Homemade baby food recipes

You might be wondering what to feed your baby when they’re ready to start trying solid foods, or maybe you’d like an alternative to shop-bought foods that you’re already using. What better time to try your hand at making your own baby food? Discover the benefits of homemade baby food and learn how to make baby food and store it safely. And if you’re ready to start cooking your baby’s first food, we’ve collected some easy baby food recipes for you to try.

Why Make Homemade Baby Food?

Although shop-bought baby food can be a convenient option – especially when you’re pushed for time or travelling with your baby – making your own baby food offers several benefits, such as:

  • Avoiding the preservatives and processing of some shop-bought baby food

  • Having control over the amount of salt and sugar in your homemade baby food

  • Being more eco-friendly – you can reuse your own food storage containers

  • Potentially saving some money

  • Introducing your baby to your family’s unique foods, flavours and eating habits. For example, if you’re making roast chicken with carrots for dinner, you can easily puree the chicken and/or the carrots to make some baby food for your little one.

Your Baby’s First Food: Baby Food Recipes for 6 to 8-Month-Olds

Check out these baby food recipes when it’s time for your baby’s first food. Once you’ve got a feel for it, you could also try coming up with some recipes of your own, taking care to avoid ingredients that aren’t suitable for your baby. Always take care to follow basic food safety guidelines when making food for your baby.

Sweet Potato Baby Food Recipe

  1. Preheat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius (Gas Mark 5). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Cut the sweet potato into half, lengthwise, and place it cut-side-down on your prepared baking sheet.

  3. Bake until soft and tender (about 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size).

  4. Scoop the baked sweet potato flesh out from the skin (discard the skin) and transfer the flesh to a food processor or use a blender or handheld mixer. Puree until smooth. Thin out the puree with a little water if needed. If your baby is ready for a coarser texture, you can even mash the sweet potato with a fork or potato masher. Cool to a safe temperature before serving. Bake additional sweet potatoes to be enjoyed by the entire family for dinner.

Roasted Butternut Squash Baby Food Puree

  1. Preheat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius (Gas Mark 5). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Carefully cut a butternut squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and discard them. Peel the tough skin with a vegetable peeler or paring knife.

  3. Cut the squash into cubes and spread them out on your prepared baking sheet.

  4. Roast until soft and tender (about 25 to 30 minutes), turning them halfway through the cooking time.

  5. In a food processor or blender (or using a hand blender), puree until smooth. You may need to use a little water to thin out the puree. Leave it a little lumpy if you’ve started introducing different textures to your baby. If your baby is ready for some chunky bits, you can even mash the butternut squash with a fork or potato masher. Any remaining squash can be enjoyed by the entire family for dinner.

Green Bean Baby Food Puree

  1. Set up a saucepan with a steaming insert, filled with just enough water to reach the insert. Bring the pot of water to a boil.

  2. Meanwhile, trim the ends of the green beans and destring them. Then cut them into lengths of 3 to 4 centimetres.

  3. Add the beans to the steaming insert over the pot of boiling water, and cover with a tight-fitting lid.

  4. Steam the beans until tender, about 8 to 12 minutes.

  5. Transfer the green beans to a food processor or blender, and puree until smooth. Thin with water if necessary. Leave it slightly chunky if you’ve started introducing textured food to your baby. Cool to a safe temperature before serving.

Tip

This baby food puree recipe works just as well with other vegetables. Mix up the flavours and make sure to include veggies that aren’t sweet, like broccoli, cauliflower or spinach.

Carrot Puree Baby Food Recipe

  1. Set up a saucepan with a steaming insert, filled with just enough water to reach the insert. Bring the pot of water to a boil.

  2. Meanwhile, peel the carrots and cut them into coins.

  3. Add the carrots to the pot of boiling water, and cover with a tight-fitting lid.

  4. Steam the carrots until tender, about 8 to 12 minutes. Steam for a few minutes longer if you plan to mash the carrots with a fork or potato masher.

  5. Transfer the carrots to the bowl of a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Thin with water if necessary. Leave it slightly chunky if your baby is ready for textured food. Cool to a safe temperature before serving.

Fruit Stew Baby Food Recipe

  1. Take one fruit or – once your baby has tried all the individual fruits – a combination of fruits (for example, apple, pear, apple and blueberry, apricot, peach and mango), peel, core/stone and cube them and cut into cubes.

  2. Add the fruit to a saucepan with just enough water to cover the bottom of the pot.

  3. Bring the fruit to a boil and reduce to a simmer, cooking until soft and tender.

  4. Mash the fruit with a fork or potato masher until smooth. Alternatively, puree in a food processor or blender.

  5. Cool to a safe temperature before serving.

Mashed homemade baby food

Mashed Potatoes

  1. Peel a couple of potatoes and cut them into cubes.

  2. Add the potatoes to a saucepan and cover with water.

  3. Bring the pot of potatoes to a boil, reduce the heat slightly, and continue to cook until tender.

  4. Drain the potatoes and return them to the saucepan. Mash with a potato masher until soft and fluffy. Add a little breastmilk or full-fat cows’ milk if the mash is too thick. Leave it a little chunky if your baby is ready to try a textured food. Do not puree the potatoes in a food processor or blender as the potatoes will take on a gluey texture.

  5. Cool to a safe temperature before serving.

Tip

For extra flavour and variety, dice a leek and boil it for 5 minutes or until soft, then add it to the potatoes before mashing for a delicious leek and potato puree.

Avocado and Banana Mash

  1. Chop up a ripe banana and a ripe avocado and place them in a mixing bowl.

  2. Use a hand blender or fork to mash them together until they have a smooth texture.

  3. Add a little full-fat yoghurt for a creamy taste (optional).

  4. If your baby likes finger food, serve with toast fingers for dipping.

Scrambled Egg

  1. Break one egg into a bowl and whisk it up.

  2. Stir in a tablespoon of milk.

  3. Heat a teaspoon of unsalted butter or vegetable oil spread in a non-stick pan.

  4. Add the whisked egg and cook on a low heat, stirring constantly.

  5. When the egg is cooked (but not yet stiff and rubbery), cool to a safe temperature and serve.

More Baby Food Recipe Ideas

Here are some other baby food recipe ideas to try at home:

  • Peas, cooked and mashed or pureed

  • Chicken that’s been well cooked, shredded or pureed

  • Meat that’s been well cooked, shredded or pureed

  • Fish with all the tiny bones removed, shredded or pureed

  • Lentils with the skins removed, cooked and pureed. (If you use tinned lentils, make sure they’re low in sodium.) To remove the skins, try passing the cooked or canned lentils through a sieve. The skins will stay behind in the sieve.

  • Beans with the skins removed, cooked and pureed. (If you use tinned beans, make sure they’re low in sodium.) To remove the skins, pass the cooked or canned beans through a sieve. The skins should remain in the sieve.

You might also like to try combining shop-bought foods with some homemade purees:

  • Plain, whole-fat, or whole-milk Greek yogurt mixed with some pureed plums or peaches

  • Infant cereals, mixed with water or breast milk and combined with apple stew or even a sweet vegetable like mashed sweet potatoes or pureed butternut squash.

Baby Food and Meal Ideas for 8 to 12-Month-Olds

You can use any of the above baby food recipes and ideas for your 8- to 12-month-old, but by this point you can start varying the textures. So, instead of pureeing the food, you could just whizz it briefly in the blender for a coarse texture or just mash it with a fork for extra chunkiness. As well as making baby food separately, you might like to try mashing or pureeing some of the food that the rest of the family is having and cooling it in a small bowl for your baby to try. It’s best to do this earlier in the cooking process, before you add any salt or strong seasoning to the food.

Here are some meal ideas you could try for your 8- to 12-month-old baby:

Meal Ideas for Babies

Foods and Ingredients to Avoid Feeding Your Baby

Making your own baby food is a great way of letting your child try a wide variety of flavours and textures from the very first moment you start introducing your baby to solid foods. However, some foods aren’t suitable for used in your baby food recipes. Here are some pointers on what foods and ingredients to avoid when making your baby’s first food.

Salty Foods

Salt is not good for little kidneys, so don’t add it to your baby’s food or the water that you use for boiling pasta, vegetables and other food. Stock cubes and ready-made or powdered gravy can also be high in salt, so it’s best to avoid them too. If you mash or cut up some of whatever your family is eating for your baby, separate your baby’s portion before adding salt and spices. Potentially salty foods include:

  • Sausages

  • Bacon

  • Crisps and crackers

  • Salted chips

  • Ready-to-eat meals

  • Takeaway or restaurant food

Sugary Food and Snacks

Babies don’t need sugar, as it contributes to tooth decay and potentially other long-term health issues. The sugar that occurs naturally in some produce like fruit, vegetables and milk is usually nothing to worry about, but sweets, cakes and sweetened food and drinks are best avoided. Even unsweetened fruit juices and smoothies contain ‘free sugars’ that can be unhealthy if your child consumes too much of them. For this reason, until the age of 5 years old, experts recommend that you dilute fruit juice (1 part juice to 10 parts water) and limit them to one 150ml glass a day at most, regardless of age. It’s best if your child drinks any fruit juice with a meal to lower the risk of tooth decay.

Foods That May Contain Bacteria or Toxins

Some foods aren’t suitable for young babies because they can contain germs or other toxic substances that could cause illness. They include:

  • Honey. Babies under the age of 1-year-old should not eat honey. This is because it may contain bacteria spores that your child’s digestive system (unlike that of an adult or older child) can’t process. These spores can produce toxins that cause a very serious illness called infant botulism. Even after your baby is 1 year old, honey should be used sparingly in food as it’s also a kind of sugar.

  • Raw or lightly cooked eggs. The exception to this rule is hens’ eggs marked with the ‘red lion’ mark, which are fine for your child to eat raw (for example as an ingredient in homemade mayonnaise) or lightly cooked. All other eggs may contain salmonella, which can cause food poisoning with symptoms like vomiting, diarrhoea and fever.

  • Certain cheeses. Babies and toddlers should avoid soft cheeses with mould on the outside (like brie or camembert), ripened goats’ milk cheese and soft, blue-veined cheeses like stilton. These sometimes contain a potentially harmful bacteria called listeria. You can still use these cheeses for cooking though, as heat kills the bacteria.

  • Unpasteurised dairy. All milk and dairy products that you give your baby or toddler should be pasteurised to eliminate harmful germs.

  • Rice drinks. Rice is usually OK for your baby to eat, but rice drinks are not suitable for children under 5 years old because they may contain a high level of arsenic. For this reason, don’t give your baby a rice drink as a substitute for breast milk, formula or cows’ milk.

  • Some seafood. Raw or lightly cooked shellfish like oysters, mussels and clams can sometimes cause food poisoning, so always cook seafood thoroughly before giving it to your baby or young child. Shark, swordfish and marlin should be avoided altogether as they can contain mercury, which could affect the development of your baby’s nervous system.

Foods With a High Choking Risk

Some foods and ingredients can easily cause choking because of the way they can become lodged in a baby’s small airway, blocking it.

  • Whole nuts and peanuts. Never give your baby whole nuts, as they pose a choking risk. Always give nuts in ground or flaked form.

  • Raisins and dried fruits. Whole dried fruits like raisins or prunes aren’t suitable for children at least until the age of 1 year old. Cut them into small pieces before giving them to your baby. Dried fruits also contain sugar, so to avoid tooth decay they’re better served with meals, not as a snack.

  • Peanut butter. Smooth nut butter like peanut butter can be used in cooking or as a spread, but not as a food to be eaten by itself.

  • Whole grapes, berries and cherry tomatoes. Always cut these into smaller pieces.

  • Bread. White bread can clump up into a doughy ball if it isn’t chewed properly, so try brown bread or toasted white bread instead. Always cut bread, toast, chapatis and other flatbreads into narrow strips.

  • Pips, stones, skin and bones. Be careful to remove all pips and stones from fruit. Removing the skin from fruit and vegetables (as well as sausages and hot dogs) can make them easier for young children and babies to swallow. It’s also important to remove all the bones from meat and fish, as well as any skin and fat, which could make it hard to swallow.

  • Anything round, firm or chunky. Cut meat, sausages, hot dogs and cheese into thin strips. Cheese and many kinds of vegetable, such as carrots, can also be grated. If your child is getting into finger foods, serve fruit slices and vegetable and/or cheese batons rather than cutting them up into chunks. Steaming or simmering firm fruit and vegetables or legumes is a great way of making them soft for a younger baby.

Other foods to avoid giving your baby because of the choking risk include:

  • Boiled sweets, chews, chewing gum

  • Popcorn

  • Raw jelly cubes

  • Ice cubes.

Cows’ Milk

Avoid giving your baby cows’ milk (and goat’s or sheep’s milk, even if pasteurised) to drink until the age of 1 year old – although it’s usually OK to add small amounts to food when cooking. When you do introduce cows’ milk as a drink to your baby’s diet, keep in mind that skimmed or 1% fat milk isn’t recommended under the age of 5 years old. Until then, give your child full-fat dairy products, which contain the fat and energy they need to grow. Dairy products are an important source of calcium and other nutrients. If your older child’s diet doesn’t include milk, ask your health visitor or doctor for advice on substitutes such as calcium-fortified soya or almond drinks.

In Summary

Avoid feeding your baby foods that can become a choking hazard, like spherically shaped foods or dry foods. Don’t give your baby foods that might contain potentially harmful bacteria, such as raw seafood or unpasteurised dairy products. Steer clear of foods with added salt or sugar. 

Food Allergies or Intolerances

When starting your baby on solid foods, there’s a chance your child may have an allergy or intolerance to a certain food. This is why it’s a good idea to introduce new foods one at a time, especially when it comes to ingredients that are known potential allergens. However, experts do not recommend avoiding certain foods just because they might cause an allergy. In some cases, for example peanuts and eggs, delaying the introduction of these foods may increase the risk of developing an allergy later. Be extra careful about introducing new foods if your baby already has a known allergy or has eczema, as these factors are also known to increase the risk of a reaction to certain foods.

Possible symptoms of an allergic reaction to food can include:

Common food allergens include:

  • Eggs

  • Soya

  • Fish

  • Shellfish

  • Ingredients with gluten in them (such as wheat, barley or rye)

  • Nuts and peanuts

  • Cow’s milk

  • Some fruit and vegetables.

Call 999 if your child

  • gets hives (a raised, itchy rash)

  • has difficulty breathing

  • has a swollen tongue or throat

  • seems dazed or confused

  • is unconscious or losing consciousness.

In Summary

There’s always a chance your baby may be allergic or intolerant to a certain food. As you introduce new foods, keep track of any reactions, like a rash, diarrhoea, watery eyes, sneezing, coughing and vomiting. Be extra vigilant if your baby already has an allergy or eczema, as this may indicate a higher risk of allergic reactions. Call 999 if your baby has trouble breathing, develops hives or a swollen tongue and/or throat.

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Practicing Food Safety at Home

When making homemade baby food, it’s important to follow food safety guidelines, especially since children under 5 years old are at a higher risk of contracting foodborne illnesses. Here are some food safety precautions to take when making baby food:

  • Wash your hands frequently, and always before preparing food and after handling raw meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, raw vegetables and eggs.

  • Keep raw meats, poultry, fish, and eggs separately from fruits and vegetables and other ready-to-eat foods. Store raw meat in the bottom of the fridge so they can’t drip onto other foods below.

  • Use separate cutting boards for meats and non-meats to avoid cross-contamination

  • Make sure that the homemade baby food is thoroughly cooked before allowing it to cool to a safe temperature for your child.

  • Keep all surfaces, chopping boards and kitchen utensils clean.

  • Keep pets away from food preparation areas.

  • Never give your baby food while they’re sitting on the potty.

  • Always supervise your baby while eating – leaving a baby alone with food carries a risk of choking.

Storing and Reheating Your Homemade Baby Food

When storing homemade baby food, it’s important to follow these guidelines:

  • Refrigerate prepared baby food promptly (preferably within 1 to 2 hours of making it)

  • Refrigerate rice within 1 hour of making it and eat it within 24 hours. Don’t reheat rice more than once.

  • Don’t store baby food in the fridge for longer than 48 hours.

  • Don’t store and reuse foods that your baby has half-eaten.

  • For longer storage, put the unused baby food into ice cube trays for freezing. Once frozen solid, transfer the cubes to re-sealable plastic bags and put them back in the freezer.

  • When it’s time to give the frozen baby food to your little one, thaw just the right number of portions by leaving them overnight in the fridge. Alternatively, use the defrost setting on your microwave.

  • Reheat baby food until it’s steaming hot all the way through, then let it cool to a safe temperature before giving it to your child. If you heat baby food in a microwave, stir it thoroughly (to eliminate hot and cold spots) and check the temperature carefully before use.

  • Don’t reheat food more than once.

In Summary

Babies are more susceptible to food poisoning caused by bacteria and other toxins that can be found in food, so following food safety guidelines – like separating raw meat and cooked foods, keeping utensils, surfaces and hands clean and discarding any baby food that’s been stored for too long – is especially important.

FAQS AT A GLANCE

  • When introducing solid foods to your baby, from around the age of 6 months old, it’s best to start with pureed or blended foods, then progress to mashed or lumpy food and finger foods.


    Introducing new foods and ingredients one at a time makes it easier to identify any food that causes an allergic reaction in your baby.

  • Yes, making your own baby food can work out cheaper than buying ready-made jars in the shop, especially if you make more than you need for each meal and freeze the rest for later.

  • Yes, scrambled eggs are a great way of introducing your baby to the taste and texture of egg. Use hens’ eggs with the red lion stamp (which are certified as low-risk for salmonella) or cook for a little longer to make sure any harmful bacteria are eliminated.

The Bottom Line

Making homemade baby food can be a rewarding experience for you and delicious for your baby – and it's easy to do with the recipes and guidelines here. Get out the blender or grab a fork and you're all set to have some fun as you prepare these first foods for your baby. Feeding your child homemade baby food, either exclusively or in addition to shop-bought varieties, can be a time of discovery for both you and your little one. It will introduce your baby to the foods and flavours of your family and help start getting into healthy eating habits right from the start. Bon appétit!

How We Wrote This Article
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the National Health Service (NHS). You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.