Baby Led Family Meal Ideas
I really dislike the phrase "baby food." Food is food and when we decide that only certain foods (or certain preparations of foods) are appropriate for a baby, we miss a big opportunity for helping a baby learn to chew, to swallow safely, to clear their mouth. We also miss the chance to help our babies learn how to be in control of their own hunger and interest and learn to love all foods and flavors that are important to a family. It's also a slippery slope. We are willing to cook and prepare special foods just for baby but at some point we hope/expect toddlers will eat the same foods as the family. If we don't show them how to do this from the get go and set that expectation early, we run the risk of them refusing when they get to toddlerhood (hello, feisty toddlers and picky eating!)
Why spend a bunch of extra time making homemade "baby food" for a 6-12 month old, when you can just make delicious meals for your whole family so everyone can enjoy and eat together. Your baby gets the benefit of watching you model eating what they are eating, as well as smelling the delicious food you have cooked, while they eat the same foods. You get the benefits of not cooking two separate meals. Win-win!
Here are a few ideas of meals that my family loves. Family meals but baby led in that I knew my 6 month old could at least attempt to eat these foods. We all ate them together. I served each of these meals when my daughter was 6-12 months old and she still loves and eats them now that she is 21 months. At 6 months, she was mostly squishing these foods, mouthing them and spitting them out- very little swallowing of the food but lots of tasting. At 21 months, she eats them. Some days, she devours them.
1st small picture down & large picture on right: Sautéed kale, onion, bell pepper, and chicken sausage in puff pastry pockets.
I didn't follow a recipe, I just chopped up the veggies I had on hand and one sausage, sautéed it all with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. I laid out one sheet of puff pastry, put the sautéed stuff in half then folded the pastry in half enclosing the sautéed veggies and sausage inside. I poked some holes with a fork then baked according to the package instructions on the puff pastry. I served this with some beautiful fresh seasonal fruit.
2nd small picture down: mini quiche with broccoli and zucchini, & cherry tomatoes. I love this quiche recipe. It is incredible easy to make and to add in whatever you have on hand.
3rd small picture down: Baked sea bass with roasted peppers and balsamic reduction over arugula (Suzanne Goin recipe from Sunday Suppers at Luques). No recipe, sorry but let the picture and description inspire you, because it was DELICIOUS. Suzanne Goin's cookbook is full of phenomenal, though somewhat labor intensive recipes. However, if you are saving time not pureeing up a bunch "baby"foods, you'll have a bunch of extra time to cook amazing meals for your whole family to enjoy, including your baby