Baby Food Adventures – Butternut Squash

Making baby food is so easy I feel silly even posting this. But, I felt intimidated at first and think a lot of moms feel the same so I thought it may help someone else if I share my experience. I’ve decided to make my own baby food for several reasons.

1. I don’t want the baby food to be older than the baby. I want my daughter to have fresh food not out of a jar that has been on a shelf longer than she has been alive.
2. I’ve heard it’s easy.
3. I’ve heard it’s cheaper.
4. I want to know exactly what ingredients she is getting.
5. I want her to be exposed to the same foods we eat so she transitions into adult food easily and gets used to the flavors we like. I want her to eat the same foods we eat so I do not have to make different meals for her.

We were thrown into starting baby food a lot earlier than anticipated. I had planned on waiting until the 6 month mark but my daughter suddenly stopped sleeping through the night waking up at 2 am at 5 months very hungry. This was after several months of her sleeping 10-12 hours a night every night. There are several signs you can look for like how much they weigh, how well the baby is holding their head up, and whether they are able to swallow to determine if your baby is ready for food but I recommend calling your doctor to make sure they agree before you start. I called her doctor and explained the situation and asked if I should start on food. They asked me a bunch of questions and ultimately they agreed she was ready. They recommended mixing 1 Tbsp of rice cereal with breast milk twice a day for about 3 weeks and then to slowly introduce other vegetables and fruit by adding 1 new item per week. We wanted to start with vegetables rather than fruit and to decide what to feed her after the rice cereal I used this chart. We started with rice cereal, added Carrots for a week, Sweet Potatoes the next week, and this week Butternut Squash. Butternut Squash seems to be the favorite so far but it could be her getting used to food after several weeks of trying new things. We give her about 1 Tbsp twice a day with a spoon but do not force anything. Sometimes she will take the spoon in her mouth and sometimes she will eat the food off of the spoon when it is placed in front of her lips. We never try to feed her food when she is really hungry because we think she will get too frustrated. Between meals when she is neither super hungry or full seems to be the best times.

To make your own baby food you really only need a blender and an oven to roast or a pot to steam the vegetables in. You do not need the tools I use. I like using my Secura Electric Pressure Cooker and NUK Baby Food Maker because they speed up the process and make cleanup super easy. My Nuk steamer and food maker is discontinued but there is a similar one by BEABA. I could have cut the butternut squash and steamed it in my baby food maker for this recipe but have you ever tried cutting a butternut squash before it is cooked? It is so much easier to cut and remove the skin after they have been cooked.

Here is how I made the Butternut Squash. Alternatively you can roast the whole squash in the oven.

1. Wash the squash
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2. Place the steam rack in the bottom of the pressure cooker and fill to top with water.

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3. Add the steam basket
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4. Place the whole butternut squash in basket
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5. Close pressure cooker and set pressure cooking time to 15 minutes.
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6. Make sure the dial is set to pressure.
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7. This is why I love the electric pressure cooker. After the time is up it stops itself and beeps to let you know it is done. If you are busy you can just forget about it. I turned mine to off and let it stand closed for about 15 minutes to let the pressure release naturally because I do not like all of the steam that comes out when you force release the pressure.
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8. Turn the dial to release to make sure all the pressure is released naturally. Open the lid and carefully remove the butternut squash with tongs. It is still very hot.
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9. Let the squash cool and remove the skin and seeds with a fork and a knife.
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10. The squash is very soft and ready to blend.
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11. Place in blender and blend until very smooth.
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12. Once it is done you can place in the fridge or store in the freezer. For the freezer method, you can first freeze in sanitized ice cube trays covered with plastic. Once frozen you can remove from trays and store cubes in ziplock bags. For detailed food safety storage guidelines read more here. We have been storing ours in the refrigerator and heat it up in the microwave to serve it at room temperature. We plan to use the freezer method but for now have been making more every couple of days.
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