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Food

FINGER FOODS FOR WEANING BABIES WHO WON’T EAT PURÉE

I started weaning Tall Boy when he was just over 5 months old. I was eating a banana and he was showing interest so I offered it to him. He happily took a bite and for the first time in my life I realised just how messy bananas can be.

After a few tries of banana I delved in to the world of Annabelle Karmel and made batches of purée with the aim of following her weaning programme. Someone gave me the book, which incorporated a meal planner, so it all seemed pretty straightforward.

Everything was fine at first, although I never did breastfeed when she said to. Feeding meals when recommended and offering the milk feeds as Tall Boy requested worked for us at the beginning.

And then Tall Boy stopped eating puree. Cue much angst, a few days of not feeding him solid food and then deciding to go back to where we started, with a bite of banana.

It turned out that Tall Boy hadn’t gone off food, just puree, and mainly it seemed, because he wanted to feed himself.

So there we were, unplanned baby lead weaning. But I couldn’t face the idea of letting him cover himself and everything else in bolognese, and he didn’t really like getting his hands dirty either. For a while I had no idea how I was going to get enough nutrients in to him. Everything had to be finger foods. It was time to get creative, and I scoured the internet for ideas. 

Since then a few friends have been in exactly the same situation. I thought it would be helpful to share the recipes that became my go-to weaning recipes for the first months, until Tall Boy would accept a bit of spoon feeding again and worked out how to use a spoon to feed himself too. 

By that point we were long past the purée stage but bolognese, tagine, and rice dishes were soon on the menu. In fact, from then onwards we could all eat the same thing and cooking became a lot easier.

 

Snacks

 

Rice Cakes

 

Fresh Fruit

Pretty much anything goes here; melon, banana, strawberries, blueberries, satsumas, kiwi fruit, raspberries, halved or quartered grapes, mango, pineapple.
 

Breadsticks

 

No sugar banana bread

Ingredients:

2 large ripe bananas, mashed

6oz raisins

8oz self-raising flour

4oz butter

2 beaten eggs

pinch nutmeg

pinch cinnamon

Method: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees
  2. Add the nutmeg and cinnamon to the flour and rub in the butter until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
  3. Stir in the raisins and the egg, then add the mashed banana.
  4. Bake in a greased loaf tin for 45 mins to 1 hour, until firm, risen and golden.

 

Ice lollies

Ingredients:

Yeo valley or other small toddler friendly lolly

Lolly sticks

Method: 

  1. Open the yoghurt and place a lolly stick in to the middle.
  2. Wrap in clingfilm, using the clingfilm to hold the lolly stick in the middle of the yoghurt.
  3. Freeze.

 

Breakfast

 

Ready Brek bites

Ingredients:

Ready Brek

Whole milk

Method: 

  1. Mix the Ready Brek with a small amount of milk. Experiment until you find a consistency that is thick enough for your baby to pick up once cooked.
  2. Cook in the microwave, again until you are happy with the consistency.

 

Blueberry pancakes

baby friendly blueberry pancakesIngredients:

250g self-raising flour

1/2 level tsp baking powder

25g caster sugar

2 medium eggs, lightly beaten

275ml whole milk

50g unsalted butter

150-200g bluberries

sunflower oil, for cooking

Method: 

  1. Mix the flour, baking powder and sugar in a large bowl.
  2. Lightly beat the eggs with the milk and pour the egg mixture slowly in to the flour, whisking all the time until you have a smooth batter.
  3. Stir in the melted butter, then add the blueberries.
  4. Heat a little oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat.
  5. Drop spoonfuls of the batter in to the pan.
  6. Cook for a couple of minutes, until bubbles appear on the surface of the pancakes.
  7. Flip over and cook for a few more minutes.
  8. Check that they are cooked all the way through then tip on to a plate and repeat with the rest of the batter.
  9. Serve with fresh fruit.

 

Oaty Fingers

Ingredients: 

10 heaped tbsp porridge oats

10 tbsp full fat milk

2tsp ground cinnamon

Method: 

  1. Pour the oats in to a small, flat bottomed microwaveable dish and pour over the milk.
  2. Add the cinnamon and mix together.
  3. Press the oat mix down in the dish with the back of a spoon.
  4. Cook in the microwave for 2 minutes on high.
  5. Cut in to fingers and serve.
  6. Alternatively cook in the oven at 190 degrees for 15 minutes.

 

Breakfast biscuits

baby breakfast biscuits in the shape of a boy and girlIngredients:

8floz pure apple juice

4oz flour

4oz baby rice

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees
  2. Combine all the ingredients together in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
  3. Turn the mixture out on to a lightly floured surface and roll out to around 1/2 inch thickness.
  4. Cut in to shapes of your choice.
  5. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown.

 

Cereal cake

Ingredients: 

2 weetabix

20g cornflakes

100ml whole milk

1 small banana

1 small fairy cake tin

Method: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees.
  2. Mix together 1 weetabix with the milk and cornflakes, crushing the cornflakes as you do so, until you have a paste.
  3. Mash the banana in to the cereal mixture until smooth, then add the second weetabix. You should have something like a sticky cement consistency.
  4. Divide in to 6 and spoon in to the greased tin, pressing down with a spoon so you have 6 little discs.
  5. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

 

Lunch

 

Cheese on toast

 

Omelette

I used this tomato and basil omelette recipe because it was super easy and Tall Boy loved it.
 

Cheese and tomato muffins

tomato and cheese muffins fresh out of the oven, still in baking trayThis recipe for cheese and tomato muffins came from the Annabel Karmel website. I still make it now so I have a quick lunch ready in the freezer if I’m heading out at short notice.
 

Peanut butter on toast

You can either make your own peanut butter, which I tried once, by mixing peanuts in a mini chopper until they form a butter consistency, but it’s much easier to buy a jar that has nothing else added. See tips section for details of the brands I used.
 

Veggie muffins

Ingredients: 

4oz courgette (grated)

4oz sweet potato (grated)

4oz Parmesan cheese (grated)

2 1/2 -3oz fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs

1tbsp plain flour

1sp baking powder

2tbsp olive oil

2tbsp water

Method:

    1. Preheat over to 180 degrees.
    2. Soften veg by simmering in a little water for 2-3 minutes. Drain and pat dry.
    3. Drain and mix all the ingredients thoroughly in a bowl.
    4. Spoon the mixture in to a greased muffin tin or muffin cases.
    5. Bake for around 20 minutes until golden.

 

Eggy bread

Ingredients: 

1 egg

1 slice of bread

Method: 

  1. Beat the egg in a small bowl.
  2. Dip the bread in the egg until fully coated.
  3. Fry in oil over a medium heat until brown.

 

Dinner

 

Purée pasta bake

I had a stash of purées in the freezer, and I managed to use some of them up by mixing the purée with cooked pasta spirals. Sometimes I grated cheese on top and grilled to make a form of pasta bake.

Fish fingers

I found that the cheaper supermarket own brands, especially the basics versions, had less salt than other brands. I would serve these with sweet potato wedges and steamed vegetables.

Pasta meatball bake

This was an Annabel Karmel recipe that Tall Dad and I loved too, so it turned out to be a great family meal. The meatballs and pasta were easy for Tall Boy to pick up to feed himself.

Falafel

Ingredients: 

5 dried apricots, roughly chopped

Rapeseed or olive oil for cooking

1 small onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed

50g fresh breadcrumbs

small bunch of coriander, chopped

small bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped

A squeeze of orange juice

1sp ground cumin

Method: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees.
  2. Soak the apricots in boiling water for 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 1tbsp oil in a small frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and fry gently for about 10 minutes, until soft.
  4. Drain the apricots and put in to a food processor with the onion, garlic, chickpeas, breadcrumbs, chopped herbs, orange juice and cumin.
  5. Process to a thick paste, which should be quite smooth to ensure the falafel will hold together during cooking.
  6. Roll heaped teaspoonfuls in a small balls and flatten to form little patties.
  7. Fry in a non-stick pan for a few minutes on each side until golden, or bake for about 20 minutes, flipping them over half way.
  8. Serve with homous, pitta bread, and any salad your baby will eat.

 

Fish pie bites

These fish pie bites were great to have in the freezer and serve with veggies.

Broccoli, chicken and potato bites

As with the fish pie bites, I kept these broccoli, chicken and potato bites in the freezer, and served them with veggies.

Pea fritters

These pea fritters froze well. I preferred them fresh and Tall Dad and I sometimes ate them with poached eggs.

Egg parcels

Ingredients: 

1tbsp rapeseed or olive oil

A bunch of spring onions, sliced

A couple of handfuls of spinach

4 eggs, lightly beaten

1-2tbsp whole milk

A small knob of unsalted butter

Few scraps of cooked, flaked fish, cooked chopped ham, or bacon

50g Cheddar cheese

Method: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the spring onions and cook gently for a few minutes until soft.
  3. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, until it has wilted.
  4. Leave to cool and chop the mixture roughly.
  5. Lightly beat the eggs, milk and melted butter in a bowl to combine.
  6. Pour the egg mixture in to a 12 hole muffin tin. Each one should be about 2/3 full.
  7. Add a little spinach to each, then a little cooked fish, ham or bacon, and finish with grated cheese.
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes until puffed and golden.
  9. The parcels will sink a little bit as they cool but that’s ok.

 

Mini egg and veg muffins

These egg and veg muffins offered another simple recipe to get lots of veggies in.
 

What to buy and other tips

It took me a while to track down plain rice cakes. I eventually found these in Boots.

Low salt stock cubes

100% nut peanut butter

Weaning yoghurts with no added sugar, which I used as something a bit different from plain and Greek yoghurt.

When Tall Boy’s front teeth came though he loved chicken drumsticks (I used to pull off any loose bits of bone as he was eating them) and corn on the cob.