👨🍳Trained Chef & Pregnancy Meal Specialist
Dad to Basti, with another on the way
Lover of cooking, swimming and running after my son on his scooter 🛴
From day 1, I’ve always tried to keep my children interested in food and I love seeing how their interest in food develops. For example, for the first few months, a newborn baby pays no attention to the fact you put food in your mouth three times a day (or more!). But around 4 months, something clicks and they start realising what you’re doing and beginning to reach for food or plates themselves. We used to seat my eldest at the table when he was a baby so he could see us eating and with my youngest, who’s now 5 months we did exactly the same, hoping he would be interested in seeing his older brother eat.
Once we’d navigated the first 2-3 weeks of trying different pureed vegetables and finger foods, we were ready to start including our children at the family table. So they eat what we eat, no exceptions. Here are my top tips for cooking family friendly food when you have a weaning baby at your table.
- Pack as many flavours and herbs in as you can: you want to expose your children to different tastes to develop their palate. Add the oregano and basil to the bolognese or the tarragon to the chicken. Don’t think that just because they’re young that bland food is the way forward. (although of course no salt or anything spicy!)
- Deliberately eat the same food each mealtime: let your children see you eating and enjoying what’s on your plate. Try to eat slowly so you’re not both sitting there with empty plates five minutes in!
- For very young weaners: you’re obviously removing their food from the pan and pureeing it. Therefore, fill those dishes with as many vegetables as possible – it’s good for them and good for you, too!
- If you’re serving pasta: go for fusilli as the sauce clings really well, meaning they’ll take in more flavour. If I’m making spaghetti, I always break it in half before cooking as I find that most of it is on the floor after a few handfuls, so this way it lasts longer.
- Go wholegrain: serve up wholegrain bread and pasta and brown rice. Get them used to those tastes early on!
- Try and eat a varied diet and a good mixture of fish, meat and vegetables: a lot of people use meal planners at this stage as it makes it a lot easier.
- Be mindful of your ingredients: always check labels for high salt content or additives etc. Use low-salt stock cubes and fresh ingredients.
Moving to the family table is another step along the way in moving from a baby to a toddler. It’s a special time of giving your children independence and should be celebrated accordingly. Go slow and enjoy it!