Baby Led Weaning Recipes for all the family to enjoy!
In case you’re new to the term “Baby Led Weaning” (BLW), in short it means baby eats what you eat from the age of 6 months old. Minus the salt and refined sugar, this way of introducing baby to food basically skips all of the mush and takes baby straight to yummy fresh and “grown-up” foods. From smoothies to salads – everything is game!
Baby Led Weaning is a method of introducing solid foods that leaves it up to baby to decide what and how much to eat. While not really a “hands off” approach as you do need to keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t shovel too much in at once, Baby Led Weaning does advocate allowing your baby to make all food choices for him or herself. For me, I leave baby T with the meal we’re eating as a family on her high chair tray and leave her be as we get on with our meal. She’ll sometimes play a bit but that’s all part of the learning. She sometimes likes to use a spoon for herself if I hand it to her with the food on it (not an official BLW way but she’s now nearly 10 mo so she’ll soon learn to use cutlery anyway).
I will warn you – this method of introducing food is not for the faint-hearted – once baby T is finished it looks like a food fight broke out between her and the chair… and the floor and the dog! The dog is pleased – me, not so much but it’s just food mess so no harm done.
Obviously, as a healthy foodie geeky mama, I was super duper excited to introduce baby T to solid foods. As soon as she was ready, I was more than ready with my list of organic BLW gourmet salt-free recipes – it was like waiting for Christmas!
At first, I started with simple meals with sweet potatoes, squash baked with coconut oil and steamed veggies, but we soon moved on to meals so impressive that when she ate every last mouthful, I was truly surprised!
I am lucky, I know, baby T has rarely turned her nose up at food put in front of her but if she did I would try again a few days later and usually found it was to her taste by then.
However, even though it’s been so far plain-ish sailing for us, I wasn’t taking any chances and after reading the book “French Kids Eat Everything – Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters” by Karen Le Billon for inspiration (excellent book to read if you do have picky eaters, mamas), I decided to put in some rules around our meal times so that we start off on the right foot anyway:
- Just eat real food – no refined sugars or processed foods, the worst we might “cheat” with is maybe a bit of a buttery croissant the odd weekend, but it’s still real food at the end of the day, not as processed as a cereal or some of the kid’s snacks you see in packets these days.
- She eats when we eat and never alone at the table – I’m lucky that I could switch my meal times to fit in with her timetable, but even if I am not there with her, I ensure that whoever eats with her at least eats something whilst she eats her meal.
- Always dessert – even if it means just a few slices of satsuma, my goal is to show her that food should not be used as “treats” – everyone can finish their meal with a sweet taste in a healthy and moderate way. It’s all about balance.
- NO MEDIA at the table – no phones, no TV, nothing but the pleasure of smiles and conversation.
- Mindful eating – no snacking unless at set snack times – of course, I get caught out on this from time to time, especially when we are with other kids generally, but otherwise we snack at 11am and 4pm so it is enough time between meals so that she will be hungry for her proper meal. And snack is a big deal – if possible, we sit down and eat together whether that be outside on a rug or at the table – not walking around snacking mindlessly.
- Variation – even though I do not eat meat, baby T does until she is old enough to makes her own choices, so she eats meat once or twice a week, plenty of fruit and veg as well as good fats, fish, grains and pulses. I try to plan the meals as much as possible so that we don’t eat the same thing in one week – leftovers tend to get frozen so that it’s not wasted and we have a meal on hand for the following week. Variety, for anyone, is key to a healthy and happy way of eating.
I haven’t hit the terrible toddler phase yet and I’m sure my rules and healthy eating habits will be tested to the max, however, so far baby T loves broccoli, devours peaches and her favourite meals include avocado pesto pasta (made with lentil pasta – see below), fish pie and lentil stew with spinach! She likes to try new things and stops when she is full. Even if it gets a little messy at times, this BLW thing has worked well for us so far, so who cares!
Try our most commonly used high plant-based recipes – all baby T (and Zighy the dog) approved – ENOJY!
1. Avocado Pesto Pasta – so easy you don’t even need an official recipe!
(serves 2 adults + 1 baby)
For the pesto (you may have some leftover, I’d use only a few teaspoons stirred into baby’s pasta – store in a jar in the fridge for 2-3 days, or freeze).
- 120ml of cold pressed olive oil
- large handful fresh basil
- small handful fresh baby spinach
- 1 garlic clove (sauté in a pan on a low heat for 3-4 minutes)
- ½ large ripe avocado – make sure it is soft – you can use up to 1 whole avo if you want the extra creaminess
- pinch of black pepper
- simply blend in a high speed blender until creamy and smooth
- add to your favourite cooked pasta and throw in 1-2 fresh steamed veggies such as zucchini and broccoli, and some fresh salad such as tomatoes – stir in until well combined.
We use red lentil pasta (100% red lentil) by Tolerant – you can fid this in The Change Initiative, Dubai, and it takes only 8 mins to cook!
Leftovers are great cold!
2. Share a Green Smoothie
(serves 2 adults + 1 baby)
Baby T loves creamy smoothies and they can be the perfect snack – you can use leftovers to make baby ice-pops!
- 1 large banana
- 1 TBS coconut oil
- 2 tsp frozen mint or 3-4 sprigs of fresh mint
- ¼ cup pineapple or papaya – high in enzymes to help digestion
- 2 cups milk of choice – we use fresh almond milk (I would not use shop bought almond milk in a carton for a baby as it contains a thickener that is not great for digestion – carrageenan).
- Optional: add ½ avocado to make this super creamy
3. Picnic Lunch
The best lunches are those lazy ones where you can take it outside and enjoy the sun – this is the perfect sharing plate for you and baby to enjoy – baby will love the different colors, tastes and textures:
- Few slices of goat’s feta cheese (watch salt content as it can be high on certain brands – keep below 1g of salt per day for baby under 1 year old). I have chosen to use organic goat and sheep dairy for baby T as the size of the animal is much closer to us as humans than a full blown cow is compared to a human. The lactose content is far lower than cow dairy.
- Hummus – perfect to dip – make your own by simply blending chickpeas with olive oil and lemon.
- brown-rice crackers (we chose thin zero slat ones – Kallo is a great brand found in most supermarkets) – perfect to dip!
- Fresh steamed veggies – soft enough for baby to munch on.
- Fresh avocado slices – babies love the cool veggies on their sore gums. Avo is a perfect good fat for baby to eat.
- Fresh berries – make sure to cut grapes long ways and in 4 slices per grape to prevent choking hazards.
- Spelt soda bread – homemade so I know what’s in it and perfect in small thin pieces for baby T as she uses it as a rusk.
See www.graciouslygreen.com for details.
Please note, this article is not intended to provide medical advice and you should always consult your medical care practitioner before changing your diet and that of your baby.