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Introduce Solids With Baby Led Weaning
Introducing your baby to solids can be so stressful!
Then you suddenly have to think about weaning them.
Onto actual food.
Oh the questions come thick and fast…
What should they be eating?
Are they eating enough?
How come they are not eating what little Jonny down the road who is two days younger is eating?
Then there’s the mess.
Oh the mess!
Plus the joy of producing a freezer full of mush that they steadfastly refuse to eat ….
But weaning can be much less stressful if you ditch those pesky purees … and let your baby take the lead with the baby led weaning approach to introducing solids.
So What is Baby Led Weaning?
“Baby led weaning” is based on the idea that babies will enjoy food more AND be much less picky later on if they can feed themselves with handfuls of stuff.
And that babies can actually eat an awful lot of what the rest of the family is eating which means they never get the idea food will be cooked up just for them.
Does Baby Led Weaning Work?
From my experience, yes!
Following the advice of a supposed baby “guru” I did produce loads of purees for spoon feeding but also offered hand held meat and cheese. And guess what?
I now have a three year old who munches great chunks of parmesan and devours adult sized rare steak … when she can get it … but hates all fruit and veg.
My 3 dearest mama friends did much the same as me first time round but did full on baby led weaning for their second babies. I’ve got to tell you those 3 kids are the least picky eaters ever!!
So I would highly recommend a baby led introduction to solids.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t do some healthy and lovely purees as well … like almost everything in parenting there’s a lot to be said for muddling along in the middle 🙂
How Do You Get Started?
Now obviously although they are going to eat what the family are eating you’re not just going to plonk meat and two veg down in front of them.
But use the list below … cadged from my mama friends who totally rocked baby led weaning … to plan family meals that incorporate lots of yummy stuff that is easy for baby to hold or scoop up and to digest but still tasty for the rest of the family.
And the mess? Well yep, it’s messy but at least if they are enjoying their food they are less likely to be flicking it round the room … aren’t they 🙂
First Food for Baby Led Weaning
- Mango – lots of babies love it, but it is sooo slippy
- Banana – cut length ways easier than it is in rounds
- Citrus Fruit – wait until 8 months if any history of allergy
- Avocado – must be ripe, may turn to guacamole in their hands, but heh 🙂
- Peaches – unless really ripe, lightly steam or bake in halves in oven with knobs of butter and scoop out from flesh from skins when cool
- Pears – lightly steamed or cut into chips & baked with cinnamon
- Nectarines – lightly steamed unless really ripe
- Melons – cut into good sized pieces
- Strawberries – allergies quite common so introduce in isolation
- Plums – if not really soft, steam slightly
- Apples – cut into chips & bake with cinnamon
- Grapes – peeled as skin can stick in throat – can freeze, but watch for choking
- Blueberries – watch for choking
- Steamed Carrot – gently steamed batons so soft but firm enough to hold
- Cucumber – raw chips, some may prefer peeled if skin bitter
- Broccoli – can roast or steam, but try to cook so you want to eat it as well
- Cauliflower – roasted or steamed – as with all veg try to cook so you want to eat it
- Squash – roasted or boiled
- Sweet Potato – roasted or boiled
- Courgette – steamed, roasted or grilled
- Aubergine – roasted, steamed or grilled – cook really well so not rubbery & bitter
- Cauliflower & Parmesan – boil cauliflower florets for about 10 minutes. Drain & add oil, lemon juice, 50g parmesan and thyme to a roasting tin and roast at 200c for 15 minutes
- Roasted Root Pasta – peel & if needed core a mix of good roasting veg e.g. carrot, squash, sweet potato, parsnips & potato. Cut into fat chips. Put in roasting tin with olive oil & split garlic cloves. Roast for 1 hour. Stir up with penne or fusilli and grated cheese
- Veg Curry – Sweat onion for 5-10 mins then add garlic, ginger, and turmeric stirring for 2 mins. Add tin of tomatoes and cook for 15-20 min. Add big chunks of root veg and/or peppers, broccoli, squash or pumpkin, a tin of chickpeas and ~400ml stock & simmer for ~45 mins. Stir in yoghurt and a little garam masala. Serve with rice and give baby the rice with big chunks of veg but avoid chickpeas
- Felafel – Soak dried apricots for 15 mins. Fry onion & garlic for until soft. Blitz apricots, onions, garlic, tin of chickpeas, breadcrumbs, chopped coriander, parsley, squeeze of orange juice and 1 tsp of cumin in food processor until smooth. Mould into flat patties and cook for 20 mins 190c on a baking tray – turn over after 10 mins
- Spelt Biscuits – Rub 75g of unsalted butter into 200g spelt flour & 1/2 tsp of baking powder and then bind together with ~75ml of apple juice. Roll-out and cut out shapes. Cook for 15 mins at 180c
- Apple Muffins – Make basic sweet muffin mixture adding cinnamon to flour. At end add peeled and grated desert apple. Can use half spelt flour
- Soup & Toast – Dip strips of buttered toast into whatever soup you’re having
- Bread Sticks – Very popular, but watch out for salt content and choking
- Dry Cereal – Look for low sugar / low salt varieties and some organic brands do spelt versions which may be better if there is a risk of wheat allergy
- Cheese – Sticks or grated – avoid blue cheese or soft cheese
- Hard Boiled Egg – Need to be very wary of allergies so introduce on its own
- Yoghurt – Very messy but most love – avoid goat and sheep’s milk
- Pancakes – You can make pancakes with milk rather than egg and cut into strips. Make quite thick so not too floppy, Avoid honey or syrup
- Omelette – If you’re sure there’s no egg allergy well cooked omelette strips
- Eggy Bread – Beat 1 tbsp milk to each egg & pour over slices of bread in adish. Fry for ~2 mins on each side in sunflower oil over medium heat. Make sure egg all cooked through. Cut into slices
- Baked Fish – Either put fillets on a baking tray, brush with oil & cook for 10-20 minutes (depending on size) at ~190c OR wrap in foil with some parsley & lemon juice at about ~180c. Flake the fish making sure there are no bones. Could serve with a white or tomato sauce to make more interesting. Avoid shark, swordfish or merlin due to mercury levels
- Polenta Chips – Bring polenta with stock to boil stirring well, simmer for 5 mins. Remove from heat, stir in parmesan & leave to set on plate. Cut into chips and fry for a few minutes with thin layer of oil
- Chicken Stips with Yoghurt – Cut chicken breast into hand holdable pieces mix up with natural yoghut and very well ground dried sage. Put strips on a baking sheet & bake for 20 mins at 200c
- Lamb Shanks Brown shanks with oil in casserole dish. Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic and about half a litre of water. Bring to boil and then put in oven with lid on for 2 hours – turn meat half way through. Meat should be very tender so can give strips of meat to baby to chew
- Cooked Pasta – If there could be a risk of wheat allergy can get gluten free – some babies prefer if sauce, chunks of veg & pasta kept separate
- Spices – Can add e.g. garlic, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon from early age plus stronger spices if you like
Do hope this list gets you started.
If you’re looking for more ideas we do totally recommend the River Cottage Baby & Toddler Cookbook (UK), which has loads of lovely practical ideas for healthy meals the whole family can eat together from baby up … our copy has some decidedly sticky pages, which in my mind is always evidence of an outstanding cookbook 🙂 We’ve used it every week for the last 5 years!
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