Not just for pies and spiced lattés, pumpkin is high in the antioxidant beta carotene. If parents don’t want to bother steaming it before puréeing it with peaches and cooked apple, they can always used packaged pumpkin as a shortcut.
3. Apple, Pear & Plum
A good source of vitamins C and A
, plums don’t necessarily have to be steamed before they’re puréed (as long as they’re ripe enough), but it’s a good idea to peel them first!
Another great source of vitamin A (as well as potassium and fiber), butternut squash has a mild, sweet flavor that babies tend to dig, and it mixes well with just about anything. Try roasting the squash and carrots before puréeing them. It gives them more flavor than steaming would
A bonafide superfood, beets are loaded with potentially cancer-fighting antioxidants, plus potassium and folate — and they make the (also super nutritious) mango and cauliflower such a pretty color! (PSA: Don’t freak out if the little one’s pee turns temporarily pink. It’s a beet thing!)
6. Strawberry, Peach & Blueberry
Like beets, berries are considered a serious superfood because they pack so many vitamins and antioxidants into such tiny, delicious packages (plus fiber!). And they couldn’t be easier to prepare: Just wash, trim, and toss in a blender. Peaches can be used raw if they’re ripe, but peel off the fuzz first.
One of the highest sources of vitamin A, sweet potatoes are also rich in B vitamins and carotenoids — and babies almost always gobble them right up (especially mixed with apple and parsnip!).
For those who don’t think of salmon as a baby food, think again: This fish is an excellent way to add omega-3 fatty acids to a little one’s diet. These healthy fats are super important for brain development. Plus, because it’s got a milder flavor than some other seafood, salmon blends appetizingly with favorites like sweet potato and apricot.
There’s a reason parents have been telling kids to finish their broccoli since the dawn of time: The veggie contains literally every vitamin we can think of, plus fiber, folate, zinc, selenium, and even calcium. Plus, when steamed and puréed with apples and pears, it barely even tastes like broccoli anymore!
Peas are an ideal finger food for veterans to solids, but they’re also perfect for the earlier, mushy meals stage, too. High in iron and phytonutrients, frozen or canned peas are perfectly acceptable substitutions for fresh ones, and they make a fabulous chunky (but not too chunky) entrée when mixed with sweet potato and tiny pasta.
11. Peach, Broccoli & Chicken
Here’s the thing about baby food purées: Sometimes a mix of foods that sounds totally bizarre can end up tasting great to little ones, and this is a perfect example. Peaches add vitamin C and a sweet tanginess, while chicken is high in easily digestible protein.
Not just for Thanksgiving, cranberries bring manganese and vitamin K to a baby’s table (and they’re great for maintaining urinary tract health, too). Unlike other berries, however, they definitely need to be cooked before eating, and they’re a bit too tart to serve without a sweeter fruit like pear — and a dash of cinnamon!
Popeye was on to something for sure, because spinach is all kinds of good for a kid (it’s got antioxidants, iron, fiber, vitamins … the works). Steam and blend it with with chicken and oatmeal for about as complete a meal as we can get: meat, veg, and grains!
For those who’ve never given much thought to cantaloupe (apart from the fact that it shows up in every fruit salad ever), maybe they should: Just one cup of the melon contains 100 percent of the daily recommended values of vitamins A and C for adults. Ripe cantaloupe mashes easily, too, and the nectarine and raspberries make this taste like summer in purée form.
What, carrot-flavored yogurt doesn’t sound good? Luckily, babies are free of preconceived notions that yogurt is supposed to taste like berries — so they’ll love the combo of protein- and calcium-filled whole milk yogurt and vibrantly colored vitamin-heavy carrots and squash.
16. Banana, Nectarine & Cherry
Okay, here’s the truth about giving a baby cherries: They’re mildly annoying to prepare (all those pits, ugh), but if parents can get past that part, there are lots of benefits: High in antioxidants (which give them their dark, red color), cherries also have potassium, fiber, and even iron. (When we mix them with nectarines and bananas, we don’t have to remove quite as many pits as we would if it was all cherry.)
Parents are gonna be spreading this crazy delicious mix of avocado, blueberry, and banana on their own toast after they try it. Avocado is super high in those all-important brain-building omega-3 fatty acids.
Speaking of avocado, this incredibly nutritious fruit (yup, it’s a fruit, not a vegetable) makes for a fabulously creamy delight when mixed with strawberry and banana.
Some doctors advise waiting until babies are 6 to 8 months old before introducing chickpeas. But when baby’s ready, they’re a good choice because the legumes are loaded with zinc, manganese, folate, and fiber. A squirt of lemon brightens up this purée (and adds vitamin C!)
20. Potato, Carrot & Apple
Think of this as a more nutritious, baby-friendlier version of mashed potatoes (without all the butter, cream, and salt that make mashed potatoes potentially problematic). Steam ’em all up together and blend!
21. Avocado, Banana & Kiwi
Oranges get all the glory, but kiwis actually contain five times the vitamin C, and they’re one of the few foods rich in vitamin B6 (which boosts the immune system). If baby can tolerate chunkier purées, Mom can even just mash these with a fork (but stick with a blender if chewing is still a challenge).
While some lentils require soaking overnight, red lentils are a great choice for babiesbecause they cook quickly (and digest easily). Plus they’re filled with protein, folate, iron, zinc, and manganese. And while pediatricians sometimes advise against giving tomatoes to babies under 10 months, they’re a highly nutritious addition at the right time thanks to their levels of lycopene and vitamin C.
Almost like a soup in purée form, the ingredients in this mix have just about every nutritional base covered — from fiber to protein to vitamins to iron.
24. Kefir, Blueberry & Raspberry
An excellent source of probiotics (which have been shown to help treat eczema and digestive problems, among other ailments), kefir is similar to yogurt, so naturally it works well with blueberries and raspberries!
25. Purple Sweet Potato, Banana & Apple
Purple food is hard to come by (well, naturally), but purple sweet potatoes have more in their favor than just their unique color. They’ve also got all the nutrition of a regular sweet potato, and they contain anthocyanins, which are believed to have anti-inflammatory properties.
26. Sweet Potato, Carrot & Banana
Three baby-food faves make a surprisingly harmonious trio. Sweet potato, carrot, and banana create a mix as vibrant in color (and taste) as they come.
Sure, quinoa is trendy — but it’s trendy for a reason. This ancient “grain” (which is actually a seed) is higher in protein and fiber than most grains, and it’s also high in iron and folate. Blend it with apple and carrot for a powerful breakfast bowl.
While some parents prefer to keep their baby’s veggies and fruits separate because they’re afraid their little ones won’t develop a taste for anything but sweet stuff, others find that mixing produce is an effective way to slowly introduce veggies to reluctant eaters. For those interested in trying it, this combo is sure to be a hit!
Can’t find any blueberries in season? Frozen ones can always be used in a pinch for purées (just thaw them first, or else it’ll become a smoothie consistency). Pears generally need a quick steam, unless parents get their hands on one that’s super ripe and juicy (yum!)
It might not have kale’s reputation when it comes to nutritional value, but don’t underestimate the humble zucchini: This form of squash is no slouch when it comes to vitamins A and C, as well as folate and potassium. For babies 7 months and up, feel free to leave the skins on when steaming and serving.
31. Zucchini, Apple & Peas
Zucchini and apple can sometimes have watery textures when puréed, but here, peas add texture. (Parents who want to go really crazy and add a fourth ingredient can try a tiny bit of mint, as pictured here.)
32. Peas, Banana & Asparagus
Parents might want to wait until baby hits the 10-month mark before introducing asparagus, as it has a tendency to make tummies a little gassy. But after that, it’s a good source of iron, calcium, and vitamin A.
Cinnamon does more than just make purees delicious — it’s also been shown to have antifungal and antibacterial properties, and to help regulate blood sugar. Add a sprinkle to this fall veggie purée!
Some say it’s best to start with frozen green beans for baby food because fresh ones have a grainer texture after being puréed; either way, these veggies have lots of vitamin A and fiber. And the banana and apple will help the beans go down!
35. Fig, Banana & Dragon Fruit
Who says baby food has to be boring? Dragon fruit (and even figs) might not always be available (or affordable), but there are lots of reasons to serve them if possible: Besides being high in vitamin C (like most fruits), dragon fruit also has calcium and lycopene; figs are high in potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, and copper.
An apple a day (turned into sauce) might just convince a kid to eat whatever’s mixed in with it — and that includes spinach. The addition of blueberries makes the greens even more appealing!
37. Quinoa, Carrot & Rosemary
An ideal way to expand baby’s taste buds, adding rosemary to this mixture will contribute more than just flavor: The herb is known to have antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antifungal and antiseptic properties (so basically, anti–everything bad).
38. Blueberry, Pear & Quinoa
Parents are definitely going to be tempted to steal a few bites of this purée, which is heartier than it might seem thanks to the quinoa.
Similar to bananas but not as sweet, plantains need to be cooked before eating (in this case, steamed) and have a similar nutritional profile to a potato, except with more vitamins and minerals.
This tropical treat is great for baby’s digestive tract, as vitamin C–rich papaya contains the enzyme papain, which aids in digestion. If it’s ripe enough, all parents need to do is mash it up with a fork (same goes for the mango and banana, but be careful about getting the stringy bits out of the mango!).
Whether parents grind their own flaxseeds or sprinkle pre-ground flax meal into baby’s cereal, the nutritional pros are major: essential fatty acids, fiber, magnesium, B vitamins, and much more. (Plus it tends to just disappear into the texture of the oatmeal!)
Fun fact: Peaches and nectarines are apparently the same fruit, except for the fuzz thing (at least nutritionally speaking). If they’re out of season, steam up the frozen kind (baby will never know the difference).
44. Acorn Squash, Apple & Spinach
Very close nutritionally to butternut squash, acorn squash is slightly more watery in texture and a little less sweet, but it’s got the same pleasant, mild quality babies seem to like.
Basically a cross between an island-inspired smoothie and a bowl of pudding, this baby food blend is loaded with both vitamins and healthy fats … and parents are going to want it all for themselves.
Kale is the most super of all the superfoods, with more calcium per weight than cow’s milk and high amounts of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as magnesium, folate, and more. Wait until baby is around 7 or 8 months to try it for the first time, and choose organic kale if possible, carefully washing before steaming.
47. Mango, Quinoa & Prune
There will likely come a time in baby’s life when prunes are a thing that need to happen (especially because constipation is a common occurrence after the introduction of solid food). Luckily, prune purée is easy to make and mixes well with other stuff, like mango and quinoa — and it’s also high in iron, potassium, and vitamin K.
It’s like all the best parts of Thanksgiving dinner in one purée (without all the bad stuff, like saturated fat and refined sugar). Even better, baby will love it all year round.
Sort of like tiny peaches with a little tanginess, apricots are way more nutrient-dense for their size than one might think: Just three of them contain about 30 percent of the USRDA for vitamin A, and they’re high in vitamin C and lycopene, too.
Interesting thing about coconut: The FDA classifies it as a tree nut, but it’s actually a fruit in the cherry family — meaning if a child is allergic to nuts, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be allergic to coconut. (Of course, there’s always a chance of allergy to anything, so always talk to the doctor about any concerns.) Assuming baby’s in the clear, coconut milk is high in niacin, iron, and copper (though it shouldn’t be used as a replacement for breast milk or formula). Chia seeds, meanwhile, are high in protein, fiber, and omega-3s (and unlike flaxseeds, they can be consumed whole and are easily digested).