Isla turned six months, we bought a brand new high chair, and decided to give it a go. It didn’t stay sparkling white for long… 😛
A little while ago I came across the fabulous One Handed Cooks blog, full of recipes perfect for little fingers and busy mums. One of the first recipes I tried for my little spoon feeding boycotter was the Chew-me Oat Fruit Bars. As soon as they were out of the oven, she devoured three big fingers of it straight away! They have been a big hit and I have made them a ton of times since – in fact, I like to pretty much always have them to hand, they have become a staple. They are so quick to throw together and are great for afternoon snacks or even a hand-held breakfast. I also love that it is a way to get oats into her, with all their folate containing goodness.
Bubba has always preferred finger food, but she has been pretty much refusing spoon feeding altogether lately. So I decided to come up with a way to get the iron-enriched baby cereal into her and this recipe seemed the perfect vehicle. So this is my adaptation of the recipe, with a few other tweaks based on what I have in the cupboard and my general laziness (I hate grating things, hence no grated apple as per the original recipe!). The original recipe is also wonderful as is!
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup iron enriched baby cereal (Farex or the like – I use Rafferty’s Garden)
1/2 cup wholemeal flour
3/4 cup dried fruit (I use whole sultanas, or a mix of sultanas and chopped dried apricots)
1 overripe banana
2 tbsp bran (I put this in for fibrous, poo-promoting goodness)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 cup milk
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. Put all ingredients in a bowl and mash/mix with a fork until combined. Seriously, just chuck it all in at once. I don’t even beat the egg first.
3. Pour into (baking paper lined) slice tin and cook until firm to touch – in my oven, this is about 30 minutes.
4. Cool and cut into fingers.
Not only is this recipe quick and easy, it’s very forgiving and fun to play around with. If you’d prefer them without the baby cereal, just substitute in an extra 1/2 cup of rolled oats, as per the original recipe. I’m thinking of trying it with blueberries or raspberries in place of the dried fruit – yum!
Let me know if you try this recipe – or come up with any of your own variations!
I found this banana bread recipe when looking for healthy finger foods to make for my 9 month old baby (original recipe here). I like the recipe because I like to give my baby good, wholesome food – I liked that every single ingredient in this was healthy and I was able to make it without any added sugar.
I made this with honey instead of sugar. If you’re used to very sweet food, you may like to make this with sugar, possibly even extra sugar. However, I found myself going back to this bread myself for a very satisfying and guilt free snack.
It certainly passed muster with my harshest critic, who absolutely devoured it. I should add the caveat that my little guts will devour most anything… but I do think she especially enjoyed this bread!
Ingredient Set 1:
2 cups flour (I used wholemeal, use whatever flour you like!)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp soda
1 tsp baking powder
Ingredient Set 2:
3 large very ripe bananas (about 1 1/2 cups) – mashed
1/2 cup brown sugar (or replace with 1/3 cup unsweetened fruit juice concentrate ormaple syrup or honey)
1/2 cup milk
zest of a lemon or orange (optional – I omited this, must try it next time!)
2 tsp vanilla or 1 Tbsp dark rum (obviously I chose the vanilla for my baby!)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (I omitted this for bubba)
1/3 – 1/2 cup dark chocolate pieces (I omitted but must try it!)
1/2 cup chopped dates (I actually used prunes to help with bubbas bowels, actually tasted pretty good and lent a good sweetness to the loaf)
1. In two separate bowls, combine the two ingredient sets (a dry mixture and a wet mixture).
2. Mix the wet and dry mixtures together until just combined.
3. Fold in the optional extras, if desired.
4. Pour into a greased and/or lined loaf tin.
5. Bake at 180 C for about 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
6. Leave in the pan for 10 minutes then place on a rack to cool.
There you have it – an easy, healthy snack easily adaptable to your tastes and/or your baby’s!
I believe in evidence based parenting. This means making each decision along the way on the back of your own independent research, not just because it is “the done thing” or because other people do it or someone told you so. This external influence can come from all directions, which is why I think it is dangerous to label your parenting style. Whether you consider yourself a “mainstream mum” or a “natural parent” or whatever other labels are out there, there is a danger of making choices based on what the current buzz topics in your circle are, rather than your own independent thinking.
This was brought home to me by the issue of solids. I considered myself a baby-led mum, striving to take an instinctive approach and make choices based on what was developmentally appropriate for my baby, taking her cues. Nothing wrong with that in and of itself. Therefore, the idea of baby led weaning seemed logical and appropriate to me. The basic tenets of this philosophy are to wait until the baby is sitting unassisted and is able to put food into their own mouth before starting solids. It also rules out purees and the like, advocating giving baby only whole foods in their natural state, such as sticks of soft veggies to start with. Generally, this means waiting until at least 6 months to begin solids. In fact, even the World Health Organisation advises waiting until 6 months to introduce solids.
|Purees are a no-no under the baby led weaning approach|
However, once Bubba reached 4 months, I started to get the feeling she would like to try some food and was ready for it. No she was not sitting unassisted (still isn’t) and wasn’t stealing food from our plates, but I still got an instinctive feeling from her that it was something she would like to try.
So I started to do my own research, using Google Scholar and focusing on medical journals and research. I was interesting to find that the WHO recommendation to delay solids until 6 months is actually based on very limited research. In fact, the main conclusion I draw from their evidence is actually that it is detrimental to introduce solids before four months of age. This study found that later introduction of solids did not have a protective effect against allergies, and this study actually found that delaying introduction of cereal grains until after 6 months may actually increase the risk of wheat allergy. If you are wanting to extended breastfeed, this study found that “breastfeeding duration was not associated with infants’ age at introduction of solids.”
This 2009 literature review sums it up neatly:
Recommendations in developed countries of reducing this risk [of developing food allergies in children] by avoidance of allergenic foods until the child is of varying ages past 6 months have been challenged by recent population studies. Where the risk of allergy is a key consideration, currently-available research suggests that introducing solids at 4-6 months may result in the lowest allergy risk. When all aspects of health are taken into account, the recommended duration of exclusive breastfeeding and age of introduction of solids were confirmed to be 6 months, but no later. (Anderson, Malley & Snell, 2009).
My overall conclusion from my research on the topic was that 4-6 months was an ideal window to begin slowing introducing my baby to solid food. For me the focus was on fun and the experience of tastes and textures, not giving her a “meal” per se. And really, for me, I feel happy with this approach. We don’t wait until a baby can put the boob in her own mouth before we give her breastmilk. Being baby-led is all well and good, but at the end of the day, babies are unable to do a lot of things for themselves that we do for them until they develop the ability to do it themselves. As parents we have to make a lot of decisions on behalf of our children every day.
I have absolutely nothing against baby led weaning and think it can be wonderful choice for many families. I still intend to incorporate some of these principles when Bubba gets to about 6 months. I do believe in the value of babies handling food in its original state, not always mushed to oblivion.
But for now, we are really enjoying mushed food. Right from the start, Bubba has enjoyed exploring food and has never coughed, gagged or spat food out, which to me was a good indication to continue. In fact, she very quickly learnt what the spoon was all about and began excitedly kicking her legs and opening her mouth when she saw it. As soon as she stops opening her mouth for more, I stop the feeding.
Basically, my main conclusion from all this was the importance of allowing yourself to be led by your baby. So I guess, in a way, I do believe in “baby-led weaning”, but not in the sense that the baby has to do everything itself. Rather in the sense that you can trust your mother’s intuition on what your baby is ready for. Some babies under 6 months may gag, spit or get upset when tried on solids – I consider this a good indication to wait a little longer. But if you feel your baby over 4 months is ready for a little taste, I don’t think there is any harm in it, and there may actually be some good. Above all, trust your baby – if you can attune to their form of communication, they will tell you what they are happy with and what they aren’t.