Whether you’re due to start weaning soon or right in the mix of it the current lockdown situation and access to food may feel daunting. I’m here to reassure you that even when ingredients are scarce weaning is doable.
Here are my suggestions for weaning ingredients in a lockdown….
Vegetables and Fruits
Frozen veg: Vegetables such as peas, spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, avocado and green beans are all great frozen options and perfect for both first foods and later in the weaning process. Because the vegetables are frozen quickly after picking the vitamins and minerals are locked in making them, sometimes even more nutritious than fresh veg.
Fresh veg: don’t stress about what veg is or isn’t available. If you’re going shopping for bitter vegetables and there aren’t any, don’t panic, try something different. All vegetables are a great addition to the weaning diet. Vegetables such as parsnips, swede, carrots, cabbage and kale will keep for longer and provide some good variety to your baby's weaning diet.
Fruit: Whilst fruits usually taste sweeter than vegetables they are not to be dismissed. Fruits are still a great source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre. Frozen, fresh and even tinned (in juice not syrup) will all make a valuable contribution to your baby’s nutrition.
Proteins and iron rich foods: Iron is an important nutrient during weaning and is found in meats, fish, eggs, beans, lentils, pulses, nuts and seeds.
Tinned lentils, beans and pulses all contain protein and iron. Look for lentils and beans tinned in water and not salted water. Butter beans, cannellini beans, kidney beans, haricot beans, red lentils, green lentils, puy lentils, chickpeas are all great options.
Dried lentils. These will take longer to prepare than tinned lentils as they need boiling in water until soft but otherwise are just the same as the tinned varieties and make a brilliant weaning food.
Frozen edamame beans are also a great option for protein and iron too. You'll find them next to the frozen veg in the freezer isles (fingers crossed!).
Fish: Frozen, fresh or tinned fish e.g. tuna, salmon, mackerel and sardines are all excellent weaning foods and are suitable from 6 months. Look for tinned fish in water or oil rather than brine which is very salty and be sure to check all fish for bones.
Meat: Fresh or frozen meat is fine if you can get hold of it and is a good source of protein, iron and zinc. If using frozen meant be sure to defrost it fully (ideally slowly in the fridge overnight) before cooking. If you're able to buy fresh meat you can store freeze it at home and defrost it when you want here. Click here for guidance from the Food Standards Agency on chilling and freezing foods.
Eggs: If you can get hold of eggs in the supermarkets at the moment, they are a good source of protein and iron too. Use in omelettes, eggy bread or in pancakes for finger foods from 6 months.
Smooth nut butters e.g peanut, almond or cashew nut butter are great for spreading on toast, mixing with porridge or on pancakes from 6 months. Nut butters provide a good source of energy, protein, iron, zinc and good fats.
Porridge oats, ready brek, Weetabix are all great breakfast foods which are low in sugar and salt. Some breakfast cereals such as ready brek and Weetabix may be fortified with additional vitamins and minerals too.
Potatoes. A great first food or for combining with vegetables and protein foods for a balanced meal once you’re past the single flavour stage of weaning.
Sweet potatoes. Don’t be put off by the word sweet. They might taste sweeter than some foods but this doesn’t mean we should avoid them altogether in weaning. Sweet potatoes are a good source of vitamins and minerals especially vitamin A and provide fibre too.
Toast. Makes a great finger food. Spread with mashed avocado, soft cheese spread, mashed bean pate, hummus or nut butters to boost the nutrient content and add flavour.
Pasta, rice, cous cous and other grains are all great sore cupboard ingredients if you can get hold of them. Brown or white pasta and rice is fine for babies, try offering sometimes white and sometimes brown. If you can only get hold of one variety, that's fine. There will be time to expose your baby to more variety later.
Full fat natural yoghurt. In fact, any yoghurt is fine and makes a good dessert when you’re on to 3 meals a day (around 7 months). Some flavoured yoghurts will contain more sugar than others. If you’re unsure check the labels of different brands and go for the one with the lowest sugar. Plain natural yoghurt will usually be lower than any flavoured yoghurts.
Cheese. Any cheese is fine to offer your baby from 6 months. A great ingredient to add to dishes or as finger foods when your baby is ready (grated cheese makes a good, soft finger food for baby’s who have developed the pincer grip).
Long life milk. This is fine to add to your baby’s breakfast cereal or in cooking. Remember to continue with your baby’s usual milk feeds (breast or formula) as their main drink. Cow’s milk should not be offered as a drink until 12 months. If you can’t get hold of cow’s milk at all, an unsweetened, fortified soya milk, oat milk or almond milk is also fine to use in cooking or on breakfast cereal. Rice milk is not recommended for infants and children under 5 years so avoid this one.
It’s times like these when we may need to adjust, adapt and work with what we’ve got but there are plenty of nutritious options for your baby even in these circumstances. Above all else try to relax, allow your baby to explore a variety of foods where possible and have fun! Weaning is much more than eating food, it’s an exploration of food so don’t forget to encourage your little food explorers to get messy and learn about food with all their senses!
I am currently offering my online weaning course for FREE. To sign up please click here and enter 'lunasupport19' at the checkout. Please also feel free to ask any weaning questions below.