Baby, Recipe

first carrots

I had my doubts about carrots. It doesn’t matter that I like all formats of carrot, gleefully pickling them, shredding them, roasting them and even puréeing them into salad dressing, I failed to see how carrot mush could be appetizing for a 7-month old. Perhaps I underestimated his taste buds. Then again, this is a 7-month old who likes to lick (lick! aah! way to send an otherwise calm mama into a Purell-dousing frenzy) the chain on the swings at New York City public parks, perhaps I actually overestimated them.


Still, it took me a couple tries to get it right. Thinking we’d start solids earlier than we did, I steamed a batch a few months ago. And steamed them. And steamed them some more. Did I mention the steaming? It took forever. They never got very soft. Cranked (and cranked and cranked) through a food mill on the finest setting, they never got silky smooth. This was not a promising start. Next, I bought carrots from the Greenmarket that were kinda duds, somewhat bitter and flat-tasting. Finally, I bought a bundle of organic carrots with the green tops on from Whole Foods and simmered them with water. (I warned you these early recipes might cause yawns, didn’t I?) They were sweet, they cooked up “like butta”, puréed into the most velvety smooth sauce and seriously, seriously, the baby went apey over them. He tried to eat the spoon.

spoon eater carrot face

First Carrots

1 pound bundle of carrots (I found that the slim ones with the greens still attached were the sweetest)
1 cup water

Trim and peel carrots, then cut them into 1-inch segments. Put them in a medium saucepan with the water or broth. Bring to boil, reduce to a simmer, cover the pot and cook for 25 minutes (this will take longer if your carrots are thicker). Let cool in cooking liquid. Purée in a food processor, blender or food mill and freeze in small portions.

Read more here about the way I approach the processing and storing of homemade baby food.

Ideas for future carrot purées: Swap the water for a sodium-free broth, add a teaspoon or two of minced dill or a pinch of cumin and/or coriander.

Carrot tip: This is probably not revolutionary to anyone else, by any means, but I went most of my life mourning carrots that had become bendy and dry in the fridge, thinking they’d reached the end of their carrot lifespan prematurely. It blew my carrot-loving mind to learn than they could be “refreshed”, their snap and sometimes sweetness restored, by either storing them in cold water in the fridge, or soaking them in cold water for a while before using them, if they’ve been stored dry. I cannot tell you how many bundles of carrots I’ve saved since with this rescue mission.

39 comments on first carrots

    1. deb

      I actually try everything. With every serving (to make sure it didn’t go south) and when I’m cooking it. If it doesn’t taste good to me, I can’t imagine how it would taste good to him!

  1. Alison

    My little one loves her homemade carrots, or rather, loved. When we went for her 9 month checkup, her doctor said that we shouldn’t feed her homemade carrots because of the nitrates. I’ve read different things about nitrates in carrots. Any thoughts about this?

  2. Have you tried roasting them?
    I know for me, roasting gives the carrots such a nice flavor.
    I wonder how soft they would get and how that would do as a puree.
    My son is 5 months old and we are just starting him on food. So we will be ready for carrots soon.
    I may try roasting and see how they turn out.
    In the meantime, I definitely will try this version.
    Love the new site.

  3. Alyssa

    Carrots were one of my son’s faves, and I agree with Jill, try roasting them. Once Nate (my little guy) was old enough for finger foods, I began to roast carrots with a little olive oil, salt/ pepper and either maple syrup or agave nectar – he devours them like candy! Jill I have roasted all sorts of things for my son (when he was an infant, will have to amp up again soon for the new little guy!)… sweet potatoes, carrots, apples, even bananas (taste particularly delicious mixed with sweet potatoes). Enjoy your food making adventures, it’s so fun!

  4. Robyn

    Ellen LOVES carrots, along with every other orange vegetable. Squash, sweet potatoes, etc. Love the cumin idea, I will try that tonight and report back.

  5. Tracie

    Thank you so much for adding recipes for babies! I just had a little boy 2 months ago and I’m excited to try these down the road.

  6. Terri

    Why did you peel them? I used the crockpot vs boiling, same effect, less work. Is there a lower sodium broth you were planning on using? You don’t want to feed infants salt, they will develop a desire for it.

    I also found that if you go way to the end of the produce, they have carrots for juicing, they are sweeter, but sell in a much higher quantity. Start with a small batch first, or you will have lots of puree food you will not be able to use. There is no reintroduction of greenbeans for my son. I swear he can smell them in other foods.

    I do love that you are doing this, second baby is 5 months away from trying your recipes, you should have a nice collection by then.

  7. Charlotte

    Carrots! I remember when my little guy (he’s 4) was Jacob’s age. He loved carrots – thankfully he’s back to loving them again. I thought at one point he was going to turn orange as he loved all orange food – carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, mango, peaches, apricots. Bendy carrots – I heard that if you leave the green tops on the carrots the greens suck up the residual water in the carrots causing the bendyness. Cut the tops off before storing them and they don’t go bendy so quickly. Have fun with all the new foods for Jacob.
    PS I made a batch of strawberry applesauce (inspired by you!) last week and my son wouldn’t touch it. My hubby however is lapping it up! (

  8. glschneider

    The nitrates in carrots will collect in the steaming liquid so this is one case where the steaming liquid should not be added back to the veg to thin it out.

  9. Karen

    Deb! this is awesome! We recently brought forth a new mouth to feed as well… all of your regular SK recipes go over well with the adults, so I’m sure SKBaby recipes will go over just as well with the little one!! so excited to try them!

  10. I pureed carrots as the first “real food” we gave our Johnny (now almost 9 months), after a few rounds of cereal.

    He did pretty well with them. I still whip up a batch (do it just like you, in some water) every now and then for the rotation. Even though my guy is on to all sorts of more solid and exciting food these days (spaghetti! chicken and rice! homemade graham crackers!), he still loves him a good carrot puree.

  11. Elizabeth

    On the recommendation of my Indian mother, I started adding spices to my son’s food really, really early. I poached chicken with a pinch of cinnamon, roasted carrots with cumin, and fed the kid a wicked garlicky pesto at age 11 months. At the risk of sounding like a total martyr, I am going to admit that I made all my son’s baby food, and it could not have been easier or most cost-effective. At age 4, he’s a great eater (aside from the occasional foray into *only* wanting to have crackers and cheese for dinner), and I really credit his baby diet for making his toddler palette a bit more adventurous that the norm. Deb, I love that you are sharing your baby food recipes with people. I think it will help a lot of people realize that making one’s own baby food is not only quite simple, but also quite satisfying.

  12. PS – it was reading this section of your blog that made me stop giving Johnny rice cereal. /palmfaceplant/ DUH. No wonder he was so bound up!! Applesauce, rice cereal, the occasional banana… I practically had him on the BRAT diet, without even thinking about it!

    So yeah, thanks for the wakeup call. Things are moving around a lot better now.

  13. stephanie

    yup, ever since i can remember my dad has cut up carrot and celery sticks and kept them in a tupperware in the fridge with a teeny bit of water at the bottom so they stay fresh :D i never thought of it as anything but ‘what everyone does’ because i had grown up with it, but now i know it’s worth it to share these little ideas because not everyone does!

  14. Camille H

    @ Elizabeth
    Love your story as my god daughter’s parents have done this with her since birth (she is now almost 4) and she is the most AMAZING eater. Egyptian style stews, lasksa, chorizo, everything! She loves veggies and mature cheeses, too. I remember she would always have garlic breath when she was super little – hilarious! She will eat whatever we serve and always with relish. She is extremely healthy – really robust and rosy cheeked. I will definitely be trying this when a baby blesses our lives.

    Thanks for sharing Deb! These recipes are not boring at all, the tips are wonderful.

  15. This is a great idea. Making baby food can sound daunting and time consuming but you make it easy. I also want you to know your baby “recipes” and techniques can be used for the elderly or seriously ill. My father came home to be with us on Hospice and every meal came from the mini Cuisinart. The nurses and doctor never expected him to live so long and I have no doubt it was from the nutrients I was able to pack inside pureed foods rather than rely solely on those canned drink things.

  16. rachelgeneve

    Thank you, thank you! I found your site when I was pregnant and, to use your term, I went apey to discover you’re discussing your baby foods now. All my mommy friends think I’m the coolest for introducing them to you. :)

    But that was not the point. I made a delicious batch of carrots a couple weeks ago (I just steamed and did not keep the water, I will try boiling this time) but found that after the food processor there were little white “sticks” that never pureed. Now sure of their stick-to-one’s-throat-ness, I ended up pushing them through a sieve (super cumbersome and annoying) to get them out. Did anyone else experience such a thing?

    1. deb

      rachelgeneve — I would cook them longer. I look for a softness level that can be mashed with the back of a fork. If it gives with no resistance, it’s ready, at least for these kinds of early purees.

  17. pam

    not that i’m surprised even a tiny bit, but i love love love that you are training his palette early! My “babies” are 22, 18 and 14 and they would take a a well-made meal over a super-sized anything any day! yay you! and yay baby jacob for a.) being so fricking cute it’s unbearable and b.) for liking your carrots! :-)

  18. Yum! Sweet potatoes are also a hit! Great summer treat: 2 frozen bananas blended with several ice cubes, a splash of non-dairy milk and berries – store in freezer for a few hours and viola, healthy ice-cream! Baby’s can’t tell the difference :) The little guy I nanny is 15 mos. and loves bananas blended with peanut butter – something you could introduce once Jacob can tolerate the gooey stuff.

  19. Carrots are a big hit with my 7 month old as well. I spiced them up with ginger and/or mint from the garden. She gobbled them down. When I made them, I pureed them in fresh water, as I’ve been told that the nitrate level is too high for little guys. The fresh water instead of the cooking water should reduce the risk. Just a thought.

  20. Kate

    I don’t have a child (not for a good few years), but I will read anything Deb posts- a quick Google search for “carrots nitrates baby” yielded
    which reads that nitrogen poisoning from carrot consumption is only a danger with babies under 3 months of age (why would a <3 month old infant need solid food, anyway?). I'm sure Jacob will happily consume carrots for decades to come!

  21. Just wanted to report back: I made a carrot puree (1 pound of baby carrots) and added 1/2 teaspoon of cumin. My son loved it! I wouldn’t add much more cumin – they didn’t seem that flavorful at first but after freezing and reheating, you could really taste the cumin.

  22. Marianne

    I have a 7 month old… HOW DO YOU HAVE TIME TO COOK AND BLOG??! You’re my hero! And you inspire me to make homemade food for my baby. THANKS!

  23. gretchen212

    Here are more things you can do with a good carrot puree– Mediterranean style: add olive oil, mint and dill. (In Italy and Greece, olive oil is routinely added to baby food– it has lots of very good things in it). Indian style: add cumin, corriander and full fat yogurt. I’m going to try to add soft yellow lentils next time– lots of good protein in there.

    Our 8 month old gobbles it all up!

  24. Erin

    The “refreshing the carrot in cold water trick” also works well for RADISHES (!) that have become soft. I put them in ice water for a bit while I’m getting everything else ready and chopped.

  25. Shelby

    In response to Alison (comment 4): The American Pediatric Association reccommends not feeding home cooked root or leafy vegetables to babies under three months old due to nitrates. Pouring off the cooking liquid is not recommended – you would loose all the good nutrients. Older than three months and thier digestive systems are good to go and can process nitrates.

  26. Pooja

    Dear Deb
    My girl has recently turned 7 and i introduced boiled mashed carrots to her food. she has taken it rather well..and i too prefer giving my baby home food rather than boxed stuff..i shall be trying more of your baby food.

  27. Gretchen

    I am curious about peeling everything as well. So far I haven’t peeled anything I’ve cooked for my little one: peaches, pears, carrots, or apples. When you are boiling it super soft and then pureeing, I haven’t found the peels annoying at all. Maybe I am just lazy, but it is definitely time-saving and less daunting. I am curious why you are peeling the carrots, etc. Either way, I love your recipes, and I really appreciate the tips and the ideas!

    1. deb

      There’s absolutely no reason you need to peel them. I’m just sharing my approach, and I’ve pretty much always peeled carrots.

  28. Jennifer

    Hey Deb, Do you think you could add in roughly how many servings each of these baby food recipes makes? Even just how many “ice cubes” it would make would be really helpful. Thank you! Amazing recipes!

  29. I just made this for my little girl. As Deb said, it works much better than steaming, which is how I made carrots for her big brother. I also purchased an immersion blender this time around and so far it has been amazing. My blender just couldn’t deal with smaller quantities effectively. I added a trace of cooking water to thin it out and ended up with about a dozen ice cube size portions.

  30. Dawne

    Stumbled upon your site while looking for blueberry bar recipes and to my delight found you’re a new mom posting babyfood experiments. I’m definitely gonna do much more reading now. My lil man is just starting to explore solids…and it scares the bageebees outta me! Thanks a bunch of carrots! Dawne n Ollie

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