When I was weaning my girls I got a bit paranoid about including enough 'superfoods' into their diet and was verging on obsessive over Tilly not having anything sweet for the first 12 months of her life. I had it in my head that if she had anything too sweet it would ruin her taste buds and she would only ever crave sweet things. Whilst there is some truth in this, with Florence I relaxed a little more, included more fruits and the result is exactly the same, they both eat pretty much anything!
I decided quite early on that I wanted to implement a basic group of flavours that I would then consciously build upon. I started with baby rice and the usual purees; carrot, sweet potato, parsnip, apple, pea, butternut squash etc and then built from there. I added herbs and other natural flavours early on, not too much but just enough so they were getting used to various different tastes. I'm sure this is nothing more than a lot of parents do but I thought I would share our favourites with you:
Aside from all of the usual flavours named above, from 5-8 months a few of Tilly and Florences' favourites (all purees, usually steamed then blitzed) were:
- Broccoli, Apple & Courgette
- Cauliflower & Broccoli Cheese (made without flour simply cauli and or broccoli, mild cheddar and milk, you can use breast milk or /formula)
- Rice Pudding made with either breast/formula or cows milk, arborio or pudding rice and part of a vanilla pod (all pod removed before blitzing)
- Trio of root veg (various including parsnip, butternut squash, sweet potato, swede, potato, beetroot, Celeriac, Carrot), you can also use Yam and other baby safe root veg.
- Pea, Potato and Carrot
- Beetroot & Sweet potato
- Mashed banana and or avocado (Annabel Karmel)
- Apple Custard and Sweet potato custard (sounds horrid but is actually delicious!). These were made using the veg/fruit plus egg yolks, vanilla and milk (breast/formula/cows)
- Spinach mornay (an elaborate way to say Spinach, carrots, milk and cheese!)
- Porridge and prunes (oats, milk and prunes all blitzed together, sometimes used raisins too but not too many as I didn't want it to be too sweet, they loved this).
These are just a few of my concoctions and only cover the first stages of weaning. I didn't use flour to thicken in the early days just in case they were allergic. My mother is allergic to wheat and therefore I was probably a little over cautious. From around 8 months I added other flavours to these purees and they evolved into meals we all eat today. I will blog about the next stages over the coming few months.
I think if I ever had another child (which is very unlikely) then I would adopt the same self-imposed rules of mainly weaning them on vegetables in the initial stages and not feeding them too many pear/apple/apricot purees.
There are a number of well publicised foods that babies below 12 months shouldn't have including honey, tomatoes and various other fruits which are too acidic for their little tums. They also shouldn't have cows milk to drink before 12 months of age, it is however fine to use cows milk in cooking.
Babies and Toddlers need to taste the same flavours a number of times to develop a liking for them. It took me a long time to get Tilly to eat sweet potato. She just would not eat it and in the end I always had to disguise the flavour amongst other foods. It is still something today that Tilly isn't madly keen on, she will eat it but there is always a healthy debate beforehand! Florence however loves it and isn't keen on Butternut Squash.
On the whole I found weaning the children really rewarding. Don't get me wrong, some of the time it was very frustrating when I'd spent hours pureeing only to have them spit it out and tip their bowl on the floor but on the whole I loved it. I spent a long time devising new flavour concoctions which in time have turned into family favourite soups!