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.
Pretty much anything goes here; melon, banana, strawberries, blueberries, satsumas, kiwi fruit, raspberries, halved or quartered grapes, mango, pineapple.
2 large ripe bananas, mashed
8oz self-raising flour
2 beaten eggs
Yeo valley or other small toddler friendly lolly
250g self-raising flour
1/2 level tsp baking powder
25g caster sugar
2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
275ml whole milk
50g unsalted butter
sunflower oil, for cooking
10 heaped tbsp porridge oats
10 tbsp full fat milk
2tsp ground cinnamon
8floz pure apple juice
4oz baby rice
100ml whole milk
1 small banana
1 small fairy cake tin
I used this tomato and basil omelette recipe because it was super easy and Tall Boy loved it.
This 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.
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.
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
1 slice of bread
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.
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.
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.
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
These fish pie bites were great to have in the freezer and serve with veggies.
As with the fish pie bites, I kept these broccoli, chicken and potato bites in the freezer, and served them with veggies.
These pea fritters froze well. I preferred them fresh and Tall Dad and I sometimes ate them with poached eggs.
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
These egg and veg muffins offered another simple recipe to get lots of veggies in.
It took me a while to track down plain rice cakes. I eventually found these in Boots.
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.