Your pediatrician will provide guidelines for food introduction, including ways to protect against allergies and guard against choking. Many doctors advise beginning with a rice cereal and then slowly adding fruit and vegetable purees. Ask your doctor's recommendation for a brand of whole grain brown rice cereal for even better nutrition. Other suggest beginning with vegetables, fruits and meats.
Fruit purees are easy and quick to prepare. A banana can be mashed with a fork, and tastes so much better fresh than jarred -- which increases the chances that your child will grow up to like fresh banana in her cereal or her lunch box.
In addition to bananas, mangoes, papaya, and avocado may be mashed and eaten raw by themselves or in combinations. Fruits like apple, plum, pear, and berries (strawberries should be introduced later because of the risk of allergy) can be lightly steamed and then strained and mashed.
No special equipment is required for these early foods, although a hand ricer is cheap and indispensable.
For teething children, cut grained bread into interesting shapes with cookie-cutters. Bake until the bread is cracker-hard and then store in airtight container at room temperature. These make excellent snacks and are great for gnawing.
Once the baby is ready for so-called "Stage Two" foods, you can begin cooking meat and vegetable combinations and even start blending your own table foods for him to share in. The key, of course, is to keep the baby's food very low in sodium and to introduce other seasonings gradually.
Also, it's very convenient to make large batches of pureed foods, freeze them in ice cube trays, and then store the cubes in freezer bags for later use.
At one time during my daughter's infancy, we had six Ziploc bags in the freezer, filled with cubes broken down by vegetable, fruit and protein. "A cube of protein and one of vegetable for dinner," I would tell my sitter on my way to work, "and a cube of fruit for dessert."
The nutritional groundwork we lay in our babies will dictate the relationship they have with food for the rest of their lives. Homemade baby food is a cheap, easy way of helping our children stay healthy for a lifetime.