Baby Indy in her BebePOD ready to eat
Amidst all the chaos this year, I can proudly say that during the Covid-19 era I’ve become a first-time mum and…… a chef! Ok, I use the term ‘chef’ lightly, but I have to say I’m rather proud of my accomplishments in the kitchen considering what they were a year ago. If you know me well, you will know I’m a dab hand at beans on toast and sometimes if I’m bothered I’m a whizz at the most basic scrambled egg on top. I LOVE my food, but I can’t cook to save my life and when I do cook or ‘heat-up’ it’s not exactly the most mouth-watering of delicacies. Throw a baby into the mix (not literally) and I feel like I could give Joe Wicks a run for his money.
‘Hold on’ I hear you say… ‘You just said beans on toast was your culinary dish of choice?’ Yes, I did and how dare I compare myself to Joe Wicks… OK, I’m nowhere near as good as him. Obviously. The truth is I’m not a cook or chef, I just have some fine tools which have helped me out along the way, a bit of free time to ‘experiment’ and an attitude to just making what this could be a stressful journey in motherhood as fun as possible.
Firstly, what I will do is give a big shout out to ‘Ella’s Kitchen’. Praise the pouch! Damn, you have made busy parents lives a whole lot easier but unfortunately for my baby, I’m only working part-time on-air right now so I have time to cook…
Honestly, it wasn’t as daunting as they say, the start of our weaning journey. We just went with the flow and looked at parents around us and kind of followed suit. There are two real approaches to weaning and that is baby-led and spoon-fed. Baby-led is pretty much self-explanatory, the baby leads the way into their weaning travels. It involves lots of finger foods (so veggies cut up to finger size pieces for them to grab at and hold) and mashed up foods they can eat using their hands, potatoes, bananas, avocados etc.
Indy is a spoon-fed baby like I said, we just fell into it that way, my partner and I didn’t sit down to discuss what we would do, just one day when she was 5 months gave her some mashed banana and then a pouch and another pouch and so on. With spoon-fed babies, you start with very pureed mixes of fruits and vegetables that will gradually get lumpier over time so babies can explore new textures.
We didn’t mix the two straight away (baby-led and spoon-fed) we wanted to find a balance between both but ever so slowly. Now we are introducing Indy to more finger foods and thicker, chewier textures. We gave her pasta spirals and she does pretty well on them, but she did gag and choke on some soft small broccoli stems I gave her once. She decided to store the pieces in her mouth and then swallow them all at once. I say ‘choke’ but maybe it was more of a vicious gag and I should have left her to ‘work it out’, but panic mode set in when I saw she was in trouble and I helped her. She is slowly getting better with her gag reflex now but I’m not too bothered to switch her over from the purees just yet.
So going back to the pouches, when we established a new feeding routine, I almost felt a bit lazy giving them to Indy non-stop to start with when I had a day a week that could set aside and dedicate to making her up a batch of purees. And that’s what I do now. At the start of the week, I head into my local supermarket and throw a selection of veggies and fruits in my basket. There are SO many recipes you can follow or get ideas online to see what veggies taste good together. I don’t think you can go too wrong. My rule is to have in each batch of purée one strong flavour. Nothing too spicy and salt and sugar should be avoided before your baby is 1-years-old. For example, starting with herbs and aromatic spices are perfect for a little ones taste buds like cinnamon, turmeric, nutmeg, cumin, coriander, clove, basil, dill and rosemary. Indy’s favourite is lots of mint leaves with a pea and avocado purée.
After every meal I like to give Indy a little bit of fruit to mix it up, like a dessert, I suppose. No wonder she is so chubby. Sometimes it’s as simple as blueberries that I crush with a fork or a blend I’ve made up of apples, pears, apricots and peaches. Honestly, I just love seeing Indy’s face when she tries new food or even if I’m feeding her, her regular sweet potatoes, carrot, swede and cod I’ve puréed (another favourite) it’s lush to see her enjoy it and know I’m filling her with a tonne of nutrients. Because I’m the world’s worst cook and have a pretty shocking diet myself, this has been so satisfying for me. At the moment she loves it, thank goodness! It might be the only time in her life that she likes my meals and I’m milking it.
I’m learning about new foods and flavours and it’s great, fulfilling and gratifying as a Mum. Oh yeah, Ella, as much as I love you, this cooking yourself thing is easy on the pocket too. I’m enjoying the process of weaning. There doesn’t need to be a fuss or stress about it. Make it as fun as possible for you and your family. Try not to worry too much and just follow your gut when it comes to feeding your baby! For us, we love spoon-fed, and as well as money-saving it can be less messy, which is great for feeding on the go; as purees can be easily packed and transported and all those brilliant ingredients and flavours which I don’t think she would get if I just gave her a carrot stick to chew on. I’m NO expert but it should be a positive experience when it’s your baby’s food time, so whatever approach you take, follow your instincts and try not to panic and have fun!!
So yeah, a chef my arse! I wing it most days. I create meals in my mind and prepare them. It gives me joy and pleasure. I like the housewife mode; I feel I’m catering for my brood, even though it’s just lots of cutting up into tiny pieces and steaming and blending!
As I mentioned at the start, you need the correct tools for the job! We were very kindly gifted the ‘Beaba Babycook Solo’ to try. It steams, blends, defrosts and reheats.
It’s like my sous chef, my assistant. It’s what makes my ‘cooking’ Michelin starred. As if…. but seriously I couldn’t do half of what I do without her.
Even though we are spoon-fed, sometimes the spoon misses the mouth…like always! Make way for the incredibleBiBADO. This clever little bib bridges the gap between the baby and the highchair, stopping all of the food falling into their laps.
Breakfast? Oh yeah, so it’s porridge for Indy in the morning and I’ve been indulging with these amazing oats, rice and wheat multi-grain combo from ‘Kendamil.’ It is just ideal, organic and an energised way for Indy to start the day. I add the fruit purée I make on top.
One last thing if you are to become a batch purée maker like me… you need to order an Indian curry takeaway at least once a week! Purely for the chutney tray and the little round containers. THEY ARE THE ULTIMATE in puree making. In fact, I’d say essential, a portion in each and a lovely size to store in the freezer. What are you waiting for… get ordering! 😉