Making food for your little one
Making food for your baby may seem quite daunting at first. Don’t worry, it’s not. With the right kitchen equipment and a little know-how it’s both simple and satisfying.
It’s a good idea to begin early weaning with smooth purees made from baby rice, fruit or vegetables – perhaps apple and pear, or carrot and parsnip.
Making a fruit puree
Firstly, peel, and if needed, core your fruit. Then finely chop it. Next, heat gently in a pan with a tablespoon of water. When it’s soft, puree until nice and smooth with a blender, food processor or a sieve. Finally, simply add a teaspoon or two of your baby’s usual milk to get the consistency just right.
Making a vegetable puree
Peel and chop your vegetables. Next, cook until soft. You can steam, boil or microwave – whichever is easiest. When it is soft, puree until nice and smooth with a blender, food processor or a sieve. Once again, simply add a teaspoon or two of your baby’s usual milk to get the right consistency.
Time for lumps
When you think your little one is ready, why not introduce soft lumps to their food at mealtimes? Simply mash soft fruits, cooked vegetables, or pasta with a fork. You can always vary the texture – just add minced chicken or meat, fish or beans.
Easy, healthy ways to cook
The best way to keep all the delicious flavour and goodness of fresh fruit and vegetables is to steam them. It’s only too easy to overcook food and boil out all the goodness.
If you do boil your baby’s fruit and veg, it’s a good idea to use as little water as possible. Naturally, how long you boil food for depends on what you’re cooking. A good way to tell if food is ready is to use a knife – piercing to check to see how soft or hard your fruit or veg is. Then, just mix with some of your leftover boiled water to make the puree.
Baking is a fuss-free way to cook potatoes, sweet potatoes, apples, pears or butternut squash. Simply bake until soft, then scoop out the flesh and mash with some baby milk. Ideal for time-pressed mums.
Kitchen gadgets useful to have
A baby food grinder, or a mouli - basically, this is a hand-turned food mill. It’s great for pureeing foods like peas, chickpeas or dried apricots. It even gets rid of the skins.
An electric hand blender is ideal for pureeing small quantities of food, while a food processor is best for making larger quantities, which can be frozen.
If you are freezing batches of food, you’ll find food cube trays are brilliant. Or you could use ice cube trays. Simply cover before freezing. Mini freezer pots are also good for freezing larger amounts of food for older babies. All will help you save time and hassle.
Golden rules when preparing and storing your little one’s food
As a new mum, we appreciate there’s lots to remember when you’re getting food ready for your baby, or making batches of food to store. Which is always a great idea. Here are some top tips on what to do and what to avoid.
- If you’re using ready-made food, place the jar, can or pouch in a bowl of warm water to gently warm it through
- If you do use a microwave to heat your little one’s food, make sure you thoroughly stir it through to get rid of any ‘hot spots’ and test the temperature before feeding
- Use a clean spoon to place a small amount of food into your baby’s bowl
- Don’t add anything extra to your baby’s food, such as salt, sugar or honey
- Never keep uneaten food from your little one’s bowl. Saliva from your baby’s mouth will be in the food so it’s unsafe to keep
- Store freshly cooked, or uneaten baby food at the back of the fridge for up to 48 hours only, then throw it away
Freezing food for your baby – do’s and don’ts
Freezing food is a great way to make meal times easier. Just make sure you follow some basic rules when freezing and defrosting your little one’s favourite pureed dishes.
Once food has cooled down, freeze it as soon as you can. Your freezer should be -18°C (0°F) or below.
You’ll find it a good idea to clearly label food with contents and date – fruit and veg purees keep for up to eight weeks.
Make sure you always thoroughly thaw your baby’s food – either in the fridge, heating gentle in a pan or defrosting in the microwave. And always reheat food thoroughly, being sure to check its temperature. Little mouths are sensitive. If you use a microwave, stir your little one’s food to get rid of any nasty hot spots.
And remember, don’t refreeze meals that have already been frozen, or heat defrosted foods more than once.
If you’re freezing one of our delicious Heinz baby food meals, you’ll find all the information you need on the packaging itself. Or, if you prefer, have a read through the product section on our website.