How to Make Instant Pot Baby Food — The Ultimate Guide
Do you need an Instant Pot or other multi-cooker to make baby food? Of course not! But, boy, it really can make your life easier. And if you already have a multi-cooker on your counter, making baby food in it is a no-brainer. Here’s my complete guide to making Instant Pot baby food.
The Perks of Using an Instant Pot to Make Baby Food
Less Mess. When you use a multi-cooker, DIY baby food is simpler than ever. Most recipes require only one pot, and if you use an immersion blender, there are no cumbersome transfers to a blender or food processor and fewer dishes to do (yay!).
Hands-Off Time. The biggest benefit to cooking with a multi-cooker is that once the food is in the pot and the lid is sealed, you’re done! When you’re using an Instant Pot not everything is super-speedy, since it takes time for the cooker to come up to pressure and then release pressure at the end. But you don’t have to stand by the stove–there’s no stirring, no flipping, and no monitoring liquid levels. The machine does all the work for you.
Fast Family Meals. The Instant Pot is genius at making tough foods soft, quickly. Think pulled pork, bean stews, silky veggie soups, and nutty whole grains. When you cook these foods in the Instant Pot, it’s easy to serve a meal with a texture that’s appropriate for baby and flavors that are appealing to everyone. A few of my favorite family recipes from my book The Multi-Cooker Baby Food Cookbook are Lemony Risotto and these four meals that are completely customizable for baby: Veggie Tofu Noodle Soup, Greek Meatball Pitas With Tzatziki, Cauliflower Mac ‘n’ Cheese, and Beans, Greens, and Pasta.
The Equipment You’ll Need
Aside from your Instant Pot or other multi-cooker and other standard kitchen equipment, it will be helpful to have these items on hand:
- An immersion blender or conventional upright blender – With an immersion blender you can blend right in the pot; a conventional blender will give you an ultra smooth purée.
- Potato masher – This comes in handy when your baby is ready for a chunkier purée
- Steamers – The metal rack that came with your appliance and a collapsible metal steamer basket
How to Make Fruit and Vegetable Purées in the Instant Pot
If you’re practicing traditional spoon-feeding, the Instant Pot will likely become your best friend. It’s easy and economical to say, cook up a batch of apples or broccoli that purée beautifully and freeze well. And, the method is simple:
- Put about 1/2 cup-3/4 cup water into the multi-cooker; and add chopped fruits or veggies to the pot. Use more water for denser vegetables, like carrots, since the liquid will become part of the purée. Most fruits, and some veggies like zucchini, require a little less water since they are naturally moisture-rich.
- Cook on high pressure until they food is very tender. Quick-release the pressure, and let the food cool for about 10 minutes.
- Blend the food into a purée using an immersion blender right in the pot, or transfer the food and the cooking liquid to a traditional blender. If your baby is ready for more texture, you could also mash the food with a potato masher or fork.
In most cases, the only variable is how long to cook the food for. Here’s a cheatsheet for many of the most popular fruits and veggies:
- Apples, sliced – 3 minutes
- Asparagus – 2-3 minutes
- Butternut Squash, quartered (not peeled) on a rack – 12-15 minutes
- Carrots, cut into sticks – 6 minutes
- Cauliflower, florets – 1-2 minutes
- Green Beans – 3 minutes
- Peaches, halved – 4 minutes
- Plums, halved – 2 minutes
- Sweet potatoes, peeled and whole – 15 minutes
- Zucchini, chopped – 2 minutes
How to Make Finger Foods in the Instant Pot
You can easily make single-ingredient finger foods in your multi-cooker, like green beans, broccoli florets, and even fruit.
No matter how you’re preparing finger foods for your baby, they need to be the right shape and texture. You can find more details about how to cut foods for babies 6-8 months here and older babies (and in my book Baby-Led Feeding), but in a nutshell remember that foods should either be cut into sticks about the size and shape of an adult pinky finger or should be cut into small, chickpea-sized pieces. In terms of texture, foods should be soft enough to mash with gentle pressure between your thumb and forefinger.
With that knowledge under your belt, cut vegetables into the appropriate shape and place them on a steamer basket over 1/2 cup water in the cooker. Cook on high pressure for about a minute less time than you would for any food you’re puréeing (see above).
Remember that thicker purées, like mashed potatoes, can also be finger foods. Yes, your baby will pick them up with her whole fist. It’s SO messy, but so fun for your baby and a great way for them to explore new tastes and textures.
Want more info on how to make finger foods for baby-led weaning in the Instant Pot? Check out my video interview with registered dietitian (and mom of seven!) Katie Ferraro at Fortified Family. We talked about how to cook meat for babies, “boil” eggs in the Instant Pot, and how to feel more confident in the kitchen.
Important Instant Pot Tips and Reminders
- Food that has been cooked under pressure is VERY HOT. Take cooling time into account when you’re planning your meal.
- Unlike on the stovetop, where you can turn the heat down a touch, depending on your model of multi-cooker you have little or no control over the temperature when cooking on the Sauté setting. If food is browning too quickly add a little more oil to the pot, add a tablespoon or more of water, or turn off the multi-cooker for a minute or two. The residual heat means your food will continue cooking. Once the sizzling really slows down, you can hit Sauté again to finish up.
- Cooking times vary depending on several factors, including how small a food has been chopped, how old dried beans are (for example), and exactly how much liquid is in the pot. I prefer to err on the low end of cooking time to start because you can always reseal the pot and cook for another minute or two more.
- That said, if you’re trying to reseal the pot remember that you won’t be able to lock the lid again right away. The contents of the pot will be too hot for the lid to lock on securely with the pressure valve down. Wait about five minutes, and you should be good to go. The pot will come up to pressure much more quickly the second time around because the food is already very hot.
Want to to really dive into making baby food in your Instant Pot? The Multi-Cooker Baby Food Cookbook has over 100 recipes plus a full chapter of nutrition info, feeding tips, and advice on avoiding food allergies. Get more info about the book here, and happy cooking!