Following my last Caterpillar Corner post – Six Reasons To Love Baby-led Weaning – today I wanted to share some of our favourite recipe ideas and on-the-go snacks, and review Gill Rapley & Tracey Murkett’s The Baby-led Weaning Cookbook, from which a lot of those recipes come.
The very first foods I started weaning Caterpillar on were:
- Steamed veg (carrot, broccoli, parsnip & green beans)
- Steamed fruits (I lightly steamed slices of apple and pear to make them easier for him to manage)
- Soft fruits (bananas, nectarines, plums – the latter I would remove the stones but leave in halves so he had something to hold onto)
- Toast fingers
- Rice cakes
- Porridge fingers (see below)
- Weetabix (softened with a tiny bit of milk and cut in half lengthways)
For steaming, I used this great Sistema microwave steamer as it is incredibly quick and easy. After a week or two, when Caterpillar began to munch up and actually eat some of the above we introduced these:
- Satsuma segments and grapes (both cut into halves or quarters as these can be choking hazards)
- Homemade Pancakes
- Meat (well cooked and cut into strips)
- Natural or Greek Yoghurt (using loaded spoon method)
- Very thick porridge
- Very thick homemade soup
- Homemade savoury muffins
- Minced meat in sauce (bolognaise, chilli etc)
- Large pasta shapes in tomato sauce (rigatoni, large shells etc)
Things you should know:
BLW is messy
Really messy. More messy than spoon feeding because your baby is getting the food to their mouths themselves. I don’t want to know how many collective hours I spent scrubbing down his highchair tray and the kitchen floor! But it isn’t too long before they get the hang of holding onto their food. And using the loaded spoon method meant that Caterpillar was fairly early to cutlery too.
There will be waste
I know this doesn’t sit easy with a lot of people but unfortunately there is some food waste with BLW, but hopefully if it helps your child be less fussy it will lead to less waste in the future.
You need patience
You have to be willing to give your little one as long as they need to explore the new textures and flavours, and to physically munch up the food with their gums or minimal teeth. Although I was really surprised what Caterpillar could handle with just his gums, it was quite remarkable.
If you like to cook, BLW is perfect for you. It gave me a chance to cook new things and watch Caterpillar try them. As I mentioned, I was still feeling a little inadequate as a parent during this time, following PND, but BLW actually helped to build my confidence as I knew I was a decent cook and felt I was being a good mum by providing Caterpillar with great food.
Shop bought on-the-go snacks
Where I could I brought fruit, veg sticks and homemade savoury muffins out with me but, let’s be honest, sometimes you just want super quick snacks and I found these ones were all a huge hit with Caterpillar:
- Organix Goodies Soft Oaty Bars
- Organix Goodies Cheese & Herb Puffs
- Bear Paws Pure Fruit Shapes
- Ella’s Kitchen Parsnip & Poppy Seed Cracker Bites
- Organix Rice Cakes
- Heinz Apple Biscotti
For anyone about to embark on the Baby-led Weaning journey I strongly recommend buying one or both of Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett’s books. The cookbook in particular is brilliant.
Part one contains all the information you could need about getting started with BLW including the benefits, how to know when your baby is ready and what to expect from weaning this way. A particularly useful reference point is the Developing Skills pages which take you through by age what you can expect your child to be able to manage and food suggestions for that age group. The foods to avoid and food safety sections are incredibly useful and reassuring too.
Part two is a huge selection of varied recipes to suit all stages and tastes. Snacks and breakfast foods like Quick Porridge Fingers (porridge cooked in the microwave with only a small amount of milk so you can cut into handheld slices) and carrot muffins became real staples in our house. There are lots of items that you can make in bulk and freeze too (Caterpillar loves tuna croquettes, homemade beef burgers and chickpea patties).
I love that the recipes don’t shy away from big flavours – chilli con carne, lamb tagine, saag paneer – it’s all there. I still use the curry paste recipes regularly. The book is bright, clear and really easy to use with cute illustrations and lots of ideas and advice.
I hope these baby-led weaning posts have been helpful to anyone curious about BLW and that you find it enjoyable. If you want more information on baby-led weaning, along with all the advice and safety guidelines, please visit Gill Rapley’s website.
You can get your hands on a copy of The Baby-led Weaning Cookbook here.
*Disclaimer: I’m not an expert, just a mum sharing her experience*