Best-selling author and mum of three, Annabel Karmel, has written several books with nutritious recipes for families with young kids. Her latest, Baby-Led Weaning Recipe Book, is designed to support a more flexible approach to introducing solids to babies.
Annabel says you don’t need to choose one way or another with weaning techniques. You just need to find what works for your family and stick with it.
“Baby-led weaning is growing in popularity. It’s a method that forgoes purees and spoon-led feeding and instead, you simply let you baby feed themselves,” Annabel explains. “The ethos behind this is that the baby is given the opportunity to explore a variety of foods, tastes and textures for themselves. So at first the baby won’t be very good with aim, but the more you let your baby experiment, the quicker they will be able to feed themselves properly and it will help develop their hand to eye coordination.”
While it can get very messy, just take a deep breath, lay down protective measures and don’t clean them up until they’re done eating – otherwise they will get annoyed with you.
“It’s all about the baby taking the lead,” she advises.
Listen to Annabel on Kinderling Conversation:
“It’s very important that you choose the right food when you start,” Annabel explains. “You need melt in the mouth textures because a lot of people will worry, quite rightly, about the possibility of a baby choking."
Babies are born with a natural sucking reflex, but they have to learn to swallow. Even if they bite off something, they may not know what to do with it in their mouth. If you start weaning earlier than six months, she suggests to start baby-led weaning with puree foods for this reason.
So you’re now ready and rearing to go? Here are a couple of recipes from Annabel’s book that are good for getting started.
These little balls are a fantastic way to pack in veggies and are ideal finger food. They are also fab for batch-cooking and freezing, in readiness for those busy days. Just pop them in a plastic freezer box, separating each layer with greaseproof paper, and reheat from frozen in the oven or microwave.
- Makes: 15 veggie balls
- Prep time: 30 minutes
- Cook time: 15 minutes
- 1 large white potato (about 440 g/15 oz)
- 40g / 1½oz dried or Panko breadcrumbs
- 50g / 2oz carrot, grated
- 4 spring onions, chopped
- 50g / 2oz brown mushrooms, chopped
- 40g / 1½oz grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sweet chilli sauce
- 1–2 tablespoons plain flour
- 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
- Prick the potato and bake it in the microwave for 7–10 minutes until soft. Leave to cool, then cut it in half and scoop out the flesh – you will need 250 g/9 oz potato.
- Put the cool potato and remaining ingredients (except the flour and the oil) in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until chopped. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, season lightly with salt and pepper (if using) and shape it into 15 equal-sized balls.
- Place the flour in a bowl and lightly coat the balls in flour. Transfer them to plate and chill for 15 minutes.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan until hot. Fry the balls for about 2 minutes until golden all over and heated through. Serve with cucumber sticks and halved cherry tomatoes, or a mayonnaise dip with sweet chilli sauce.
Krispie Chicken Nuggets
It will be hard to go back to shop-bought nuggets after you have tasted these. And check out the secret snap, crackle and pop ingredient!
- Makes: 2-3 child portions
- Prep time: 20 minutes
- Cook time: 15 minutes
- 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
- 45g / 1½oz Rice Krispies
- 1 tablespoon finely grated mature Cheddar cheese
- 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 4 tablespoons plain flour
- 200g / 7oz skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1.5cm / ½ in cubes
- dips, to serve (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6.
- Place half the oil in the bowl of a food processor with the Rice Krispies and grated cheeses and blitz to evenly combine (you may need to stop and scrape the mixture down from the sides of the bowl a couple of times). Alternatively, crush them in a plastic bag with a rolling pin. Transfer the Krispie mixture to a wide, shallow bowl or a large plate.
- Whisk the egg in a small bowl with the milk and mix the flour with a little salt and pepper (if using) and spread it out on a large plate. Grease a baking sheet with the remaining oil.
- Toss the chicken cubes in the flour, dip them in the egg, then coat them in the Krispie coating. Lay them on the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, or until cooked through and crispy, turning them over halfway.
- Serve immediately, with dips if you wish (mayonnaise, tomato sauce).
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