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!
I love falafel and quinoa! Don’t know if I’ve ever had them together! 😀
Wow! Green smoothie popsicles! 😀
Thank you so much for all these ideas! It’s disgusting and sickening the kind of junk that companies put in *children’s* food!
Uh, is it weird that this seems like a helpful guide to an adult that’s trying to move from vegetarian to vegan? I took a lot of notes reading this. ?
Haha, no, but it is kind of funny! 🙂
This post is everything! I’m always racking my brain to figure out more easy meals for my one year old (we are vegetarian too). Feel like we rotate the same few things and I love the new ideas!
A favorite of ours is the lentil pasta – she LOVES it and I don’t feel bad about giving her pasta all the time because it’s 100% lentils (I think the brand we’ve used is tolerant).
What veggies do you rotate? I always feel in a veggie rut – we do a lot of steamed broccoli, green beans, peas, sweet potato and butternut squash. Any other favs?
Yes, those are great pasta options too! Lola likes all those you said and also asparagus and cauliflower and carrots. She’s not as into peppers for some reason, but I bet if I seasoned them differently she would be!
Yay! I’m so excited you posted all these! I’ve been an “experimental vegan/vegetarian” but as of late, I’ve been leaning more towards a 100% plant based diet, especially since having a little one and wanting her to get the best start possible with her diet and lifestyle. These recipes and tips are super helpful!
Yay! Give it a try! We really like it
It took me a little navigating after the name change but I’m happy to say I found your blog with a little help from Google! 🙂
Even though I am not vegan, I pretty much have a plant based diet + some meat thing going on. I prefer most meals be loaded with veggies and plant-based goodness and not be from a box. So, these ideas are super helpful for me!
Could you also add which vitamins are you giving her? Or how often do you feed her meat to get some B12 in?
We supplement with methylated B12 at times (she and I have a slight MTHFR gene mutation which makes the methylation part important) and daily probiotics. We also sometimes do some extra C, D, and methylated folate at times to boost her immune system when we think it’s needed and we work with her pediatrician and a plant-based MD on supplementation and dietary decisions. She does have some animal protein but it’s about 5% of her diet (and we also cook with nutritional yeast that has B12 in it). Of course, every person needs to work with their own doctor and do their own research since every body had different needs and a different history!
I’m interested in whether you feed Lola a completely vegan diet or if you include some fish/dairy/meat for her too? I’m in the UK and the official NHS advice here seems to be that vegetarian for babies and small children is totally fine but that veganism isn’t recommended because there are nutrients that are hard to gain without dairy/fish and children need some much protein.
The NHS can be quite out of date in its recommendations and I know you’re very thorough in your research so I’d love to know what you’ve concluded and if you include any supplements or anything?
For a more complete look on plant based diets and protein, you can ready the “How Not To Die” book that I link in the post where I talk about why we eat this way:
We do supplement with B12 and a few extra things when her body needs an immune boost but we also include about 5-10% of animal protein in our general diet so that’s why I say we are mostly plant-based 🙂
We also have an MD who is of a plant-based mindset that we consult with on dietary matters and that’s very helpful as well!
I don’t have children yet (hopefully soon!) but I’ve already been learning about baby led weaning, and I eat mostly plant based so I’m pinning this! Excellent tips and links. I recently found this recipe for vanilla chia pudding, and found it really delicious. I haven’t had great luck with other chia puddings, but I think because this one uses cashews maybe it’s creamier. Anyway it’s so tasty. Maybe little Lola would enjoy. http://amychaplin.com/2012/01/13/vanilla-chia-pudding-with-berries-and-a-chocolate-version/
Thanks for the recipe—looks so good!
Love this post–thank you!
We’ve been doing baby led weaning with our almost one year old for the last six months, but I’ve been searching for some variation. So, thank you!
What brand of B12 do you use for Lola? Do you give her any omegas? Do you know of any resources about plant-based baby nutrition? Haven’t found anything on Dr. Greger’s site.
Our daughter loves these sippy cup bottles by Pura. We use this small size with a sippy top.She drops it all the time–dents, but doesn’t break!
We use this one but we also have her pediatrician and a plant-based MD that we work with on any supplementation choices/dosage so I would suggest that for anyone else! We try to add flax seed to our food daily for more Omegas (super easy to put in pancakes and oatmeal at breakfast). It’s so hard to find plant-based info for kids/pregnancy so I would use websites like this to find a MD in your area to consult with on diet…that’s what I did when I was frustrated by the lack of focus on kid’s diets:
Thanks for the cup recommendation! Those look great!