One of the biggest challenges of baby-led weaning is finding appropriate shapes that baby can handle, but are not a choking risk. These tender meatballs do just that. Large enough to avoid swallowing whole, but small enough to get a good grip, these curried meatballs will be a regular on your menu.
Meatballs are a great way to include high quality protein, spices and even vegetables into your baby’s diet in one convenient package. Not only that, but they are quick to prepare and will help you curry favour with the whole family. Culinary bliss is right a-round the corner!
Check out this video to see how simple it is to prepare curried chicken meatballs for your BLW baby:
Like this video? See more like it by subscribing to my Youtube channel.
How to Prepare Curry Chicken Meatballs for Your BLW Baby
Start by pre-heating your oven to 400˚F. Next, you want to put a pound of fresh ground chicken into a large mixing bowl.
Let’s turn up the flavour! Add half a finely diced white onion and one whole grated carrot to the bowl. Grate a tablespoon of fresh ginger into the mix and finally add two teaspoons of your favourite curry powder, a pinch of pepper and a dash of cinnamon.
Mix all the ingredients together well. Roll the meatballs into a shape slightly larger than a golf ball and place on a covered baking tray. If you’d prefer, you can roll a few into a log shape for baby, which is even easier to handle than a ball.
Bake for 20 minutes. Using an internal thermometer, check that the thickest meatball is cooked thoroughly to 165˚F, the safe temperature for ground chicken. Once cool, serve to your little one and make sure to enjoy some yourself.
If reheating, make sure you reach this same temperature before serving. Try microwaving with a bit of unsalted chicken broth or coconut milk to make sure they stay tender.
Do you have a favourite meatball recipe? Share in the comments below!
In Quebec, apple season is a core part of being Quebecois. We are the second leading province in apple production, with over a dozen different homegrown varieties to choose from. Not only are they locally grown, but apples are also a high quality fruit, with Vitamin C, B vitamins, fiber and antioxidants.
So why don’t we use apples in BLW recipes? Despite their benefits, raw apples are the food that babies choke on the most. Luckily for you, I have found a solution to bring apples into your baby-led weaning repetoire: bake them until soft with spices reminiscent of apple pie. It is a very a-peeling alternative!
Watch this video to see how easy it is to prep baked apples for your BLW baby:
If you enjoyed this video and would like to see more like it, subscribe to my channel today!
How to Prepare Baked Apples for Your BLW Baby
Start off by preheating your oven to 350˚F. Choose four firm apples and peel each one. Cut each peeled apple into quarters and remove the core.
Each quarter should be cut again lengthwise, to give 8 pieces per apple. Put all the slices into a medium casserole dish.
To the bowl, add about a teaspoon of cinnamon and a tablespoon of melted butter. Mix thoroughly and pop into the oven for about 40 minutes, or until tender.
Remove the apples from the oven, let cool and serve a piece to your BLW infant. You’ll see how perfect the texture is for your little one right off the bat!
Would you consider adding apples back into your baby’s diet? Let us know in the comment section!
Montreal in the winter is quite literally the exact opposite of tropical. It is often hard to believe that spring will ever come, what with all the snow, frigid temperatures and unreliable groundhogs. Thankfully, I have a sure-fire way to know we are coming into spring: when the mangoes become plentiful and fragrant at my local grocery store.
Although available year-round, these tropical delights are the most delicious (and affordable) from May to September in Canada. Not only are they tasty, but mangoes boast 20 over different vitamins and minerals in each bite and have a texture that is just right for soft mouths. That means serving this sweet mango-nificient fruit to your BLW baby is a great choice…that is if you can keep yourself from gobbling it all up!
Take a look this video to see how easy it is to prep mangoes for your BLW baby:
Did you like this video and want to see more? Subscribe to my channel today!
How to Prepare Mango for Your BLW Baby
Begin by selecting a mango that is ripe, so it is soft and tender for your little one. Press the skin gently, and it should give way under the pressure if it is ripe. Another trick is to smell the mango, close to the stem. If it is fragrant like the air of the tropics, it is ready to eat.
Give that mango a good scrub under cold running water. The skin helps baby grip this slippery fruit, so make sure it is squeaky clean.
Take the mango and stand it upright with the stem down on a cutting board. Cut around the pit, leaving two large “cheeks” of mango.
Slice each cheek lengthwise, or about 4 to 5 slices per cheek. To reduce waste, you can also slice the remaining mango from the pit and enjoy.
Offer a slice to your baby-led weaning infant! Make sure to keep an extra keen eye on them, to make sure they don’t eat the peel accidentally.
What do you think about adding mango to your fruit repertoire for baby? Let us know in the comments below!
We’ve all heard the buzz words around food these days. Words like sustainable, local and eco-conscious are becoming commonplace as more of us want food grown close to home using practices that are better for the planet. Baby-led weaning is an amazing way to help nurture budding environmental consciousness in your family AND nurture well-being. By choosing whole, delicious and locally sourced food that is in season, versus that which is shipped across the world, you can keep your baby (and your planet) happy and healthy.
Of course, this isn’t to say you have eat sustainably all the time (especially since we live in a frozen tundra 5 months out of the year). Sometimes it isn’t logical for busy parents, or it doesn’t fit into the budget. It is all about making small changes, and finding a balance that works for your family!
How to Prepare A Seasonal CSA Basket for Your BLW Baby
Fresh tomatoes are extremely simple to prepare. Give them a gentle wash, and cut into quarters. Serve to baby as is, or with a sprinkle of pepper and italian herbs.
Another great choice for a BLW baby is cucumber. Give it a good scrub and slice into a finger sized portion, with the skin left on for grip. Serve with a sprinkle of dried herbs.
You can include this powerhouse green into many recipes, such as salmon sliders, meatballs or even kale chips! Check out my free e-cookbook for more ideas.
Peppers (Bell, Sweet)
Grill or roast slices of peppers at a high temperature to help soften them for baby. Try coating them in a light layer of olive or avocado oil and marinating them in your favourite salt-free spices.
Want to see how to prep these seasonal CSA vegetables and more in a safe BLW fashion? Watch this video:
Like this content and want to see more? Then subscribe to my Youtube channel today.
Tell us in the comments below if you are introducing any sustainable food practices at home!
What is full of protein, is a good source of easily absorbed iron, has a natural handle for baby and takes just minutes to prepare? Drumroll please…my favourite chicken drumstick recipe of course!
This recipe will not only drum up compliments from family and happy gurgles from your baby, but it is easily made BLW safe so that your little one can experience new textures and flavours without fear. So don’t be a chicken and follow these simple steps to get our BLW chicken drumsticks on your table tonight!
Check out this video to see how easy it is to prep chicken drumsticks for your BLW baby:
How to Prepare Chicken Drumsticks for Your BLW Baby
First, preheat your oven to 375˚F. Then line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place six fresh or safely defrosted chicken drumsticks on the lined sheet.
It is time to season! First, sprinkle ground black pepper onto each drumstick. You want to add a healthy pinch for each stick, about 1/6th of a tsp (or simply divide a full teaspoon of pepper between the drumsticks). Next add garlic powder, using the same method and amount. Finally, again with the same instructions, sprinkle on some dried basil.
Once your oven is ready, bake the drumsticks for 30 minutes. When the timer rings, flip the drumsticks and bake for another 30 minutes.
Place an internal thermometer in the thickest part of the drumstick (being careful to not hit the bone) to ensure the chicken is cooked thoroughly to 165˚F and is safe to eat.
Now we want to make these drumsticks BLW appropriate! Once they have cooled, take off the skin. Next, remove the little pointy bone the sits beside the large bone.
Offer to baby and let them enjoy!
What is your favourite BLW-appropriate chicken dish? Share in the comments below!
The simple avocado has taken social media by storm in the past few years. The tell-tale rich and creamy texture is coveted by millennials and health-conscious instagrammers the world over, appearing on toast, in guacamole (yes it costs more, but it is #worthit) and even in baked goods.
So why am I AVO-cating for you to feed your baby this popular fruit? Although some “health gurus” may call it a superfood with “healing” abilities, as a dietitian I go for the facts. First, avocados are packed with healthy monounsaturated fats, fiber and contribute nearly 20 vitamins and minerals. Babies need more fat, making the avocado a perfect “bang for your bite” food for baby. Not only that, the soft texture makes it just right for beginner abilities. Move aside hipsters; it is time for baby to take over this trend!
Want to know how to serve avocado to baby safely? Watch the following video or keep reading for tips!
How to Prepare Avocado For Your Baby
Step 1: Choose an avocado that is ripe, but not too ripe! Remove the top stem; if it is bright green, that means it is ready to eat.
Step 2: Use the safe cutting method! Cut through the avocado to the pit, making sure to make a cut spanning the entire way around. Then, make a cut to separate it into quarters using the same method.
Step 3: Gently press on each quarter. They should fall away easily if your avocado is ripe.
Step 4: Remove the peel and cut the quarter in half. Serve to baby as is!
Tell us how you serve up this healthy fat to your baby in the comments section!
Choking and Baby Led Weaning (BLW): What does the most recent research say?
Last week during one of my webinars about BLW, a registered dietitian harshly interrupted me to voice her concerns about choking. She told me that what I’m saying is very scary and I should take my videos down. She said that my babies are cute and all but I should temper my enthusiasm about BLW. I’m sure this dietitian isn’t the only one to be scared about choking. That’s why I wrote up this blog post that addresses why babies who do BLW safely are not more at risk of choking compared to babies who eat jarred baby food, using the most recent research. I would like to thank Gill Rapley and dietetics intern Natalie Quathamer for their support and assistance in addressing this.
Choking: the main concern
When it comes to Baby Led Weaning, both parents and healthcare professionals find the risk of choking as a major concern. This is a very fair concern, as a baby’s first bite is a brand new experience of mastering chewing, swallowing and breathing all together for the first time, putting them at an overall higher risk of choking. To help quantify the current state of the issue, more than 12,000 children from age 0-14 have a non-fatal choking incident attributable to food in the US each year, as found by Chapin et al. in 2013 (1). No parent wants their child to choke, and as a professional it is your duty to protect the wellbeing of your clients. Unsurprisingly, choking is reported again and again as the #1 fear with regards to BLW in studies such as that by D’Andrea et al. in 2016 (2). That’s why I will spend a considerable amount of time addressing this very warranted concern.
What’s my objective with this post?
The goal here today is to focus on making you feel more comfortable with the fact that BLW babies are not more at risk of choking than babies fed with traditional spoon-fed approaches, using the most recent science.
What about baby’s motor skills?
First, let’s take a look at the average feeding timeline for a baby, to better understand the physiology of feeding. As many seminal studies, such as that by Woolridge in 1986 (3) have seen, at birth babies are able to feed themselves on their own. Physiologically, they have the innate reflex to suckle at the breast. Babies know when to feed, how to feed, when to stop and at what pace. Once they hit 1 ½ or 2 years old, we can again assume that most babies can feed themselves without help. This leaves a gap, starting at around six months, where we assume we have to feed babies with a spoon. However, babies do not lose their ability to self-regulate on when to feed, when to stop and at what pace, but are simply developing new physiological traits that change how and what they eat. These motor skill changes that develop around 6 months, like coordinating the grabbing and bringing of big objects like toys to their mouth and being able to sit upright with minimal help, make self-feeding a reasonable endeavour for most healthy infants at this time, as indicated in a literature review done by Cameron, Heath and Taylor in 2012 (4).
Traditionally speaking, we don’t tend to respect these new developmental milestones which can be a problem. Babies are then subject to being fed, at someone else’s pace and on someone else’s schedule, which has the power to lead to unexpected bites, overconsumption and a more stressful feeding environment.
What about oral motor skills?
So babies can maintain the correct position and bring food to their mouth, but what about oral motor skills? Well in their 2017 study, Cameron, Heath and Taylor (4) continue by noting that infants are able to handle foods that are soft in texture at 6 months by “munching” which is using up and down jaw movements to mash the food and eventually form a bolus. With this linear practice of munching, biting and chewing with age, babies get to apply and tweak their oral motor skills as they come in, rather than waiting in a spoon-feeding approach. This may have the power to prevent possible feeding difficulties in the future as well as choking episodes, since they have already developed, tested and fine-tuned their skills.
The gag reflex
I want to touch briefly on gagging, the protective reflex that helps prevent choking. Babies at six months of age have a gag reflex that is triggered at a much more frontal place in their mouth, as indicated by Rapley in 2011 (5). A possible benefit of BLW is that since only large pieces of food are offered at a time when the gag reflex is at the front of the mouth, this may help keep only well-masticated food to the back. It is important to note that BLW babies may gag more than their spoon-fed counterparts, as seen in the BLISS study by Taylor et.al in 2017 (6). However, by 8 months of age when these babies had a better grasp on self-feeding, they began to gag less than the control group.
Safety of jarred foods
Another consideration is the question of whether purees themselves are easy to eat, particularly once the ability to chew has developed. As noted in the thesis by Delaney in 2010 (7), for babies who can chew, purees are actually not that easy to manage, as the puree spreads throughout the mouth with chewing action and is very difficult to gather in a bolus.
What does the most recent science say?
Let’s finally get down to the nitty-gritty: what exactly does the newest science have to say specifically about BLW and choking risk? The best evidence to refute the idea that BLW leads to a higher choking risk is again the ongoing BLISS study by Taylor et.al in 2017 (6). This was a 2 year long Randomized Control Trial (RCT), where a control group of spoon fed babies were compared with a group of babies fed using the BLISS method, which is a combination of regular BLW techniques with extra instruction (such as choking prevention and offering high iron foods). Overall, the study found that that there was no difference in the number of babies who choked between the groups. Not only that, but it found no evidence of growth faltering or risk of iron deficiency in BLISS babies.
Another RCT by Fangupo et.al in 2016 (8) also showed that infants are not more at risk of choking following a BLW approach than spoon-fed. Better though still, is an editorial in the journal JAMA pediatrics, by Lakshman, Clifton and Ong in 2017 (9). This study pronounces BLW as a safe and effective intervention; no difference in energy intake, growth faltering or iron deficiency were noted, and no more choking incidents than in traditional spoon feeding. They even go so far as to suggest it may be recommended. It is important as purveyors of accurate science to look at all sides of the research. Another study from New Zealand by Morison et.al in 2016 (10), did indicate a possibly higher choking risk with a BLW-style approach. However, this study did not adequately define BLW; parents simply chose if they thought themselves to belong in the BLW group or the traditional feeding group, making the results difficult to state in a conclusive manner. An important take-away from this study was that education regarding inappropriate foods for infants, whether doing BLW or spoon-feeding, continues to be low. This further promotes the role of the dietitian during the infant feeding process, regardless of the approach.
What is the takeaway?
In summary, we need to remember that choking is a multifactorial issue; posture, chewing abilities, and distractions all need to be accounted for. However, with a dietitian-led BLW approach, babies are focused on their food, able to eat at their own pace, are under no pressure and most importantly, are not at a higher risk of choking than with purees.
How can we make sure BLW is being done safely?
Make sure the baby is sitting upright while eating (none of those lying back bouncy chairs or high chairs that aren’t at 90˚).
Limit distractions: no TV, IPad, cell phone or big crowds for the first few weeks so baby is not overwhelmed and can focus
Make sure the baby is ready to feed him/herself on their own. Don’t start too early
Do not feed the baby by putting foods into their mouth. You can lodge the food further down and actually cause choking by doing this
Offer appropriate foods that they can easily grab and are soft enough to handle.
Chapin, M. M., et al. (2013). “Nonfatal Choking on Food Among Children 14 Years or Younger in the United States, 2001–2009.” Pediatrics 132(2): 275-281.
D’Andrea, E, KIELYN JENKINS, MARIA MATHEWS, BARBARA ROEBOTHAN (2016). Baby-led Weaning: A Preliminary Investigation. Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research
Woolridge, M. W. (1986). “The ‘anatomy’ of infant sucking.” Midwifery 2(4): 164-171.
Cameron, S. L., Heath, A-L. M., & Taylor, R. W. (2012). Healthcare professionals’ and mothers’ knowledge of, attitudes to and experiences with, Baby-Led Weaning: a content analysis study. BMJ Open, 2 (6), 1-9. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012001542
Rapley, G. (2011). Transitioning to solid foods at the baby’s own pace. Community Practitioner, Jun;84(6):20-3.
Taylor, R.W., Williams, S.M., Fangupo, L.J., Wheeler, B.J., Daniels, L., Fleming, E.A., McArthur, J., Morison, B., Erickson, L.W., Davies, R.S., Bacchus, S., Cameron, S.L. and Heath, A-L. M. (2017) ‘Effect of a baby-led approach to complementary feeding on infant growth and overweight: A randomised clinical trial’, JAMA Pediatrics, 171(9): 838-846.
Delaney, A.L. (2010) Oral-motor Movement Patterns in Feeding Development. Ph.D. (Communicative Disorders). University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Fangupo, L. J., Heath, A-L. M., Williams, S. M., Erickson, L. W., Morison, B. J., Fleming, E. A.,…Taylor, R. W. (2016). A Baby-Led Approach to Eating Solids and Risk of Choking. Pediatrics, 138 (4), 1-8. doi:10.1542/peds.2016-0772
Lakshman, R.; Clifton, E.A. and Ong, K.K. (2017) ‘Baby-led weaning – safe and effective but not preventive of obesity’, JAMA Pediatrics, 171(9): 832-833
Morison, B. J., Taylor, R. W., Haszard, J. J., Schramm, C. J., Erickson, L. W., Fangupo L. J.,…Heath, A-L. M. (2016). How different are baby-led weaning and conventional complementary feeding? A cross-sectional study of infants aged 6–8 months. BMJ Open, 6 (5), 1-11. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2015010665
Here at Nutrition for Baby, we are bananas about…. bananas! One of the world’s most popular fruits, it is actually considered a berry by classification (despite bearing little resemblance to our well known friends like the strawberry or blueberry).
No matter how it is classified, bananas are packed with potassium, fiber, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C. On top of that, they are the perfect texture for baby. But how do you serve a fruit that is so slippery it is known for sending the bad guys head over heels in Saturday morning cartoons? Well we have three options for you, and a magic solution to make managing this fruit easier for your little one.
Check out this video to see how easy it is to prep a banana for your baby:
How to Prepare Banana for your Baby: 3 Ways
First, start by giving the peel of the banana a good scrub. We will be using the skin to our advantage later on, so make sure it is good and clean!
Next, cut the banana into thirds if it is a large banana, or into half if it is on the smaller side.
Using the section of the banana you can choose from three options! You can either:
Cut the peel off the top half of the banana portion and leave the bottom for a handle
Peel the portion and gently push on the banana until it comes apart into three sections
Peel half the skin vertically and leave the other half for baby to hold onto
How can we make the grip even better? Well here is my favourite trick; roll the banana in unsweetened shaved coconut! This also introduces fun new tastes and textures for baby to discover.
Dust off your slow-cooker and pull out your best roasting pan because today we are looking into how to safely provide meat to babies when doing Baby Led Weaning. No brown purées, no mush and no mess (well, most of the time)!
At around 6 months old, your baby’s iron needs are the highest they will ever be. Meat is not only rich in iron, but it has a special type of iron that’s only found in foods from animals. This type is better absorbed by your baby than the iron found in plants. Meat also has lots of protein, zinc, vitamin B12 and fats. Since your baby is probably not eating a large amount of food at this age, meat is a “bang for your bite” food. Even just sucking on the meat juices provides that precious iron and other minerals.
Providing meat to your BLW infant does take a bit of additional care for it to be safe, including the following from Health Canada:
Avoid meat or fish that is :
Raw, like sushi or rare steak
Highly processed like bacon, hotdogs or processed deli meats
Fried, using breading and unhealthy oils
Offer meat or fish that has been:
Cooked at these minimum temps:
Beef/veal/lamb: 77°C (170°F)
Pork: 71˚ C (160˚F)
Ground beef/veal/lamb/pork: 71˚C (160˚F)
Poultry (pieces): 74˚C (165˚F)
Poultry (whole): 82˚C (180˚F)
Ground poultry: 74˚C (165˚F)
Fish: 70˚C (158˚F)
Shellfish: 74˚C (165˚F)
Meat/Fish Leftovers: 74˚C (165˚F); reheat only once
Checked with a digital thermometer for temperature at the thickest part of the meat (ensure the metal tip is not hitting the bone)
Properly stored in a ≤4˚C (39˚F) fridge or ≤-18˚C (0˚F) freezer (refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours)
Made into the right size and shape:
Pieces of meat about as long as an adult pinkie finger (~2-3 inches long) and that are log shaped work best
Made safe by removing pointy bones and skin
Cooked without salt or sugar
Buying Your Meat
Deciding where to buy your meat is up to you. Conventional meat, the regular type you’d find at your grocery store, may contain growth hormones and antibiotics. However, Health Canada sets a maximal limit to the amount left in food, which should be below harmful levels. You may choose to buy organic meats, which are those produced without the use of antibiotics or hormones. You may also decide to support local farmers; often small farms cannot afford the organic certification, but do not use antibiotics or hormones in their meat production. At our house, we buy a large animal from a local farm and split it between friends to save time and money. Check out this link for more info about hormones and antibiotics in meat.
When Do I Offer Meat to My Baby?
You can offer meat to your baby any time it is on your menu, so that your baby can be part of the family meal. It is important to offer babies iron-rich foods 2 times per day to help them reach their iron needs. While this does not always have to be meat, it is a well-absorbed option.
How Do I Prepare Meat for My Baby?
You can take 1 lb of ground meat (any meat, so chicken, beef, lamb, veal, bison), add spices and herbs, shape it into meatballs that your baby can easily grab. A 6 month old’s hand movement ability is quite limited and they can’t pick up small pieces of food. They don’t even have the ability to re-position a piece of food in their hands so I found that log-shaped meatballs work best. About the length of an adult pinky finger. That way, the baby will grab the log-shaped meatball and some of it will be sticking out of their fist so they can easily take bites. You can experiment with different shapes like golf ball sized meatballs once your baby gets more practice. You can bake them in the oven at 400˚F (200˚C) for about 20 minutes. Meatballs are super convenient because you could freeze them and take them out when you need them. Check out my minty lamb meatballs for a fancy yet easy meal.
I’m not talking about store-bought sausages because those can be quite tough, salty and might contain some processed ingredients. I’m talking about easy homemade sausages without any casings. You can find my amazingly tasty homemade sausage recipe in my BLW recipe book.
You can make kebabs from ground beef or bison, mixed with your favourite herbs and spices about 4 inches (10 cm) long, thread the seasoned mixture onto a skewer and cook on the barbecue for about 10 minutes.
You can cook meat in a slow cooker or pressure cooker to make meals like pulled pork or stews. Just don’t add salt while you’re preparing the meal because babies really don’t need a lot of salt. Feel free to add salt to your portion!
Meat on the bone
Meat on a bone works really well because there is an integrated handle so babies can get a good grip. Some examples: garlicky chicken drumsticks (recipe in my BLW online course) and grilled lamb chops.
Meat in soup
You can even offer the meat from your soup because it’s usually quite tender. All you need to do is remove the chicken from a chicken soup and offer it to your baby.
The most smooth textured and the highest in iron is liver pâté.
Serving meat to your baby doesn’t have to be complicated. Knowing the steps to stay safe in the kitchen can open a world of recipes for you and your family. What’s your favorite way to serve meat to your baby?
It’s getting hot outside and it’s time to light the barbecue. You might be wondering if babies can eat food grilled on the barbecue. The question is: are barbecuing and Baby Led Weaning (BLW) compatible?
The answer is yes, starting at around 6 months old. You do want to make sure you do it safely (as with everything else) because research shows that cooking meat, poultry and fish at high temperatures may increase you and your baby’s risk of cancer.
Marinate meat, poultry and fish before cooking. Studies have shown that marinating these foods can prevent the formation of cancer-causing chemicals.
When barbecuing, choose lean cuts of meat, poultry and seafood over higher-fat meats. Trim off visible fat. This will reduce the amount of harmful chemicals that develop from the smoke created by burning fat.
Barbecue slowly and keep the food away from the hot coals so that flames are less likely to engulf the food to prevent charring.
Try grilling vegetables, veggie burgers and fruit slices. Most experts agree that plant-based foods do not form the cancer-causing substances when cooked at high heat.
Foods grilled on the barbecue are great for babies because they maintain their shape yet babies can easily bite into them. Asparagus are delicious this time of year. Why not try barbecued asparagus? Here is a 6-month old enjoying asparagus on the barbecue:
Even grilled mushrooms are totally appropriate for babies:
If your baby just sucks on a strip of meat without actually eating any, he or she is still getting some iron. It could also occupy a baby for quite some time!
Here are some free barbecue recipes that you can try for your baby: