Baby food basics

Essential information to rememberRemember that your baby will learn quite quickly to eat foods of varied textures. There’s no need to stock up on large quantities of baby food!

This section features all the information you need to prepare homemade baby purées and purchase commercial baby food. It also provides instructions on warming and storing baby food.

Homemade baby food

Homemade baby food provides excellent nutritional value. It is fresher, more varied, better tasting, and less expensive than commercial baby food. What’s more, it has the advantage of containing only the ingredients you choose.

Purchasing foods

Select the freshest fruits and vegetables possible. If using frozen products, make sure they don’t contain any salt, sugar, or seasoning. Buy lean meat whenever possible.

Canned vegetables, meat, and fish are not good choices if they contain salt. You can use canned fruit, however, if it’s packed in fruit juice with no added sugar.

Hygiene

Wash your hands and clean your cooking utensils and work area carefully before you start preparing baby food, as well as each time you change foods.

Photo: Sarah Witty

Photo: Amélie Bourret

Photo: Sarah Witty

Essential information to rememberPreparing fruit and vegetable purées

Preparing fruit and vegetable purées is easy.

  • Wash all fruits and vegetables before cooking.
  • If necessary, remove peels, cores, pits, and seeds.
  • Cut the fruits and vegetables into pieces.
  • If necessary, steam the food item (in a vegetable steamer, for example) or cook in a microwave.
  • Check if it is done. You should be able to stick a fork into it easily.
  • Purée the food using a fork, blender or food processor. You can add liquid to obtain the desired texture, e.g., fresh water or cooking water (see Nitrates in vegetables).

It is not necessary to add salt or sugar..

 

Preparing meat and poultry purées

Take certain precautions when cooking meat or poultry for your child.

  • Remove skin from poultry and any visible fat from meat.
  • Cut meat or poultry into pieces.
  • Cook in plenty of water. Meat is cooked enough when you can easily cut it with a fork.
  • Remove bones.
  • Put the meat or poultry in a blender.
  • Purée, adding enough cooking liquid to obtain the desired texture.

Don’t add salt or other seasoning during or after cooking.

Preparing fish purées

Certain precautions should also be taken when preparing fish purées:

  • Cook fish in water on the stove or in the microwave, without adding any salt.
  • Carefully remove any bones.
  • Break up the fish with a fork or purée it with the cooking liquid.

Freezing your homemade baby food

If you want to make purées in advance, it’s best to freeze them immediately after preparation. To do so:

  • Pour the purée into ice cube trays while it is still warm.
  • Cover and cool in the refrigerator.
  • Put the ice cube trays in the freezer for 8 to 12 hours.
  • Transfer the frozen purée cubes to a freezer bag.
  • Remove the air from the bag.
  • Write the name of the food and the cooking date on the bag and then put it in the freezer.

To find out how long you can keep purées, see Storing baby food.

Commercial baby food

Whether jarred or frozen, commercial baby food has good nutritional value. It’s very practical since it’s always ready to eat, but it costs more than homemade baby food. Some commercial baby food contains unnecessary ingredients like starch, sugar, flour, tapioca, or cream that decrease the nutritional value. Read the list of ingredients on the packaging to choose products without unnecessary additions.

Purchasing commercial baby food

Vegetable-meat combinations – These can be handy on occasion, but don’t contain very much meat. Frozen products generally contain more meat than jarred ones. If you choose meat-only purées, it will be easier for you to estimate how much meat your child eats and serve the vegetables of your choice.

“Junior” purées – These purées contain small pieces of food designed to facilitate the transition from baby food to regular food that the family eats. However, they are of limited benefit because you can achieve the same results by mashing foods with a fork.

There are also ready-to-eat meals. These products contain salt and should not be given to children under 12 months old. After this age, your child can simply start sharing meals with the family.

Handling commercial baby food

Here are a few steps to take in order to eliminate the risk of food poisoning:

  • Throw out or return any jars that have rusted lids or chipped glass, or do not make a popping noise when you open them.
  • Store unopened jars according to the best-before date and use the jars with the closest date first.
  • Put only as much food as you will use in a small bowl and refrigerate the rest immediately.

Commercial baby food can be frozen for the period indicated in the Storing baby food table.

Information to which you should pay special attentionMicrowave precautions

Microwaves do not heat food evenly. That’s why it is important to take certain precautions:

  • Warm the baby food in a small, microwave-safe dish.
  • Stir it well once it is warm.
  • Wait around 30 seconds. Before serving the purée, check the temperature using the back of your hand or the inside of your wrist.

Essential information to rememberMake sure family members and babysitters fully understand how to warm baby food.

Photo: Pascale Turcotte

Warming baby food

Whenever possible, warm only as much baby food as you will need. Before feeding your child, always check the temperature using the inside of your wrist or the back of your hand. To limit the risk of contamination, throw out any leftover baby food.

To warm fresh or refrigerated baby food, use one of the following three methods:

  • Put the purée on the stovetop in a small saucepan or double boiler and warm over low heat.
  • Put a small amount of food in a glass bowl and let it warm slowly in hot water for a few minutes.
  • Put the food on a small plate and heat it in the microwave. Carefully read the section on microwave precautions.

Storing baby food

Homemade and commercial baby food can be stored according to the storage life indicated in the table below:

Type of food Refrigerator Freezer

Vegetables and fruit

2 to 3 days

2 to 3 months

Meat, poultry, fish

1 to 2 days

1 to 2 months

Meat with vegetables

1 to 2 days

1 to 2 months

Note: Do not refreeze thawed food.