10 Great Recipes For The Early Stages Of Weaning
Beginning to wean your baby is an exciting step; but you might be nervous about where to start. Don’t worry, making your own baby food doesn't have to be hard; and it has some great benefits:
-You know exactly what your little one is eating, avoiding ‘fillers’ common in commercial baby food.
-You save money.
-You can be confident all the ingredients are fresh, healthy, and full of nutrients.
Single ingredient favourites
When first introducing your little one to ‘real’ food at around 6 months, it’s best to start with purees made from a single ingredient; using naturally sweet vegetables and mild flavoured fruits. Bananas, Butternut Squash, Avocado, Carrots, and Peas can be a good place to start; using one at a time, and waiting 4 days before trying a new one; to ensure they are being digested properly.
To cook, you can steam, bake, boil, or microwave. Steaming maintains the most nutrients; and make sure you use a microwave-safe container if cooking in the microwave. At first, it’s best to dilute purees to a nearly liquid consistency with breast milk, water, or formula; gradually thickening the consistency as your little one gets used to new flavours and textures. To give you an idea of where to start, we have 2 tasty ideas below:
1. Sweet Potato Puree
Rinse the Sweet Potatoes thoroughly, then peel, and dice into small chunks. Boil for 10-15 minutes, or until tender, then rinse in cold water. Add a little of your chosen liquid (breast milk, water, or formula) and use a hand blender to puree; adding more liquid until you reach your chosen consistency.
2. Pear Puree
Peel and cut the pear into chunks, avoiding the tough seed portion in the centre. Steam gently until tender; then blend until smooth. Pears are usually quite juicy, but you can add a little breast milk or water to thin.
2 ingredient combinations
Once you and your little one are comfortable with the basics, it’s time to mix things up with tasty combinations. It’s still best to work with one new ingredient at a time, but these can be mixed with tried-and-tested favourites.
3. Avocado and Banana no-cook puree
Cut the avocado in half, remove the stone, and scoop out the contents into a bowl. Add chopped banana, and puree till smooth; adding liquid gradually until you achieve the right consistency. Easy!
4. Chicken and Apple puree
Put a chicken breast on a large sheet of tinfoil, and tuck peeled & chopped apple around it. Gather up the edges of the tinfoil, and fold over the top to form a loose parcel, and bake for about 30 minutes at 180 degrees. Once out of the oven, cut the chicken in half to ensure it is thoroughly cooked right through. Then puree with the juices from the foil; adding a little water, breast milk, or formula for a lighter consistency.
Adding new flavours
It’s now time to have real fun, with the messy adventure that is weaning! When your little one is over 8 months, it’s safe to start experimenting with herbs and spices, as well as different food combinations. Add some rosemary in with that butternut squash, give mashed potatoes a kick with a blend of paprika and chives, or sprinkle chopped parsley over fish dishes. Just make sure you introduce flavours one at a time as usual; and until they are over 12 months, avoid adding salt.
5. Butternut Squash, Carrot, and Apple, with sweet spices
Put the chopped and peeled Butternut Squash, Carrot, and Apple in a saucepan, and cover with water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat slightly and simmer until tender. Drain, then add a pinch of powdered cinnamon and nutmeg, and puree until smooth.
6. Minty Peas with Yoghurt
Boil the frozen peas for 5 minutes, then transfer to the blender with a tablespoon of unsweetened natural yoghurt, and some fresh mint. Puree until smooth, adding a little extra yoghurt to thin it up. It also tastes great with a pinch of garlic powder; or the addition of well-cooked lamb.
Chunkier meals for confident spoon feeders
Weaning your baby toward solid food is a learning curve for everyone involved; but at this stage you might consider keeping more texture in your food, and possibly pureeing the family meal rather than always giving baby something different. Need a few ideas?
7. Pan fried Salmon with spinach and peas
8. Simple Ratatouille
Fry the salmon in a little olive oil, until it is cooked through. Meanwhile, steam the veg until tender. Remove the salmon skin, and ensure there aren’t any bones. Place half the salmon in a bowl with the veg, and puree into small chunks; then separate the remaining salmon into flakes with a fork, and stir into the other ingredients. To add further texture, you can also include some potato, or chopped parsley.
Peel and chop potatoes, carrots, courgette, and red pepper; then steam, or lightly fry in a little olive oil. Add chopped (and skinned) tomatoes, and cook for a few more minutes; before blending to your preferred consistency. This can be mixed up with the addition of swede or aubergine, and tastes especially delish with a little basil or oregano.
Handy dips for baby led feeding
Once your little one is developing teeth and has a good pincer-grip, you might want to alternate between chunky finger foods, and pureed food. But the two don’t have to be separate; and making dips for finger food can be a good way to introduce new elements to baby’s feeding. They’re also tasty by themselves (or for the grown-ups!)
9. Super-speedy hummus
Blend 1 tin of chickpeas (make sure there is no added sugar or salt in them) with a tablespoon of olive oil, 1 clove of garlic, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a pinch of freshly ground black pepper, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Especially tasty with chunks of carrot, or flat-breads.
10. Baby Guacamole
Blend avocado with a small squeeze of lemon juice, a pinch of ground pepper, and a pinch of cumin; then stir in finely chopped coriander, or chives. You can also add some chopped tomato, to make it more substantial. But be warned; you and baby might find yourselves eating this straight out of the bowl!
Ready to start experimenting? Remember that all these ideas can be even quicker and more cost-effective if you make a larger amount at once, and freeze individual portions until required. Baby food can be safely frozen for 3 months (but be warned, they start to lose their nutritional value over time.) The easiest way is to use ice trays, and cover them in clingfilm before putting them in the freezer; then just take out 1 portion at a time. Please note: You can cook, then re-freeze frozen vegetables; but breast milk should never be re-frozen.
This article is kindly sponsored by Bosch, in celebration of the Bosch Hand blender MSM88160GB; which is perfect for making easy, and nutritious baby food for your little one.
Bosch: Mum’s helping hand.