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Food and Drink

Baby-Led Weaning


Baby-led weaning: pasta with tomato sauceTheo is 10 months old now so he’s eating pretty much anything and everything we eat (with a few exceptions). But I often get questions about baby-led weaning so I thought I’d talk a bit about our experience with kid number two.

It’s true, you’re much more relaxed as a parent with your second child, and this also applies to BLW. At least for us. Isla’s initial egg allergy had me on edge about what we were giving her until she finally passed the allergy test. As a result, she won’t go anywhere near eggs no matter how hard we try and she can be extremely particular about what she’s eating and whether each food group is touching. It’s super fun. Though, let me say, she is, overall, a decent eater … when she wants to be.

From the start, Theo was not as gung-ho about food as Isla was. He puts everything he can get his hands on into his mouth, but wasn’t keen on food at first. We just kept trying once or twice a day with the BLW starter foods (which you can read about here) until he got the hang of it. We began when he was six months old and by seven months he was up to two full meals a day and would’ve eaten more had we offered. Now, at 10 months, he eats three solid meals each day with occasional snacks in between and still nurses five to six times. He’s a hungry guy.

I don’t know if we were just hyper sensitive with Isla because it was our first time, but it seemed like Theo did far less gagging from the start. (Read about the BLW gagging here. It’s normal, but can certainly be scary.) He also chews his food a little more than she did (she swallowed her pasta whole!) so that could explain it a little. He also got his teeth earlier than she did. I’m sure these are all factors, in addition to the fact that every kid truly is different!

Let’s talk foods.

There’s nothing we won’t offer him, except foods than contain honey, sweets or really hard foods like uncooked carrots. He eats seafood (including grilled octopus, yum!), every kind of meat, veggies sautéed in olive oil (even spinach and red peppers!), cheese, sandwiches, eggs, any and all fruit, Cheerios and we just started offering him smoothies. Here’s a list of some of our favorite foods for each meal and how we prepare them:

Theo starts nearly every day with a one-egg cheese omelet with a side of fruit and a handful or two of Cheerios if he’s still hungry. I’ve tried spoon-feeding him yogurt or oatmeal but that guy wants no part of it. He does not want help with his food. Until he can spoon-feed himself we’ll be sticking to finger foods. He also enjoys pancakes when we go out for brunch!

LUNCH (note: he gets a side of fruit and/or veggies with every meal):
grilled cheese
peanut butter sandwich (he’s ‘eh’ on this; loves PB, but not always on bread)
pasta (any way you can imagine)
avocado toast (he’s not loving this lately, but we keep trying; this was Isla’s favorite)
hummus sandwich
chicken/pork/beef (cut into small pieces)
egg salad with avocado instead of mayo, either on toast or in a pile as a finger food
the previous dinner’s leftovers

apples (cut into small pieces)
peas (in butter with pepper)
green beans (sautéed, cut in pieces)
spinach (sautéed in garlic and olive oil, cut in pieces)
peaches (cut into small pieces)
carrots (small pieces sautéed in olive oil
frozen corn/corn on the cob (sometimes he eats it off the cob, other times I cut it off)
grapes (cut in fours to avoid choking)
zucchini (sautéed in olive oil)
baked sweet potato fries
potatoes (baked, mashed, pan-friend; fries, home fries, any which way!)
tomatoes (cut into small pieces)
(he will not touch bananas or broccoli with a 10-foot pole)

chunks of cheese
hard-boiled egg
chickpeas (out of the can, rinsed and peeled)
olives (sliced)
rice cakes

Whatever we’re having. Here are few favorites:
pasta (any way you can imagine)
chicken/pork/steak (cut into small pieces; grilled, baked, pulled, any which way!)
grilled salmon
any kind of rice, but especially Thai pineapple-fried rice because yum!
cheeseburger (cut into chunks without bread)
homemade baked chicken nuggets

This is just a sample, but the moral of the story here is that Theo eats what we eat. It’s been two-and-a-half years since we started adding tiny humans to our family and we’ve never once spent a penny on baby food. While I personally don’t think there is anything wrong with purees, whether store-bought or homemade, we’ve loved baby-led weaning. As a stay-at-home mom I have the time to sit around and watch my children play with their food and then clean it up after they’ve chucked it all over the kitchen. Whether or not I have the patience is still up for debate and depends entirely on the day. I’d like to think introducing them to real, whole, textured foods from the very beginning will make them less picky later, though Isla is currently taking that theory, rolling it up like a spit ball and shooting it in my hair.

Time will tell. (To read read about complete BLW journey with Isla, plus recipes and more from her first year, which is way more detailed because first kid, click here and scroll down until you find something useful.)

Now we just have to teach them to like sushi and our work here will be done.

*Please note: This post is meant to provide useful tips about baby-led weaning. This is our family’s personal journey and is not meant to replace the advice of your doctor. I am NOT a doctor. I am a stay-at-home mom with a background in public relations so taking medical advice from me would be straight up crazy. Seriously. We’re exploring baby-led weaning in consultation with our pediatrician … every step of the way. You should do the same. Baby-led weaning: scrambled eggs Baby-led weaning: hummus and carrots Baby-led weaning:hardboiled eggs Baby-led weaning: hummus and broccoli Baby-led weaning: strawberries and omelets



Banana Muffins with Flax EggIt’s been a while since we’ve baked anything around here (I blame and the heat and the baby) but I had some perfectly ripe bananas and decided to try out the flax egg with my mom’s banana bread recipe. This is one of my favorite recipes and I’m happy to report that these muffins lost none of their flavor by replacing egg with flaxseed. In fact, they were equally as moist and delicious as I remember from my childhood. Phew! My husband typically begs me to add chocolate morsels to all baked goods, but this recipe is far better without them, in my opinion. Honey and golden raisins are the key. Isla is now at the age when she was able to help a little with the prep, and by that I mean she sat on the counter eating raisins out of the bag, stealing pieces of banana from the mixing bowl and she even tried to eat the batter when I let her mix. She’s a natural. Check out the full recipe below.

Helping mama bakeBanana Muffins with Flax EggBanana Muffins with Flax EggIngredients:
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup crisco (we used a 1/2 cup unsalted butter instead)
2 flax eggs (or 2 regular eggs if you choose)
3 mashed bananas (the darker the sweeter)
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
golden raisins to taste

Flax Egg Instructions:
1 egg = 1 tbsp ground flaxseeds + 3 tbsp of water (this muffin recipe called for 2 eggs so I used 2 tbsp of ground flaxseeds and 6 tablespoons of water)
Whip water and ground flaxseeds with a fork (like you would a real egg for scrambled eggs)
Place flax egg in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to an hour while you prepare the rest of the recipe
When you reach the step in your recipe that calls for your eggs, add the flax egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Beat together honey, sugar, crisco/butter, flax eggs, bananas
In separate bowl, add powder and soda to flour and mix
Add flour mixture to honey mixture and mix by hand
Add raisins
Bake 18-20 minutes until golden (bake for 1 hour if making a bread loaf)

Baby-Led Weaning, Recipes

isla’s favorite smoothies

favorite toddler smoothiesIsla has a smoothie nearly every day. For breakfast, as a snack or, when she’s teething, all day long. Since she’s been rejecting whole vegetables lately (except for peas), I find smoothies are the best way to sneak them into her diet. My base is almost always whole milk yogurt and I prefer to use whole milk instead of juice if I need more liquid to cut the thickness (though I do occasionally use apple juice, apple cider or OJ). She loves spinach, carrots, pumpkin and avocado, and I add any additional fruits I can get my hands on (we always have bananas in the house and I grab whichever frozen fruits are on sale at the time). I use an immersion blender so they’re quick and easy to make, and they’re great for on-the-go. Plus, they’re filling and packed with all the vitamins and nutrients she needs.

Here are a few of our favorite smoothie combinations. All of these recipes make approximately 16 ounces (Isla drinks five to eight ounces at a time) and the measurements are approximate (I wing it a lot). (Note: frozen fruits add thickness so you’ll usually need a liquid).

Avocado, Berry, Pineapple Smoothie with Honey (pictured above)
1 cup plain whole yogurt
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tbsp honey (if baby is under one skip this)
1/2 avocado
6-7 frozen strawberries
6-7 frozen pineapple pieces

Spinach, Apple, Peach Smoothie
1 cup plain whole yogurt
1/2 cup apple juice or cider
handful fresh baby spinach
1/2 granny smith apple (peeled)
6-7 frozen peach slices

Banana, Peanut Butter, Berry Smoothie
1 cup plain whole yogurt
1 tbsp peanut butter
1 banana
handful of frozen blueberries
6-7 frozen strawberries
(optional: handful of fresh baby spinach or tbsp honey)

Carrot, Apple, Pineapple smoothie
1 cup plain whole yogurt
1/2 cup apple juice or cider
1 peeled, shredded carrot
1 banana
6-7 frozen pineapple pieces
1/2 granny smith apple (peeled)

Spinach, Banana, Peach/Mango/PineappleSmoothie
1 cup plain whole yogurt
handful fresh baby spinach
1 frozen banana
6-7 frozen peach, pineapple or mango pieces (or a combo of these)

Kiwi, Strawberry Smoothie
1 cup plain whole yogurt
1/2 cup water
1 banana
1 kiwi (peeled)
6-7 frozen strawberries
(optional: handful blueberries or fresh baby spinach)

Pumpkin, Banana Smoothie (makes 16 oz):
1/2 cup plain, vanilla or banana yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
dash of ginger
1 frozen banana

I’m going to start adding things like zucchini, almond milk and flaxseed, too.

What are your favorite smoothie combos?