Moms share their baby food-making experiences

September 06, 2011|By AMY DULEBOHN |
  • Mango, apple and carrot puree can be served immediately to babies, or can be frozen in ice-cube trays and thawed before serving. The puree recipe appears below.
Courtesy of

Kate Booze is a self-described "fan of nutrition and fresh, wholesome food." An occupational therapist, wife, and mother, Booze applied her interest in healthful, natural eating to making baby food when her daughter, Anna Katherine, was born 3-1/2 years ago.

Like a growing number of parents, Booze of Marion, Pa., chose to make all of her daughter's baby food.

"I wanted to give (Anna Katherine) the best start. We talk a lot about eating the different colors of the rainbow," she said, as opposed to eating one type of food or only a small variety.

Booze says that making baby food is "pretty simple, and less expensive (than commercial products), and "I know what's in it."

As a reference, Booze used "The Complete Guide to Preparing Baby Foods at Home," by Sue Castle, (Garden City, New York Doubleday & Company Inc.).

The book detailed when to introduce different types of foods, for babies, from purees for the youngest infants to finger foods for older babies, Booze said.

Booze said she found the process helpful in that many of the purees could be spooned into ice cube trays and frozen for later use. While fixing dinner for herself and her husband, Charlie, she said she could set out the cubes a half-hour to an hour before dinner so they could be thawed and heated for her daughter.

"When I was preparing dinner for me and my husband, it was easy to just transition that into purees for her.

"(Anna Katherine) loved the food," Booze said.

In the meat category, Booze included pureed chicken, turkey and even liver, which she said her daughter liked at the time, but she no longer cares for.

She also included staple foods in her daughter's diet, such as carrots and apples, which could be blended together to make into a puree.

Booze received a regular box of produce from an organic farm share, so she incorporated the produce they acquired from the farm. "(I used) simple things like beans or peas. And some things you wouldn't expect, like pureed spinach. Anna Katherine really liked that," Booze said. Anna Katherine continues to eat healthfully, according to her mother.  

As for her healthful, natural approach to food, Booze credits her mother as her role model. Her mother also emphasized the basic food groups in her cooking, and made many healthful meals, seasoned with spices.

Booze herself says she doesn't used a lot of spices in her cooking, preferring to stick with fresh, all-natural ingredients. "The flavor (of fresh food) is just amazing," she said.

For Jessica Flory, a stay-at-home mother of two from McConnellsburg, Pa., the decision to make homemade baby food was fueled mostly by economics, as she compared the cost of a jar of pureed bananas to a bunch of fresh additive-free bananas. She also said she prefers to know what's in the food she and her family eat.

"I don't go crazy about what we eat but I'd rather start with something fresh," she said.

When she started her son, Ben, now 19 months, on solid foods, she said she used some recipes, but found that for the most part, she could make foods based on food she had on hand.

As a guide, though, Flory followed information found at, where recipes are found and information on when and how to introduce certain foods into a baby's diet are included.  

Flory said she used a food mill to start making purees for Ben, and then graduated to using a small chopper for preparing baby food. She liked using these apparatuses because "you could control the texture. Sometimes jarred baby food is too smooth." Babies should be exposed to foods with different textures as they develop their palates, she explained.

Flory said Ben ate healthfully and heartily while his mother made his food. He enjoyed foods such as avocado, a particular favorite, mango, and pluot, a hybrid of plums and apricots. She says that to her, making her own baby food was the right decision. Like Anna Katherine, Ben eats many of the same healthful foods, including cantaloupe.

Flory said that when the time comes, she plans to make food for her daughter, Kaya, born just seven weeks ago.

Safety first

Here are some guidelines for preparing homemade baby food.

 Harmful bacteria can grow rapidly if foods aren't properly cooled. Refrigerate or freeze perishable foods within 2 hours of purchasing or preparing them.

 Freeze ground meat, poultry, fish and shellfish if you don't expect to eat it within two days, and freeze other beef, veal, lamb or pork within 2 to 5 days.

 Some experts say immediately transferring hot foods to the freezer is not good because the hot food will affect the temperature of the foods around them and possibly the temperature of the whole freezer. Cooked food is recommended to be transferred to the refrigerator and then to package for freezer storage within 2 to 3 hours. Prepared foods may be stored safely in the refrigerator for a maximum of 72 hours.

 Salt and sugar are never needed when making baby food. Other spices such as cinnamon, garlic powder, pepper etc. may be introduced as early as 7 months with your pediatricians consent.

 Remember, always consult with your pediatrician regarding introducing solid foods to your baby and specifically discuss any foods that may pose allergy risks for your baby.

Mango, apple and carrot puree

1/2 cup baby carrots, chopped

1 cup mango, chopped

1 cup apple, peeled and chopped

Put carrots in a steamer pot over boiling water for 3 minutes. Add mango and apple and cook for 2 additional minutes or until everything is fork tender. Put in a food processor until smooth.

Cool and serve, or place in ice-cube trays and freeze. To serve, let ice cubes thaw.

 Makes 10 baby servings.

— Recipes courtesy of Catherine McCord at

Broccoli, potato and cheese puree

1 large potato, peeled and cubed

1 cup broccoli, chopped

2 tablespoons cheddar cheese (see cook's note)

Place the potato cubes in a steamer pot over boiling water and cook for 6 minutes. Add the broccoli and steam for an additional 4 minutes or until vegetables are fork tender. Place all the ingredients in a food processor, puree and serve.

Makes 6 baby servings.

Cook's note: Catherine McCord uses white cheddar cheese.

Mango banana puree

1 mango, cut in chunks

1 banana

Place the mango and banana chunks in a food processor, blend until smooth, and serve.

Or place in ice cube trays and freeze. To serve, thaw ice cubes.

Makes 8 baby servings.

The Herald-Mail Articles