There is a monthly blogging event I often take part in called Family Foodies. Each month bloggers are invited to submit recipes on a particular theme, for instance pasta dishes, picnic foods, healthy desserts and so on. It’s always fun to read the entries and get plenty of cooking inspiration.
However, I was a bit dismayed to learn that August’s theme was The Under-2s:
Recipes for the teeny weeny new-to-food weaners from super-smooth veggie purees to those with a few protein lumps and bumps and first finger foods.
When it was time for Kipper to start eating solid food, we took the decision to avoid ‘special’ baby foods, and instead to give her, well, food. We knew she was ready to start eating solids because she grabbed some broccoli from my plate and started chomping on it. For her first dessert, she had a chunk of mango from our fruit salad. Juicy 🙂
I never pureed a thing. Whatever she ate came in its usual format – vegetables were cut up, steamed, boiled or fried. Pasta came the way pasta does, with sauce on it, but never amalgamated into a single pasta/sauce mush. She was able to smell, feel, see and taste how different foods behaved, both in isolation, and together.
With the obvious caveats for things like salt, honey and whole nuts, nothing was off the menu. When she was 6 or 7 months old, she was given a lump of steak at a barbecue (she and DH are carnivores). She gummed on it for about 20 minutes, until it was reduced to a soggy pink rag. Onlookers’ jaws dropped in amazement. All I could think was, “well, that’s her iron intake sorted for a while…”
As well as experiencing different textures – crunchy, soft, crumbly, crispy, gooey etc – giving Kipper a normal range of food also provided plenty of opportunity to try different flavours. The only time I ever tried to fob her off with something bland was when I made a curry, and prepared her a dish of the same vegetables but without the spicy sauce. She was about 8 months old at the time, and she took one look at our plates and realised she was getting something different. And she was having none of it. Needless to say, she had vegetable curry and rice like her Dad and me.
Regular readers of this blog will know that Kipper now eats EVERYTHING! Her favourite foods are aubergine, anchovies, pesto, smoked salmon, strawberries, 70% dark chocolate, garlic and olives. Although not necessarily in that order.
Of course the ‘baby-led weaning‘ approach also has the significant advantage that you don’t have to make 2 different meals – one for the adults and one for the kid/s – every night for the foreseeable future. (I’ve never really understood how you make the transition from kiddie food to adult food in the ‘traditional weaning’ scenario.) With baby-led weaning, the baby/child just eats the same as everyone else at the table, within reason. I reduced the amount of salt I cook with, but then, I never used much salt anyway. We haven’t missed it.
The top tip I got when Kipper was small was to buy a crinkle cutter – use it for slicing fruits and veggies and it puts a convenient baby-sized finger grip on their food. Genius!
Anyway, I will now share with you a ‘recipe’ for Roly-Poly Sandwiches, which have been a firm favourite with Kipper ever since she reached across the table for that first bit of broccoli. Over time, the slices have grown with her appetite. Come September, when she starts pre-school and I have to start making packed lunches, I think she’ll be eating these even more often! You can eat them for breakfast, lunch, tea, supper or a snack. They are versatile, nutritious, quick and easy to make, and loved by all ages – from the under-2s to the over-70s, in my experience. Perfect.
- 1 tortilla wrap
- cream cheese
- pesto (as it comes, or else mixed with cream cheese or humous)
- cream cheese mixed with a little tapenade
- smoked mackerel whizzed up with mayonnaise
- smoked salmon whizzed up with mayo or cream cheese
- tuna mayonnaise
- mashed avocado
- mashed or thinly sliced banana
- thin omelette
- honey (for the over-1s) or agave syrup
- Thinly spread the filling of your choice over the tortilla wrap. Roll up tightly.
- Slice into pieces - 1-2 cm for small children, 5-7 cm for larger ones. Bigger kids and grown-ups can usually manage to eat a whole, unsliced roly-poly.
- That's it!
I’m also joining in with a new blogging event this month – Kosher Connection. The theme for August is Brown Bag Lunches. These roly-poly sandwiches are very portable and would be great addition to any packed lunch, in a brown bag or otherwise. You can see the whole selection here: