Homemade Baby Food – Fruit & Vegetable FAQs
1. Why do you have recipes to cook fruit?
Can I give my baby raw fruits? Many pediatric sources recommend cooking fruits until baby is about 8 months old. Bananas and avocado are an exception. For infants who start solids prior to 6 months old, cooking fruits is recommended. Cooking fruits breaks them down thus enabling easier digestion in an immature tummy.An older baby will be better able to handle the fibers and sugars of raw fruits than will the baby who is younger and just starting on solids.The “skins” of the fruits should always be peeled, especially prior to 8 months old. Infants who are fed fruits that have been pureed raw, with skin/peel on, may not have any issues with digesting those fruits. There are no immediate life threatening health risk to a baby fed raw fruits however, you may find baby has some digestion and tummy troubles. This should pass once the fruit itself has been passed.Depending on the doctor to whom you are speaking, this recommendation may vary with age. Some doctors may say cooking fruits is not necessary at all.
NOTE: Peeled raw & ripe fruits are perfectly fine in a baby safe feeder. Why? The amount of fruit that your baby will actually manage to eat from the Baby Safe Feeder is very small. There is a difference between spoon feeding a baby fruit and allowing a baby to suck on fruit from the Feeder.
2. Peeling Fruits & Veggies – Do I peel fruits & veggies for homemade baby food?
Please visit our Peeling Fruits & Veggies page to learn more
3. Fresh Frozen or Canned vegetables and fruits for baby food?
It is always best to use Fresh whenever possible and whenever fresh is truly fresh. Using Frozen foods is the second best choice. Caveat: read the labels as many frozen vegetables contain added salt and frozen fruits may contain syrups.
Why Not Canned Fruits and Vegetables for use in Homemade Baby Food Recipes? Canned vegetables and fruits for making homemade baby foods are not recommended for several reasons. Please read our Using Canned Food for Homemade Baby Food article to learn more.
4. Can I use Frozen Vegetables or Frozen Fruits in Homemade Baby Food Puree Form?
Yes – You can use frozen fruits and vegetables to make your homemade baby food recipes. Frozen fruits and vegetables for making homemade baby food may be a better alternative than fresh. Frozen fruits and veggies may be more fresh than fresh. Many sources and food authorities say that oftentimes frozen foods are more “fresh” than fresh. Were you to have the choice between a soft, bruised and less than Fresh acorn squash versus frozen squash to make homemade baby food, the choice for many people would be to purchase the Frozen squash.
Further, many fruits and vegetables that are seasonal may be unavailable as fresh and using their frozen counterparts is acceptable. There is some debate about using Frozen foods to make baby food. There are a few books that do not recommend using frozen foods and then re-freezing those veggies or fruits. The recommendation in those books advocate that only 100% fresh foods be used for homemade baby foods.
Oftentimes, those same books will recommend that only Organic foods should be used and that anything other than Organic and Fresh isn’t good and should be avoided entirely. This is untrue and sadly, often scares parents away from making their own baby food.
In a “perfect” situation, Organic and Fresh this is the BEST choice by far. However, there are many parents who do not and will not have economical or logistical access to only fresh fruits and vegetables (or Organic, locally farmed meats) than there are parents who do. In this instance, using frozen is far better than using canned.
5. Choosing Frozen Vegetables and Frozen Fruits for Homemade Baby Food
When choosing frozen veggies, look for those that contain no salt. If you cannot find any veggies that are salt-free, simply give the veggies a good rinsing prior to cooking them. When choosing frozen fruits, try to find those that are not frozen in syrups or other sugars.
There many fruits such as peaches, melons, avocado, blueberries and strawberries that are frozen “au natural” with citric or ascorbic acid being a possible additive. Frozen fruits should be cooked prior to pureeing and then freezing. You may wither steam or bake the fruits. If your baby is old enough to be served fruits that do not need to be cooked, take out the appropriate amount of fruits from the freezer bag, puree or mash and then store in the fridge for up to 72 hours.
ALWAYS ensure that you are not feeding baby directly from the bowl and then storing the bowl you fed from back in the fridge – take out the portion you will feed, put it into baby’s bowl and then put the bowl of food back into the fridge.
More about using Frozen Vegetables and Frozen Fruits for Homemade Baby Food
Do I cook the frozen fruits and veggies?
Frozen veggies/fruits are typically NOT cooked prior to freezing and packaging; hence why you have to cook and not just warm them. When you freeze purees that you have made from frozen veggies or fruits, you have cooked those veggies/fruits. Odds are that prior to freezing, those same foods have been picked at the peak of freshness and “flash” frozen for optimal taste and nutrient preservation.
It’s safe to freeze foods that have been frozen AND cooked
Refreezing foods that have been thawed but not cooked, is not safe nor is it recommended.
For example, if you thaw out a roast, you then cook it and freeze the leftovers for another meal – this is ok and safe. If you were to thaw that same roast and then change your mind and toss it back in the freezer without cooking it, this is bad and could pose a health risk.
Bacteria will grow at a variety of different temperatures – temps close to freezing and even right to the boiling point of water. Bacteria that grow best at the middle of these temp ranges are mesophiles; those that are human pathogens and opportunists.
Is there a loss of nutrients with freezing?
Truth is, more nutrients are lost in the cooking of foods than are lost in the freezing of foods. Remember, the frozen fruits/veggies that you purchase have not been precooked (unless otherwise indicated on the label – do not buy these types if you find them). When you cook the frozen vegetable, it is the first time that that vegetable has been cooked.
Read more at our Freezing Homemade Baby Food Page
6. Should I Only Use Organic Foods?
Organic foods are healthier than most conventionally grown foods. This is due to the lack of, or a significant reduction in, chemicals and pesticides that are in and on foods that are grown organically. Buying and preparing Organic foods for homemade baby food has great health advantages for those infants. Their tiny bodies are not exposed to the levels of pesticides that are found in conventional foods.Pound for pound, an infant consumes more pesticides due to body size. When serving “nitrate” vegetables, the levels of nitrates in Organics are significantly reduced though not 100 percent eradicated (Nitrates are naturally occurring and farming without using nitrogen fertilizers does not eliminate nitrate concentration).
Read More about Choosing Organics
7. How Long Can I Keep Fruit & Vegetable Baby Food Purees in the Refrigerator?
It is recommended that fresh pureed homemade baby food be stored no longer than 48 hours (many food safety authorities say that 72 hour is fine.) in the refrigerator. This limit ensures that bacteria growth in the puree is kept to a minimum and that the food does not take on the “taste of the fridge”. This “rule” applies for veggies, fruits, meats etc.
If you do not plan to freeze your homemade baby food, we would suggest that you make the puree on a day to day, or every other day, basis. For example, one sweet potato may be baked and then you may freeze one half without pureeing it and then puree the other half. This method will help cut down “waste” and also allow for food safety.
8. Breast Milk and Formula for Making Fruit & Vegetable Purees
You should not use Previously Frozen Breast Milk to thin purées that you will then be freezing into baby food cubes.
Breast Milk should never be re-frozen in any way or form. Using formula to thin and then freeze purées is acceptable.
Formula companies warn that you do not freeze Infant Formula due to a separation of the formula and not due to any health or nutritional risks. Keep in mind that the amount of formula used in purées is not equal to feeding an infant a bottle of formula.
“Freezing of any Enfamil formula is NOT recommended. Freezing infant formula can lead to physical property changes like fat separation, which may prove difficult for sensitive infants to digest. Freezing will not extend the expiration date of the formula.” “Freezing of our products may cause loss of desirable appearance and functionality (though not nutrition), and is not recommended.” Clinical Frequently Asked Questions, Storing Enfamil
You may wish to mash or puree your baby foods and freeze without thinning with any liquid. Should you decide to do this, you simply thaw the “un-thinned” food cubes and then thin the food cubes to the desired texture that your infant requires.
For more information, visit our Blog topic on using Formula in Baby Food Recipes
9. Best Cooking Methods for Fruit & Vegetable Purees
Baking, steaming or boiling in scant amounts of water is the best way to allow the vegetables to become soft while maintaining the nutrients. Use the leftover water to puree for optimal nutrient preservation. We prefer to bake fruits and veggies whenever possible as baking or roasting will enhance and bring out the flavor of the foods.
Be sure to cook frozen veggies as well, according to the package instructions and then puree as you would if you were using fresh veggies. When cooking vegetables that may contain nitrates, you might want to puree with water other than which the spinach/carrot/broccoli etc. was cooked in.
10. When do I Thin the Fruit & Vegetable Puree?
You may thin your purees either before or after freezing them. It really is an individual choice and is dependant on what you will be using as your liquid (previously frozen breast milk for example should never be re-frozen.), many parents find it easier to thin their purees and then freeze. When baby moves on to more texture, it may be easier to simply freeze the purees and then thin upon thawing if needed.
Read about Thinning and Thickening Homemade Baby Food
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