Baby Led Weaning (BLW) is a hot topic these days in Singapore – even The Straits Times has caught on to it. Taking BLW’s motto “Food is fun until they’re one” to heart, mama Jay Vian Yap has come up with some crazy-creative (and super healthy) recipes to keep her baby and toddler happy and well fed. You do not want to miss these amazing tips, mama! (Click here for Part 2, which includes some of Jay Vian’s favourite, easy snacks).
Baby led weaning (BLW) has been derided by some as the lazy mothers’ route to feeding their baby solids. Having done both – traditional weaning and BLW – I can strongly attest to this misconception.
For my first born, I took the traditional weaning approach. My now 3-year-old boy was then an extremely picky eater and had a very sensitive gag reflex. He completely refused milk from 5 months old and our weaning journey was a difficult one, ridden with lots of sweat and tears. For some reason, this boy of mine would very often choke and throw up, even on purees. He showed no interest in fruits, cereals, porridge – pretty much anything that was offered to him.
I tried BLW for a little while with him, and though he did show some interest in the food, he wasn’t getting much into his tummy. Being a first time mum, I was worried he wasn’t getting enough nutrition because he wasn’t consuming what was supposed to be his main source of food –MILK! In the end, I did not follow through with BLW and instead stuck to traditional weaning.
Every day was a battle, with hours spent on coaxing or using means of distraction to get him to eat. It was a stressful time for both of us. Even today as a toddler, my eldest is still very suspicious of food. Looking back, if I’d stuck to BLW, my boy may still have been fussy, but I think he’d at least be more skilled in managing and discovering a broader range of food.
With my second son, Colten, I knew BLW was the way to go, as I earnestly wanted him to be independent in self-feeding and more importantly, enjoy his journey of exploring food at his own pace.
Colten began BLW at 7+ months, and he took to it like a duck to water…a duck who throws food back at you sometimes, but a duck to water nonetheless.
Whilst BLW is an enjoyable and stress-free journey of food discovery for the little one, it is not without effort from mothers. Throughout our BLW journey, I find myself constantly crafting ways to make self-feeding easier for my toothless 9-month-old chipmunk. I take into consideration his evolving level of eating skills (hand to mouth coordination, pincer grasp, etc), his likes and dislikes, and also his ever-changing preference to certain shapes and textures before planning and preparing his food.
For example, Colten now prefers flat and broader shaped food like pancakes. I once made him salmon sweet potato oat fingers but he refused to even touch them. With the same ingredients, I added in eggs and turned it into pancakes, and he devoured the whole thing!
Here are some of Colten’s favourite flourless pancakes. What I love about these fluffy babies is that you can make different variations by jam packing it with any fruits and veggies to your liking and preparation is easy peasy.
4 Ingredient Flourless Pancakes –Sweet potato + Salmon + Rolled oats + Eggs
These protein packed pancakes can be whipped up in less than 15 minutes
1. Boil/steam/bake 1 medium size sweet potato till tender.
2. Puree the sweet potato.
3. Steam a portion of salmon and flake it.
4. Mix flaked salmon and 2 to 3 tablespoon rolled oats into the sweet potato puree. Stir to combine well (Batter can be used to make fish & sweet potato oatmeal fingers. Just shape it and put it in the oven at 180 degrees for 10 mins).
5. To make pancakes, scoop 2-3 tablespoon of the above batter in a food processor. Add 2 eggs and blitz until smooth.
6. Heat a nonstick frying pan and brush with virgin coconut oil or any cooking oil of your choice.
7. Pour the batter slowly into the pan till it forms a nice round pancake shape.
8. Cook until bottom appears set (1-2 minutes). Flip with a spatula and cook for another minute.
9. Repeat with remaining batter.
10. Serve the pancakes alongside a good dollop of Greek yogurt and topped with fruits of your choice.
3-Ingredient Flourless Caterpillar Pancakes
Another super simple recipe with just 3 ingredients — spinach + ricotta cheese + eggs. Rich in iron, these bright emerald gems are perfect as a hearty breakfast or snack. It’s also a great way to sneak some greens into your wee one’s meal.
1. Place a handful of fresh spinach, 1 to 2 tablespoon rolled oats, 1 heaped tablespoon of ricotta cheese ( or any soft cheese or greek yogurt) and 2 eggs into a food processor and blitz until smooth.
2. Grease a nonstick pan with virgin coconut oil or any cooking oil of your choice.
3. Cook pancakes over medium heat until bottom appears set (1 to 2 minutes) Flip and cook for another minute.
4. Serve with topping of choice.
Noodle “Mummies” are perfect for little hands to grip and nibble with ease, especially BLW beginners. If you have toddlers, this spooky version is sure to be a favourite too. To create these Halloween-inspired Noodle “Mummies” simply begin by cooking your noodles/spaghetti per instructions. I cooked mine in homemade ABC broth for extra flavour. Drain the noodles and wrap strands of the noodles around something firm. I wrapped my noodles around a cucumber (cut in the measurement of approximately 3 inches long and 2.5 cms wide). You can also choose to wrap your noodles around cooked sausages, cooked sweet potato fingers, etc. Serve with sauce or on its own.
For a complete meal, I added in “ghost” wontons with minced chicken filling, steamed organic tofu with small chicken pieces and green peas, avocado strips, sweet potatoes, red bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and blackberries.
Check out Part 2 for some of my favourite, easy snack recipes!