Everything you need to know about making stage 1 baby food, including 10 recipes for tasty purees that are perfect for introducing solids.
Introducing solids to your baby is such an exciting milestone but it can also be an overwhelming time with lots of questions. When is your baby ready for solids? Which foods should you start with? And how do you make homemade baby food?
I’m here to make sure you have all the information you need! Plus sharing 10 baby food purees to give you some ideas of where to start if you’ve decided to make your own baby food.
Most pediatricians recommend babies start solids between 4-6 months, but you know your baby best so trust your gut and do what feels right to you (with guidance from your pediatrician)!
I have a great guide for introducing solids to babies where I outline the basics and share my approach, but just to recap, here are some signs that your baby is ready to start enjoying solid food:
Once you’ve decided that your baby is ready to start solids, it’s go-time. There are different approaches to this including baby led weaning, where you skip purees all-together and let your baby feed themselves with finger foods from the start and traditional weaning, which starts with pureed (or blended) foods.
With Olivia I did a hybrid approach where the first few foods we introduced where purees and then we started with a few finger foods when she seemed ready. I go into more detail on this in my introducing solids post.
To be honest, if you’re planning to do baby led weaning this post probably won’t be that helpful because it’s focused on how to make a variety of single ingredient purees.
If you decide to use purees, you’ll quickly notice that baby food is labeled by three stages. Here is a breakdown of what these different stages mean:
Solid foods can be introduced in any order, but most pediatricians recommend starting with a single-ingredient food that is easy to digest like pureed sweet potato, carrot, banana and/or avocado. Other options include pureed meats, poultry, beans and iron-fortified baby cereals like rice cereal or oatmeal.
You just want to be sure the first few foods are pureed super smooth and almost a liquid consistency. You can easily thin purees with breastmilk or formula.
As baby gets more practice with eating you can reduce the amount of liquid and offer purees with a thicker texture.
When introducing foods it can be helpful to introduce only one food every three to five days so you can watch for any signs of allergic reactions. A reaction could show up almost immediately or a few days after so it’s recommend to introduce one food at a time when starting out so you can track what may be causing a reaction in your baby. Reactions include: hives or rashes, itching, shortness or breath or more serious reactions like vomiting or swelling of the lips and tongue.
It’s also helpful to be mindful about common allergens. Foods like diary, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy and shellfish should be introduced gradually after less allergenic foods have been tolerated. The previous recommendation was to wait on these foods, but that as since changed and in fact, delaying the introduction of these foods may increase the risk of a child developing allergies.
One food that is off limits until a baby is at least 1 year old is honey because of the risk of infantile botulism.
We covered when and what foods to start with. Now lets talk how to make a basic baby food puree! Don’t fret, it’s super easy. Here’s the basic process:
That’s it! You’ve just made a homemade baby food puree!
You really don’t need any fancy kitchen appliances, but there are a few tools that will come in handy when making homemade baby food.
Ready to get started making some stage 1 baby food purees? Here are 10 easy recipes to get you started. These are the purees I used in the early days with Olivia. She loved all of these, but there are a ton of other purees you can try including pear puree, apple puree (aka applesauce), bean purees (like chickpea or lentil puree) and even chicken puree.
Sweet potatoes are a powerhouse vegetable! They’re packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and babies love their sweet flavor.
Carrots are low on the allergy scale and easily digested by a tiny tummy. They are high in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that converts to vitamin A in the body, which is crucial for eye health and overall immune function.
Avocados are high in heart-healthy fats as well as fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants! They’re incredibly nutritious and super easy to prepare.
A great first food to introduce to babies, bananas are naturally soft and mushy, easy to digest and loaded with vitamins and minerals. The best part? You don’t need to cook them!
Peas are naturally sweet and pack a punch with nutrition, containing a variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They are also high in protein, with 4 grams per half-cup serving. Fun fact, peas are actually a legume!
Technically a fruit, butternut squash is packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Peaches are naturally sweet and perfect for introducing baby to solid foods. They are rich in many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, mango is especially high in vitamins A and C. They also contain a group of digestive enzymes called amylases which help little tummies just starting with solid foods.
Small but mighty! Blueberries are known as a superfood. Superfoods are usually plant-based and rich in nutrients that are beneficial to your health such as vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and fiber.
Strawberries pack quite a health punch! They are low calorie, taste delicious and are a great source of vitamins, minerals and plant compounds.
Freshly pureed baby food should be stored in the fridge and used within 3-4 days. For longer storage, I recommend freezing purees in an airtight container. I like using silicone ice cube tray or freezer safe jars because they make it easier to thaw smaller amounts for serving to babies.
I recommend thawing frozen purees in the fridge the night before you want to use them. In a pinch, you can also thaw it quickly with a warm water bath. It thaws quickly if you’re defrosting a small amount to serve to a baby.
Yes! Making large batches of purees and storing them in the refrigerator or freezer makes feeding baby homemade purees a breeze.
Freezing baby food that has been made with frozen fruit or vegetables is fine, as long as you have cooked the frozen foods first. Do not refreeze foods that have thawed without cooking. I recommend labeling baby food with the ingredient and date before you place them in the freezer.
If you are freezing baby food that has been mixed with fresh breast milk you’re fine! However, you should not freeze baby food that has been mixed with previously frozen breast milk. Once frozen breast milk has been thawed, it should never be re-frozen.
If you are using formula, it should be okay to freeze baby food that has been mixed with it. Most formula companies don’t recommend freezing formula, but you’re using such a small amount.
You can also freeze the baby food purees without adding any liquid. You can then thaw the baby food puree in the fridge overnight and then thin the food to the desired consistency with breast milk or formula right before serving.
This post about freezing baby food has a ton of great insight and tips.
I recommend using organic produce when possible, though I realize this isn’t always in the budget. Either way thoroughly rinsing your fruits and vegetables is an important step whether they’re organic or not.
This list of the dirty dozen fruits and vegetables from the EWG is a good guide if you can only budget for some but not all organic produce.
From a nutritional point of view, most doctors recommend waiting to introduce babies to cow’s milk until one year of age. If you need to thin your puree you can use breast milk, formula or plain water.
Stage 1 purees are very thin with no chunkiness and are single ingredients. Stage 2 baby foods can be more elaborate with food combinations as well as chunkier textures.
Be sure to check out all of the baby food recipes here on EBF.