When she's not feasting on her own delicious foot, P is horsing through solids. After a dodgy start where she'd only eat pureed pear, she now eats almost anything I give her (although she turned up her nose at eggs recently having enjoyed them previously...who knows why).
She's just shy of 8 months old and I introduced solids at 6 months. It's tough work planning and cooking for another mouth! No added salt and no sugar to start obviously but I want to give her nutritious and tasty foods (as well as a variety of flavours and textures) without being chained to the hob.
So, what's P eating these days and what's working for us? I'm taking a relaxed approach to weaning onto solids. It's a mixture of traditional spoonfeeding and new-fangled baby-led weaning. I'd love to hear your comments on this; everyone seems to come at it differently and some switch up their approach on the second or third kids.
Homemade skinny hummus - I spread this on toast or potato farls as a handy baby-led brekkie or evening tea. P's not on a diet; it's only 'skinny' because I leave out the oil you'd expect in hummus. I don't need the oily calories and I think it would be too much for her tummy to manage. I blend a tin of drained chickpeas with lemon juice, a tiny bit of garlic and some cumin and about 20-30 mls of water. It's easy to make and keep in the fridge.
The Happy Pear Beetroot Hummus - this is expensive and it has a small amount of added salt so I limit it. But she LOVES this. I tried to make it as a variation on my hummus above but it was a purple gloopy failure. I'll keep trying. Until then I'm shelling out €4.99 for a tub in my local SuperValu to keep P happy (and looking like this!).
Toasted thin potato farls - These potato breads are delicious and lovely and soft for toothless wonders like herself to suck on. I buy the Rankin and Aldi versons. Almost identical in taste but a vast price difference! 59 cent in Aldi so I stock up when I'm in an Aldi and freeze them. A great quick and tasty breakfast or tea with a variety of toppings or just toasted and plain.
Glenisk baby yoghurts - Ideal to pack for lunches out and about, these are obviously a spoonfeeding food because even my little prodigy isn't feeding herself yoghurt yet. So, if you're a militant baby-led mama these aren't for you (and that's ok!)
Pasta with passata and mashed vegetables - I use organic baby pasta because the pieces of pasta are tiny so she couldn't choke on them. Of course you could use any pasta and chop it up finely! But you know, #lazymumsforthewin. The first time she tried pasta, I had made a beef ragu for lasagne but had set aside a portion for Pearl before any salt or wine was added. It was mince, tomato, garlic, onion and a little pinch of cheese. After the first couple of spoonfuls, she started shaking, opening and closing her mouth quickly and her eyes widened like mad. Obviously I panicked and started thinking about potential allergens in the sauce and whether she needed to go to the GP or straight to Crumlin. I spoke to my Mum and we realised that P was simply showing her appreciation for my amazing cooking and the new taste sensation she was experiencing!
Salmon with mashed sweet potato - Steamed or roasted salmon is so soft and flaky that it's ideal for babies, whether baby-led or spoonfed. P can picki up individual flakedn and feed herself or if we didn't have time that day, she'll devour it mashed with a tasty veg like sweet potato.
Porridge made on milk or breastmilk - no explanation required. Quick, inexpensive, filling, nutritious. Don't judge me but I often use breastmilk only because it tastes so good (and everyone knows the spoonfeeding rule 'one for baba, one for mama'). It's like sweet, creamy porridgy manna from Heaven and I'm not ashamed to get high on my own supply.
Cubes of cheddar cheese and slices of soft pear and kiwi - a baby's continental breakfast if you will. Great when I need a coffee and don't have the energy to prepare anything else because someone has been up all night.
Almond/cashew butter (no added salt or sugar) - thinly spread on toast or potato farls, it's a tasty treat for teatime.
She's also exploring different fruits, both mashed up and handheld so she can experience the taste of the fruit and the feeling of feeding herself too. I average about two baby-led meals a day with one old fashioned spoonfeed. Today's spoonfed dinner was chicken, cauliflower and passata with a pinch of cheese. She devoured it.
I also came across the Pip'n'Pear pre-prepared baby meals in Aldi. They're fresh (kept in the fridge near the yoghurt section) and they've no added salt or sugar. The fishy one is yummy and she really enjoys them. Great for a day out when I haven't packed a dinner for her or for an easy evening. PLUS they're an Irish company. Always a bonus.
What's your approach on the baby-led question? Are there any fantastic baby meals out there I'm depriving Pearl of?! Let me know!