Saturday, 4 August 2012

Tea for two: cooking for baby and toddler

Since my baby daughter moved into stage two of weaning, it's made mealtimes a lot easier to plan and coordinate with what the rest of the family is eating. I've called this post 'cooking for baby and toddler' but really it's cooking for baby and the rest of the family, as we all eat the same generally.

However, I wanted to talk a little about our eating routine for baby and toddler, as sometimes mealtimes can be a challenging part of the day and especially dinnertime, when everyone is getting tired. I will also give some meal suggestions that are easily adapted to something a baby from around seven months could eat.

My daughter (she's 9 months old now) had been eating her dinner at 5pm and my son would eat his at 6pm, when I would often be feeding my daughter the last bottle of milk for the day. Then just this week I decided to move my daughter's dinner time half an hour later and my son's half an hour earlier so they can eat dinner together. It's made such a pleasant difference!

My son loves eating dinner at the same time as his little sister and I'm sure she enjoys getting to watch her big brother eat while she does too. For me, it makes that time of day calmer and while my daughter is happily eating, it's easier for my son and I to chat.

Stage two of weaning is when you start to introduce texture into baby's food and a great way to do this is by incorporating grains with pureed or mashed vegetables, beans, lentils etc. Here are some family meals that you can easily adapt for baby:

Risotto - I made butternut squash risotto recently. I chopped and roasted small chunks of the squash to add to the arborio rice once it was nearly cooked. For my daughter, I steamed and pureed some of the squash and stired it into the cooked rice.

Quinoa / couscous with roasted veg - again, simply mash or puree the vegetables for baby and stir into the quinoa / couscous.

Dips  - this is a lunch favourite for us at the moment. We all eat the same dip (this week's was a butter bean and tomato dip) so it makes life very easy. My son and I will dip in things like carrot, cucumber, pitta bread or toast. My daughter will have the same but without the crunchy carrot and I'll give her the inner part of the cucumber with no skin.

Omelette - neither of my children liked scrambled eggs when I first tried them and at a guess I'd say the texture is a bit odd compared to the other foods they are used to eating early on. My son loves them now of course and no doubt my daughter will in time. So, I choose to make omelette instead as a way to eat eggs and it goes down well. I grated carrot, courgette and cheese into one I made this week and served with new potatoes.

Pasta -  a perennial favourite amongst children, pasta is another quick easy meal to prepare for the whole family. Make a sauce of your choice, maybe take some aside and blend for baby and then cook smaller pasta shapes for baby too.

Rice and lentils - you could make a lightly spiced dahl or just a simple lentil mixture with finely diced onion, carrot, celery, some chopped tomatoes and herbs. Blend the lentils for baby and combine with the rice.

What family meals do you like to make that are easy to adapt for baby too?
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