Friday 16 December 2016

Part 3 - Weaning Foods for babies 6 months and above - Recipes and Combinations


This part of these series of post give some examples of foods, combinations and  tips:

Fruits to mash or puree include:
  • Banana - can be mashed with a fork
  • Apples - cooked in a few spoons of water and blended
  • Mangoes- if ripe enough a fork would do but in the early days i used a hand blender to make it really smooth
  • Pears - cooked like apples
  • Watermelon  - make sure  the seeds are   removed

Veggies include:
  • Carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, parsnip, Green Peas - steamed/cooked till soft before mashing.
  • Avocados - mashed with a fork.
  • Sweet potato, Irish potato
  • Yam
  • Ripe plantain
  • Beans - cooked till very soft and mashed
  • Lentils ( once these are cooked a good whisking will pretty much mash it up,  this is a good  alternative to beans as they are both in the legume  family and high in  protein and  iron)
  • Spinach or other leafy veg - steamed and blended. ( hold off on the Ugu/ pumkin leaves till maybe  when they are a bit older  as these are a bit  tough,  so may be  harder to digest )

Other foods include
  • Eggs- hard boiled (some will say yolk only till a year old)
  • Toast - cut into strips that baby can hold.
  • Oats - make with water, add some milk (either breast or follow-on) this can be sweetened with fruit purees
  • Baby cereals- baby rice or creamy porridge (when getting cereal, the creamy porridge already has milk in it. So its just to add water. However if getting other cereals you will have to use either breastmilk or mix with formular milk.)
  • Adult cereals with no added sugar/salt like shreddies or even weetabix

Finger  foods:
  • soft  boiled  veg like  carrots cut up  in  small pieces. 
  • chips or fried  yam 
  • lightly buttered or plain toast
  • crackers (jacobs or other brand cream crackers) 

Basically babies over 6 months can eat most things you eat, just cut down on  or omit the pepper, salt and seasoning. although so me babies will eat  peppersoup and  spicy moi-moi with no issues, but its best to cut down on seasoning and  spices in  baby food.

I try to base my lo's meals around what we eat. So if we are having potato and chicken for dinner i boil her own potato and blend it with small chicken and presto!! Her lunch for the next day and freeze the extra in single portion quantities so defrosting is easy and you only use what you need per meal.

Below are  a few  tips I have helped me. 

Swallow: Pounded yam, amala, semo with draw soup - finely chopped okra seems to be a hit.   i have  also found out that  i can  freeze  pounded yam and  amala ( have not  tried with  semo or  other  swallows)  this saves you  trying to make   baby size portions  of   swallow.

To warm a  frozen swallow, bring out  from the freeezer and allow to defrost in the  fridge either  partially or  fully.  but in a covered bowl and  steam  for  about  30 minutes minimum.  mix  with a  spoon and  leave  to   heat up  fully to pipping  hot and   normal consistency is  regained.

Rice: you may want to avoid rice if your baby is very young  or at least until your baby is used to eating . you can  either use baby rice  as it is already  ground up for babies  just being introduced to  solids, or  if making rom scratch, make sure it is  a  bit "soggy"  so that it is easy to mash.   

To make rice  soggy / easy to mash you can take some already cooked rice (white, fried, jollof, coconut.... whatever. )  add a  like  a  tablespoon or  two of water ( per  heaped tablespoon of rice)  and put in your steamer to re-cook  for like 15 - 30 mins. the rice  absorbs  the water and depending on how much you add,  a  good  beating with  a fork will  make it  pretty   mashed up

Beans  -  i cook  beans  as  normal  and remove my baby's before i add the palm oil and pepper.  young  babies cannot  digest  the bean skins and it  all comes out in their  poo (very nasty business), so you  should  pass it  through a  wire mesh sieve with  a  spoon to separate the skin and leave a  very fine  puree.  works very well with  boiled  plantain or  sweet potato... yum!

Oats- blend it raw into a near powder constitency to remove the lumpiness before cooking as usual. I then mixed it with mashed banana or other sweet puree. I my opinion - no milk is needed as it is very sweet  with banana.

 Blend  raw oats to make it  smooth.  use the chopper attachement  in your food processor

Differernce in textures - smoother oats  has less lumps especially for  younger babies

Mixed sweet peppers:  i very finely chop or blend red & orange bell peppers with a small onion - steam it to cook it( like cooking moi-moi in a plastic container and freeze portions in an ice cube tray. When frozen, pop them out into a bigger container to store and use individual cubes as required. this is  quite  a nice  sauce base,  add a  couple of teaspons of  blended  tomato or a  small knob  of tomato puree  to give you a  stewy type  base.

Cereals:  Any cereal with no added sugar or salt is ok for a baby to have, you can blend  it  to  make a powder for  younger  babies and leave  some   lumps in  for  older  children. cornflakes, rice crispies, weetabix, cheerios are  just some  that can be used especially once they clock 1 year! 

You can make your own sweetener for cereals, all you need are some  dried  ( soft)  fruits like raisins, sultanas, apricots  and even dates check the baking section of local supermaket). 
 You can also add some prepared nuts if you are sure your baby has no allergies,chopped  hazelnuts,  sliced/ ground almonds  and even dessicated  coconuts (the ones  with no added sugar - please read the labels) can be used as well. 
Ensure the fruits are  clean (especially for  dates  which are  not  properly packaged or sold by your local mallam)  wash them if necessary ,pat dry with a clean kitchen towel and allow to  air dry for  a couple of hours., pop them in a  food  processor  or grinder attachement of your blender and  blend ( do not add any water).  you should be  able to store this in an air tight  container for at least a couple of weeks.

you can use this on its own or you can then add this  with fresh fruits like bananas, apple  puree, mango or other fruit  to cereal or  natural yogurt to sweeten it.

Listed  below are food  combinations that I  have been tried, hopefully you will get some ideas from them:

  • Avocado and hard boild egg yolk (  as  baby gets  older you may want to chop  some of the egg whites   in  to add a bit of  texture)
  • Yam and fish with small butter ( with spinach and/or garden egg as an option, also add a bit of  crayfish and  bit of  blended   sweet peppers and onions) 
  • Ripe plantain and fish/meat/poultry
  • Pureed mango, banana or other fruit.( either plain or with baby rice to add bulk)
  • amala  /with blended okra soup with fish
  • sweet corn, beetroot and chicken
  •  yam pottage ( remove before adding oil and pepper and maggi)
  •  pasnips with some optional meat or fish. (  options include  mixing with potato and/or carrots) 
  • carrot, sweet corn and cabbage purree with small knob of butter. 
  • Pasta with mince meat sauce ( or stew with meat- blend afterwards just omit pepper and spices.- you can make her own stew/ sauce seperately and combine with "soggy rice or pasta. ) i also find mixing pasta and rice with maybe carrot/sweet corn/broccoli /other veggie puree help with not making it too tomato-ey.
  • sweet corn, fish and  potato mash
  • mixed peppers with Irish/ sweet potatoes/yam/ even baby rice or very soft rice that i can mash with optional meat/poutry /fish. You can add small knob of butter or teaspoon of sunflower, olive or rapeseed oil if you like.
  • plantain pottage  with ripe and a bit of unripe plantain. 
  • Jollof rice  with some fish or  chicken and some  green peas. 
  • Basmati rice  with potato and   a bit of  curry  ( thai,  indian or any   nice   sauce)
  • Lentils and   boiled  plantains (this is  practically a substitute  for beans and  plantain)
  • Beans, plantain and  baby rice  (  this  was  as  a result of having put to much water when i added  uncooked  plantain to my already pureed beans.... i then added a  scoop of baby rice to remedy the situation!) 
I will keep updating this  list as we  experiment with new foods and new combinations.  however i will do a different post/ rant on my experience with baby rice and how it  turned from a  hated item to  one of by baby  food staples.

Thanks for reading and happy cooking!

Saturday 10 December 2016

Part 2 - Weaning Foods for babies 6 months and above - General Tips and Ideas


You can start giving water a couple of weeks before you intend to introduce solids. I did that purely because i wanted to start my lo at meal times with a cup instead of a sippy cup or bottle. So we had some training with a cup prior to the actual start of weaning, so we are not struggling with too many new things at the same time.
For the actual food, start with one meal a day and gradually work up to 3, within a month or 2. You are essentially substituting a solid meal for a usual breast feed or formular. Fruit, Veggies or cereal doesn't really matter.

Start with smooth mash/pureed and after a  couple of  months graduate to mashed with soft lumps before going for chopped-up soft pieces by the time baby is about a year.

Single flavours of fruit or veg are preferable at the start as it is easier to spot and identify any allergies to any foods as opposed to offering a mix of food and not knowing what they are reacting to. 

Also focus more on the veggies as it may take a while for babies to get used to the new taste. The fruits are naturally sweet so babies tend to take these easier.

Begin with a time that works best for you. I am not a morning person so i couldn't start weaning in my morning zombie mode! So we did it at lunchtime which was anytime between 12:00 and 15:00

If you want to also do baby led weaning later on and give finger foods, i would say do it just before they have their evening bath as it can be quite messy.

Just a few teaspoons at the start is considered a success. Then offer baby's usual milk afterwards. This way as they eat more solids, they drink less milk.

Also don't do it when the babies are super hungry or cranky as you will be wasting your time.

If the baby is already whimpering or crying offer breast or milk first, and then solids afterwards.
As a rough guide the timetable below was when we had established 3 meals a day:
6:00 - 7:30 Wake up/ early morning milk feed
8:30 - 9:30: breakfast - cereal/ fruit puree
11:00 - 11:30: milk feed
13:00 - 13:30 : lunch - usually containing meat or fish with a puree afterwards some times.
15:00 - 15:30 : milk feed
17:30 - 18:00: dinner - depending on my lazyness factor but mainly veg based.
18:30 -19:30 : milk feed after bath
20:30 - 21:30 : final milk feed before bed

You can tweak to suit yourself. I try to give fruit at least once a day. If we dont have it with our breakfast cereal, we have it as second course at lunch or we use it at dinner time with some baby rice.
At about 7 months i introduced formula especially for our last night feed as i noticed my little madam usually sleeps off on the breast. So i wanted to break that habit. She has her bottle of formula, burp and i put her down to sleep. After loads of rolling about she finally sleeps.

Then I gradually substituting one of the breast milk feeds to formula or expressed milk from a bottle. So in the first 2 weeks for instance, her 11:00 ish pre nap feed was substituted with formular, after about 2 -3 weeks, i will substitute another of her breast feeds at another time.... say afternoon nap feed. And so on and so forth
By 8 months we were down to breast feeding only 3 times a day, early morning, lunch time and after evening bath. I started giving bottle for her last feed as well as i wanted to break the habit to nursing to sleep.

At 9 months it was down to 2 feeds a day, and it wasnt a set feed. If she work up late, we skipped the morning feed and did it at lunch time for instance, and at other times we gave formular instead at lunch time or after her bath.
By 10 months the feed were pretty much random, sometimes once a day, sometimes twice. And when we decided to stop i started taking a small bottle of dry formular to bed, with hot water in a flask. If she wakes very early and is fussy, she has this. If not, we have normal breakfast.

We also have beaker of water so if she wakes at night, i give her some water and pat her back to sleep, she has to cry, tears, catarrh and saliva cry to get a night milk feed. ( Brutal I hear you say but it has worked for me, as we say in Naija-speak "I cannot come and go and die")

Some cooking tips:
For meat or poultry, i just pick a piece out of my usual pot when it is boiled. Remove skins, and any fatty bits before blending/ grinding. For fish i just steam a piece when i need to.

for other foods I take my baby's food out of the main pot before i add salt, stork cubes (maggi, knorr, ajino and the likes), pepper and  palm oil if the  recipe calls for it. So things like, beans, yam, spinach, amala, poundo, okra were introduced. 

This is so that she gets used to the household food. ( as i dont want her to go and get used to cauliflower cheese from hipp and the like meanwhile amala and yam  is the  menu  for the rest of the  household. I cant set myself up for future food drama. My policy is one house - one pot) so far it has  worked. 

To blend any food, you probably need to add a few spoons of water to blend.  if it gets  to waterry, dont  worry you could  thicken it back up with some baby rice or mashed  potato.  it  wont  change the taste. 

After mashing or blending i store in small individual serving quantities, so i can mix and match on the day as i feel.  For younger  babies  this  can be  the size of  ice cube,  for an older baby a  small bowl with a  tight cover  will do for  complete meals.  
If you are  making  frozen ingredients   to be  mixed later for example  potato only,  mixed  peppers or  carrots only  you may want to stick to an ice tray for freezing . Remember to wrap your  ice tray  in cling film, before  freezing, and make sure it is at the top shelf of the freezer, and not  with any raw meat or fish  products. (we don't want contamination and food  poisoning)

To prepare the food i just pop what i want onto a container, cover it and steam until heated through.( trying to reduce my use of microwave for baby food)

Also i got a few glass jar baby foods ( heinz and cow& gate  or orders), so i reuse the glass jars and covers to steam the food in when i can, so i also reduce my use of plastic to heat food in as much as i can. As glass is inert and doesn't leach out any nasties when subjected to heat as some plastics do!.

Then also some cow and gate  or  other brand food jars. Just a few for out and about days or when food inspiration fails me.

Please do not leave babies alone un-supervised with food at any time. Choking is a real hazard and a  quick response can  save  lives.  

Part 3 will discuss some recipes and combinations and how to manage some baby sized portions.

Thanks for reading!

Part 1 - Weaning Foods for babies 6 months and above - Supplies

Hi  there!

Following  some of  my posts on the NairaLand (NL) Forum  regarding   weaning  food ideas,   I have  decided to collate all I have posted  as  means of  creating an  archive  of  sorts  as it can be  quite  tricky trying to find the  right post on NL,   so   for   new and old   "newborn thread   followers" and  any others looking for tips   for what  to  feed  their  babies,    here are a  few tips.

here  we  go.

These  are  food ideas    for  babies  that are  6 months+,  and   the  menu is varied  to include  both western  and Nigerian  cuisine. 

First  of all  lets look at  some  supplies you may need these are not essential, however  they do make  life far easier:

There are baby food blenders which are essentially mini blenders.... and some can be quite pricey. I think they are an unnecessary gadget  especially if you have other alternatives... save your money to use on other stuff.

What i found works for me is a hand held blender.... i got one few years back and its been gathering dust until now.... so glad i didn't throw it out!

I just put what needs to be blended in large high sided mug, add some water if needed and pop it in till I get the consistency I need.  its really good for small portions blending or making purees. You just need a piece of kitchen towel to hold over to prevent splashes. This is an alternative to a specialized baby food blender. 

Its a very versatile tool as you can also use it to blend other stuff as well other than baby food as well as blend quantities both tiny and large that a normal blender wont handle. I got mine to make  soups in one of my culinary adventure modes.

Oh! you can also try using the chopper attachment that comes with some blenders (the small bit used to grind egusi/ogbono/ pepper at home) although it will need to be washed well to get any pepper or previous food residue out. You will need to add some water and blend in short bursts

a mash bowl can also be used, as  it  is a small  bowl with a  pestle-like  attachment  that you can used to mash up really soft  baby food.

An electric food steamer to heat up food is also very useful, or as an alternative you can get a small pot version of a  steamer  that  goes on your  cooker or a steamer insert to use with your normal pot. ( we  cant  let lack of  electricity  spoil our   groove.) 
plastic  plate  or  preferably a bowl.  it  should be  small enough to hold comfortably and securely with one hand.  this is very handy if you are  feeding baby  off your  lap. 

Electric  steamer

Steamer  insert  to  use  with   a  normal pot

Silicone ice cube trays. To freeze excess baby food.  silicone is preferable as  it makes removing the  frozen food  loads easier.   I only have one ice tray so i sometimes just twist a teaspoon or tablespoon of the prepped food in some cling film to make a "pellet" and freeze in a container or tie up in bag. 

Caution: Take care to defrost (at least) partially to allow the clingfilm come off easily. You don't want specs of film in the food as it breaks easily when frozen. Also make sure you label the containers.... everything tends to look the same when its been frozen

A drink muddler - now this is really not essential, but if you or hubby are into cocktails and have one lying around especially the plastic ones with the spiky base, they are actually fabulous at mashing the odd single portion of baby food.

A silicone bib with the crumb catcher.   this is  easy   to wipe clean and   catches  all the  food and  water that  your  baby  spits and  spills out.    A   wipe-able  bib with  crumb catcher is also useful   for   days out  as  these are  very easy to fold, wipe and  can even wash in the washing machine after  a  few uses. 

Doidy cup, muddler and wipeable bib

Other  things  to have.  include:

A soft tip spoon in the early days, this is  very flexible and  is  gentler on tender gums. 

A doidy cup - if you can find this it is absolutely worth it! This has made our cup drinking so much better and easier. Alternatively you can use a transparent cup, or i sometimes use the cover of the feeding bottle when we are out and about so i can see the level of the water. 

Note: Most disposable cups have a rolled edge but  the   cut end is unfinished and is slightly sharp so be careful if you wish to go down that route as babies cant really control their tongues to avoid them injuring themselves.  

A small  bowl with a   tight  fitting cover  to use in the  steamer,   the lid needs to be  tight to prevent  excess water getting into the  food. it  could  also reserve a few empty glass jars and their covers of baby food if you buy them. They are really handy for use in a steamer. 

I hope this has been useful to you,  Part  2  will  be on general tips before and  during weaning. 

Thanks for reading!