful functions: bottle warmer, steriliser, defroster, steamer and blender.