How to Make Baby Food

By Tracey Seaman & Tanya Wenman Steel,

Once your pediatrician has given the go-ahead for solids-usually when baby reaches about six months-you can introduce your little loved one to the wonderful world of food.

Related: 5 Mistakes Parents Make When Feeding their Kids

Generally, bland cereal mixed with breast milk or formula is the only solid for a couple weeks (see our homemade baby cereal recipe, D is for Delicious Baby Cereal). Your doctor will no doubt advise to always start the meal, whether breakfast, lunch or dinner, with breast milk or formula, followed by cereal (usually barley, then rice, then oatmeal), followed by a veggie or fruit puree. One note: Just as you wouldn't give a ten-year-old a cupcake before her green beans, do not start baby with something sweet followed by savory. Always give savory items first and if baby is still hungry, a fruit puree is the follow-up.

Five Recipes for Baby Food
D is for Delicious Baby Cereal
F is for Fruit Purees
R is for Rich Rice Pudding
S is for Spinach
W is for Whole-Wheat Teething Biscuits

The First Solids: Six to Twelve Months

These are foods that baby can try. With the exception of the banana and avocados, all should be cooked (baked, boiled, or steamed) through.

Dairy: breast milk or formula
Grains: barley, rice, oats
Fruits: apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, prunes, pumpkin
Protein/Meat: chicken, turkey, tofu purees
Vegetables: acorn/butternut squash, green beans, peas, yellow squash, sweet potatoes, zucchini, potatoes

See also: Our Complete Back-to-School Guide

The I-Can-Feed-Myself Months: Twelve to Twenty-Four Months

All of the above foods plus:

Dairy: whole milk plain yogurt, cream cheese, cottage cheese, pasteurized unaged cheeses, ice cream
Grains: Cheerios, multi-grain no-salt crackers, graham crackers without honey, pasta, bagels
Fruits: blueberries, cantaloupe, kiwi, mangos, papaya
Protein/Meat: egg yolks, lean beef or pork, lentils
Vegetables: asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, spinach

The Not-So-Terrible Twos: Twenty-Four Months to Thirty-Six Months

All of the above foods, plus:

Dairy: low-fat milk, if desirable, any type of cheese as long as it's pasteurized
Grains: any, preferably whole or multigrain
Fruits: berries, cherries, oranges, lemon, grapes cut in quarters or halves
Protein/Meat: whole eggs, mild white fish (no tuna or other high-mercury fish), cut-up nuts
Vegetables: beets, corn, cucumbers

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Photos: Courtesy of Nicolette Barber

Editor's note: The preceding is reprinted from Real Food for Healthy Kids by Tracey Seaman and Tanya Wenman Steel, © 2008, reprinted by permission of William Morrow/An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. To browse inside the Real Food for Healthy Kids cookbook, click here.

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