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Home-made baby food is the perfect option for parents who want to know exactly what goes into their baby’s mouth. Mothers, chefs, dietitians and cookbook authors share baby food recipes and tips on how to serve wholesome, home-made food to your baby. Sacha van Niekerk reports.

Zelda Ackerman, registered dietitian and ADSA spokesperson, explains the benefits of making your own baby food: 

  • It tastes like mom’s food, the food your child will have to eat for at least 18 years. 
  • Home-cooked food boasts a variety of flavours, colours and textures. “Store bought food has a limited range that is available. When you make your own baby food, it can be presented separately on the plate, instead of in one mixture, so that your child can learn what each food looks, feels and tastes like separately.” 
  • Home-made baby food is coarser in texture. Food that is too smooth can hamper children’s oral motor development. “Textured foods promote good oral motor development which is important for your baby’s speech development. Babies that are still eating pureed food after their first birthday may develop speech problems.” 
  • Food can be given as it actually tastes. “Some store bought food have combinations like spinach and mango which does not taste like spinach at all. This hampers children’s ability to learn to eat the food.” 
Overnight Oats
One year+

Ackerman says: “From one year on we normally don’t talk about infants anymore. Your child can now start eating normal family food.” Ackerman’s recipe helps introduce textures to baby. It is low GI and, due to the chia seeds, high in omega-3 fatty acids needed for babies’ brain development. “No cooking is required which is also easy for busy moms. By adding different fruits, one can serve this a few times a week and it will taste different every time,” said Ackerman. 

50ml cup raw oats
150ml cup plain full cream yoghurt 
2 tbs chia seeds 
½ tsp Moir’s vanilla essence (optional) 

Mix all the ingredients together and leave overnight in fridge. Serve the next morning for breakfast mixed with fruit purée, fruit pieces or with fruit on the side.

Sweet potato, oats and apple pancakes
9-12 months

Recipe developer, food stylist and chef on Good Looking and Cooking YouTube channel, Claire Winstanley whipped up a gluten, dairy and egg-free recipe for your tot to enjoy.

Makes 24 small 

1 green apple, peeled & grated 
½ cup oats 
1 ½ cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed 
2 cups water 

Steam the sweet potato until soft. You can do so by bringing 2 cups of water in a pot to boil. Place the sweet potato into a metal sieve and place the sieve into the pot. Cover with a lid and steam for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the sweet potato pieces. While the sweet potato steams, blend the oats in a food processor until it resembles coarse flour. Add the steamed sweet potato to the food processor and pulse until combined. Remove from the food processor, add the grated apple and mix until combined. Allow the mixture to stand for 10 minutes for the oats to absorb some of the liquid. In a non-stick pan on lowmedium heat, cook small batches of the pancake batter. Note – the mixture will be quite thick. Once lightly golden, flip the pancake and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Be careful not to cook them for too long or with the heat too high to avoid any hardened edges that your baby might battle to eat. Perfect finger food for breakfast, lunch or dinner. 

Sweet potato butter mash
6-8 months 

TV chef, editor at Fresh Living magazine, content director, cook-book author and mother, Justine Drake, created a healthy veggie-packed meal for us. 

1 cup cubed, peeled butternut 
1 cup cubed, peeled sweet potato 
½ cup weak home-made chicken or veg stock 
Ice cube tray (for storage of leftovers) 

Place butternut, potato and stock in a small pot, cover and simmer until soft. Store and freeze leftovers in ice cube tray.