I’ve been saying for months that I was going to write this post and I finally did! It can feel really challenging to figure out what to feed a baby if it’s your first time being a parent (or first time doing Baby-Led weaning) and it seems even more challenging if you like to eat vegan or plant-based like we do most of the time. After we realized that we wanted to try Baby-Led weaning and started our journey with that this fall, it helped me a lot to read what meal ideas others made for their babies so here are a few of our mealtime staples that we gathered over our first 6 months of baby-led weaning in case it’s helpful to you!
Baked Oatmeal fingers:
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ripe mashed banana
2 tablespoon ground flax seed
2 tablespoon chia seed
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
Cook 1 cup of rolled oats according to package directions until they are a little on the dry side (you don’t want them to still appear really wet). Mix in all the other ingredients and press and smooth into an oiled 8″ x 8″ baking pan. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes, flip the oatmeal square over in the pan with a spatula and then bake for at least 10 minutes more. Cut info fingers and store in a container in the fridge.
Tofu Scramble: Just go easy on the spices until you know what they can handle and I don’t use salt and skip the vegan cheese on her portion
Chickpea patties: these are great to make in batches for meals for the rest of the week.
Whole Grain Pancakes: also great to make in batches, skip topping with butter and syrup and add blueberries to the mix.
Red sauce with whole grain fusilli noodles: Still Lola’s favorite meal! This is our favorite red sauce to make by far and the fusilli noodles are easier for them to grasp.
Quinoa Poblano Corn Cakes: recipe from this book (they also have a Southwest Veggie Burger recipe I make for her too)
Rice and bean bowl: mix brown rice with any beans (try and get unsalted beans) in a pot with a little dash of water, heat with some seasonings like cumin, paprika, and chili powder and add some other veggies like tomato, avocado, and cilantro on top when warm.
Baked sweet potato and steamed veggie of choice: cut sweet potatoes longways into 4 big wedges so they bake faster in oven, cover lightly in avocado or olive oil or coconut oil and bake at 375° for 30 min or until soft. You can add spices or a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg before baking. I like to steam veggies in this with about 1″ of water in the pan under it. Once the water boils, I turn it down to a simmer, add the basket with cut veggies, and then simmer with the lid on for 10-15 min until soft. I add some spices onto the veggies in the basket as well (dill is great on steamed veggies).
Avocado or hummus toast: it’s best to toast bread a little bit when first introducing it (although some wait until 1 year of age to add any gluten) since lightly toasted bread is a little easier to eat and won’t stick to the roof of their mouth. Lola like’s to scrape off all the toppings and then eat the bread, but as long as she eats it, I don’t care what order it’s in. Also, make the hummus at home without salt if you can or try and find a low sodium version as there can be a lot of hidden salt in hummus.
Quinoa falafel patties: I do this recipe with flax eggs instead of real eggs and I make them into patties instead of balls so you only have to use a little oil for frying.
Green smoothies: This one I don’t really have a recipe for because there are already a million and one green smoothie recipes on the internet you can find so just choose one you like! If baby can drink through a straw already, then you can just put it in a cup for them to drink (we used this cup to straw-train her recently but you’d probably need to move to more this type of thing for a thicker smoothie) but if they aren’t ready or interested in a straw yet, you can pop your smoothie mixture into these and make popsicles! Lola finishes a popsicle that’s too packed with greens for my taste in a matter of minutes so it’s been a great trick for us.
The “I-Have-No-Idea-What-To-Make” meal: This is basically when you are out of ideas or brain power to create something clever and you just open some beans, add spices, and pair it with steamed/baked/raw veggies. It feels like a total cheat meal since it takes such little effort but it’s still good for her so no guilt here! I always keep some type of bean (black and chic peas are good ones for Lola) in the pantry and veggies so that this is always an option.
Just a few general tips! Go slow with spices, add a little at first and then more and more as you see they can handle it. We pretty much do a fruit desert at every meal and try to do different things each time so she gets a variety of fruit throughout the week. If she’s ever not interested in eating a new food or a food I know she likes, if we take a few bite of her food and show that we really enjoy it, she almost always starts eating it immediately so that trick usually works on her. The overall end goal of Baby-Led Weaning is that they are eating the same meal that you are so they have a wide range of tastes and you don’t have to cook two things each meal, so sometimes the above meals were things we were all eating (with the salt and spice level adjusted on her portion) and other times we wanted to eat something she couldn’t handle yet so we would make her a different thing.
If you are new to Baby-Led-Weaning, you can read more about how we started our journey but I would definitely recommend reading this book before you start so that you feel familiar with all the age appropriate food-guidelines and what foods to avoid until they are older. Hope this was helpful for you!