Sunday, 28 December 2014

RECIPE - Peach Crumbles

3 tablespoons plain flour
1 teaspoon ground almonds
1 tablespoon porridge oats
1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (depending on your taste preference)
15g unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon sugar (optional)
6 peach slices (I used tinned in juice, not syrup)

1. Leave the butter out of the fridge until soft
2. Put the flour, oats, almonds and cinnamon in a bowl and stir to mix.
3. Add the butter and 'rub' into the mixture using your thumbs and forefingers until the mixture has turned slightly golden and looks like crumbs. Shake the bowl to bring the big crumbs (unmixed butter) to the surface and repeat until the texture is fine enough.
4. Stir in the sugar (optional) - I added this because I wanted to make a slightly sweet dessert and my peaches were quite tangy. If you're serving it with a sweet custard (I didn't) it's probably not necessary. It's a personal choice on whether you want to give your baby sugar - L rarely has any so I made an exception this time.
5. Chop the peaches and split the mixture across two ramekins
6. Spoon the crumble on top
7. Bake at Gas Mark 4 for 20-25 minutes until golden.

Little Dude is 10 months old and surprised me by eating an entire crumble! He's often not too fussed about fruit and would rather each savoury, so this was a great sucess, particularly as you could substitute the peaches for apples, pears, blackberries etc.

Tag me on Instagram @blwmamuk if you make this!

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

RECIPE - Smokey Bean Pancake Quesadilla

1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tin kidney beans
1/2 tin chickpeas
1/2 teaspoon Basil
1/2 teaspoon Oregano
1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
Handful Grated Cheddar Cheese

Wraps - I used leftover pancakes which were nice and soft. Tortilla wraps would work very well too, although they do contain salt.

1. Tip the tomatoes, washed kidney beans, chickpeas, herbs and spice into a pan.
2. Boil for 5-8 minutes until the beans are warmed through and soft
3. Take the pan off the heat and mash (roughly - no need to make it smooth) 
4. Spread onto your 'wrap' of choice
5. Sprinkle on the cheese
6. Fold in half and grill for 3/4 minutes on each side until slightly crisp.
7. Slice and enjoy!

Little Dude is 9 (almost 10) months old and absolutely wolfed this down, eating two portions. A definite success!

Tag me on Instagram if you make this, I'd love to see how they turn out! @blwmamauk

Saturday, 20 December 2014

First foods for the nervous BLW'er!

If you've read my previous post you'll know that BLW wasn't really my choice, it was Little Dude's. He hates anything being put in his mouth for him; spoon, cup, toothbrush, Calpol syringe (that last one is a nightmare!). Having been geared up to do traditional weaning (aka puree), I was very nervous when I started BLW. On my Instagram feed (@blwmamauk) I've been getting a lot of similar questions:

 'Is this OK for beginners?' (this answer is almost always yes provided the baby is over 6 months!)


'My LO shoves it all in his mouth at once and gags - what do I do?'

The best answer is to do your research and trust your instincts. When we started, L didn't chew anything until he was 7.5 months old so spent a lot of his early meals with food just sat on his tongue until he gagged it out. To reduce the stress (for me - he wasn't bothered by the gagging at all!), I started with foods that were soft, grated and dissolved easily in his mouth. I've listed some of them below to help the fellow Nervy Nellies out there :)

Bear in mind that the ages below are completely individual to L and his personal development. All babies do things at different times and the same is true for their abilities to pick food up, put in their mouth, spit it out, chew it,  and swallow it. Your baby will lead the way. Or trail a bit behind in our case!

Avocado - I started by mushing up with a fork (6 months) and moved to slices that he can pick up and hold (by about 7.5 months) 

Grated Cheddar Cheese -  Soft and quick to melt, plus it comes in different strengths. L likes mature cheese best, just like Mama. At 9.5 months I still give cheese in grated form rather than chunks.
Tuna fishcake and banana

Mashed Sweet Potato - Packed with good stuff and appeals the baby's natural preference for sweet tastes. I add a little unsalted butter before mashing.

Nectarines, whole - One of L's first foods, he was leaning forward in his highchair trying to get at a nectarine I was eating, I peeled off the skin with my teeth, held it to his mouth and he had a good ol' munch!

Grated Carrot - Requires a bit more chewing than cheese but is easily to swallow and nice and juicy.

Omelette - You can start with just egg or add pretty much any veg you fancy. I often throw in red pepper, onion and courgette. Omelette is nice and soft and breaks up easily in little mouths. Egg is a potential allergen though so keep an eye out for any symptoms of this. Having said that, I don't personally know anyone with an egg allergy so assume it's reasonably uncommon.  

Squashed Peas - I squish these with a fork first to reduce any choking hazard though I suspect at 9.5 months I'm probably being overly cautious. Again, nice and sweet and a lovely appealing colour. L always goes for the green things on his tray first for some reason!

Broccoli - This is a classic BLW first food - interesting texture, built-in handle and the little green bits dettach easily. 

And on the flip side, some foods we struggled with at first...

Bread - L just seemed to gum this into a claggy, sticky mess which plastered itself to the top of his palette and stubbornly stayed there. Cue Mummy trying to coax it out with drinks of water and the odd finger sweep (note - this is NOT recommended. I only did it a couple of times in desperation but there is a risk of you pushing it further in and causing a choking hazard). Toast crusts baked in the oven for crispness worked much better for us.

Weetabix - I do give this now at 9.5 months but again, it gets quite thick and lumpy and L sometimes struggles with it even now. Adding more water loosens it up but also makes it difficult for him to hold.

Banana - I've since discovered the 'bananas in pyjamas' technique where you leave the banana in its skin, with about a centimetre removed so the skinned banana forms a handle and the exposed flesh sticks out the top. Initially I gave half a 'naked' banana (didn't expect to ever type that!) which goes slippy and difficult to hold very quickly.

Cornflakes - L loves these and can pick individual flakes up very well. Unfortunately they make him gag loads (I guess they stick to his mouth) so we're taking a break for now. I'll try them again in a few weeks to see if he's mastered the technique.

Which foods did you give first?

Sunday, 7 December 2014

An introduction...

Hello and Welcome! 

It's now June 2015 and we're almost a year into our weaning journey! I recently re-wrote this post for Yummy Mummy's World so I'm posting the updated version here....

Little Dude has always had his own ideas when it comes to food. Our breastfeeding journey was extremely challenging and although we battled through for four months - when he finally decided to stop latching altogether - I still feel a little disappointed that we didn’t get it ‘right’. Introducing solids felt like a fresh start and I was determined to fill my beautiful firstborn’s rapidly expanding tummy with delicious, home cooked purees. Yes, you read that right!

We started with traditional weaning when Little Dude was five months old. Despite a healthy appetite for milk his little tum was rumbling between feeds and he showed plenty of interest in what Mama and Daddy were eating so I figured he was ready. Given that he barely ate a crumb for the first two and a half months, he probably wasn’t. Regardless, I lovingly batch cooked all the usual purees - apple, pear, sweet potato, broccoli, parsnip - and steadfastly popped L into his Bumbo twice a day. What followed was several weeks of me desperately waving a spoon in his direction while he even more desperately wiggled out of the way and bellowed at me. You've got to give it to the little fella – he definitely knows his own mind.

I'd heard about Baby Led Weaning and quite honestly I thought it sounded pretty terrifying. Giving real food to my tiny baby who still managed to choke on his milk half the time? No chance. Instead I made a seemingly endless list of excuses: he didn’t like the taste of that particular puree. Maybe it was too cold or too hot. Perhaps I’d used the wrong spoon. He wasn’t comfy in his Bumbo that day. He was too hungry or not hungry enough. He was too tired, too playful, too cuddly. After a month of his complete refusal to be spoon fed, I reluctantly put the cutlery down and picked up my secret weapon: an avocado.

We started very slowly. Although everything I’d read about BLW suggested that babies are physically capable of handling ‘proper’ food from 6 month and up, I was very nervous about the possibility of choking. The gag reflex was unnerving at first but is a completely normal part of the learning process and drastically reduced within a few weeks as he learned to move the food around his mouth. At first I offered sticks or bite sized pieces of soft food like avocado or steamed carrot and things that dissolved in his mouth like sweet potato mash or grated cheese. Certain foods I’d expected to be perfect for starting out didn’t work for us at all – banana was too sticky and made him gag while toast fingers got cemented to the roof of his mouth and stayed there for half an hour while I wondered what on earth I was supposed to do about it. Other foods that I’d expected him to hate seemed to be firm favourites; broccoli, sprouts, and lentils were all eagerly explored. Even my husband won’t eat some of those! 

Every day we both learned a little more and it wasn’t long before I was serving him hearty home cooked food like chicken casserole, chilli con carne and stir fried veg. Even wet foods that don’t seem to naturally lend themselves to BLW are no match for determined little fingers and a carb-heavy accompaniment like pasta, cous cous or mashed potato (to soak up the juice). Sure, my kitchen walls were regularly plastered with mashed potato and there was always Weetabix in our hair but we were having fun. One of the things I credit to BLW is Little Dude’s fantastic pincer grip. He mastered this very early by picking up grains of rice, pieces of pancake, Cheerios… even if it was just so he could drop them triumphantly over the side of the high chair.

It hasn’t all be plain sailing. L was 7.5 months old before he actually started chewing and swallowing his food rather than popping it into his mouth and just spitting it out again. Since then we’ve had food strikes, changing tastes, mess (lots and lots of mess) and the ultimate challenge - eating out without leaving a trail of destruction behind us. It’s been totally worth it though; there is something so wholesome and satisfying about sitting down to a family roast dinner on a Sunday when we’re all eating exactly the same thing. The clue really is in the name – let your baby lead the way and everything else will follow.

Top Tips:
  • Research, research, research. ‘Baby Led Weaning’ by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett is fantastic because it explains the different stages babies go through when learning to eat. ‘Weaning Made Easy’ by Dr Rana Conway is another good one for explaining the reasons behind weaning guidelines and recommendations, particularly around what age to start
  • Attend a paediatric first aid course so you know how to react in the unlikely event that your baby chokes. I booked onto one run by a Private Health Visitor but my local Surestart Children’s Centre runs them too.
  • Dedicate a freezer drawer to baby food and cook in batches. That way you can offer a variety of flavours at each meal without spending hours on food prep – the key is to offer different things and let your baby choose what to eat
  • Trust your instincts. If you want to start slowly with bite size foods or just one flavour, do it. You know your baby best.

Some more 'official' resources on weaning: