How to make homemade solid foods

How do I make solids for my baby?

Caregivers who are making their baby’s solid foods should ensure these are prepared safely and use healthy ingredients. Caregivers should avoid added salt and sugar and avoid using processed foods that may contain these and have low amounts of fibre, protein, and vitamins. It’s easiest to give the baby the same food that the rest of the family eats, including flavourful or spicy foods, especially if they are part of the family’s regular diet. Giving the baby a wide range of foods is more likely to provide a balanced diet. Caregivers should pay attention to consistency as well. Some babies like softer foods and others like more substance. Most organizations recommend starting with pureed food and working toward more textured food and then lumpy food by at least 9 to 10 months. Solid foods should pose no risk of choking. Babies should be supervised when eating.

A) Describing homemade solid foods

A baby’s solid foods can be homemade or commercially prepared; the former has many benefits.

B) Considerations when making homemade solid foods

When making solid foods at home for your baby, here are some things to consider:

  • The contents of the solid food:
    • Avoid added salt and sugar.
    • Avoid using processed ingredients that may contain excess salt and sugar and low amounts of fibre, protein, and vitamins.
    • Avoid foods that pose a risk to the baby by being a choking risk, unhealthy, or unsafe.
  • Food safety:
    • Make sure the solid food is safely prepared and stored.
  • Consistency:
    • Some babies like softer foods and others like more substance. The consistency should be acceptable to the baby, not too hard or dry.
    • Avoid giving the baby foods that pose a choking risk.

C) The range of solid foods

It is easiest to give your baby the same food that the rest of the family eats. Exposing the baby to a wide range of foods is also more likely to provide a balanced diet and encourage the baby to accept many different foods.

Don’t be afraid to give your baby flavourful or spicy foods, especially if they are a regular part of your diet. Breast milk is flavoured by the foods in the mother’s diet, so babies are used to the taste of these foods. Breastfed babies have been shown to accept a larger number of healthy foods compared with babies fed infant formula. Babies sometimes even refuse bland foods, especially when they can see and smell something more interesting.

D) Consistency of solid foods

Solid foods have four consistencies:

  • Pureed (with a blender or food processor)
  • Textured (from using a food mill or a food processor)
  • Lumpy (fork mashed or soft finger-foods)
  • Unrestricted, adult-type

Most organizations recommend starting with purees and working toward textured, lumpy, and soft finger-foods and eventually adult-type and self-feeding. If you start your baby on pureed foods, move to textured foods as soon as the baby can manage them. Some babies refuse pureed foods altogether. Just follow the baby’s lead.

Lumpy foods should be offered by at least 9 to 10 months. Delaying them past this time increases the risk offeeding difficulties later on (Coulthard 2009; Northstone 2001).

Always supervise when your baby is eating. 

E) Food mills (grinders)

A food mill.

Many families don’t know about food mills. Also known as a food grinder, it is a useful tool used to make homemade solid foods that have a textured quality. You can grind food you have specially prepared for the baby or more easily, use the same food you eat.

The food mill is efficient, since it:

  • Is quick and easy to use.
  • Allows the food to stay warm.
  • Doesn’t require electricity.
  • Washes easily with no sharp blade to clean.
  • Is easy to carry away from home.

A food milk is effective as it:

  • Gives the food a consistency that allows babies to feed themselves.
  • Makes food that often tastes better than food prepared in a blender.

References

Coulthard H, Harris G, Emmett P. Delayed introduction of lumpy foods to children during the complementary feeding period affects child's food acceptance and feeding at 7 years of age. Mat Child Nutr 2009; 5:75–85
 
Northstone K, Emmett P, Nethersole F; ALSPAC Study Team. Avon Longitudinal Study of Pregnancy and Childhood. The effect of age of introduction to lumpy solids on foods eaten and reported feeding difficulties at 6 and 15 months. J Hum Nutr Diet 2001; 14:43–54