When we first started baby led weaning, I felt a little lost coming up with baby-friendly baby led weaning lunch ideas every day.
Like any new mother starting the weaning process I too was concerned about how to introduce a wide variety of flavors and foods to the baby and serve up a nutritious meal every time.
Over a period of time with some trial and error, both my husband and I were able to have a consistent set of nutritious meals for lunch (these ideas are suited for dinner too). All of these ideas are baby led weaning friendly and healthy.
As a family, we now have a healthier diet, compared to before. Even snacks are now cleaner versions of some of our favorites.
Isn’t it amazing how much our children teach us? If it weren’t for the baby led weaning rule – baby eats what family eats we would have never put so much thought into what we eat. This modification of family diet to healthier meals is an added benefit of baby led weaning.
These are ideas for 6 months until 12 months. 12 months onwards you can modify the spice level in the food (based on your toddler’s preference) and add more variety and textures of food.
BABY LED WEANING LUNCH IDEAS
1. Indian Meals
A typical Indian lunch plate consists of;
A) rice and dal – made into balls for baby to easily hold in palms and self-feed.
B) A vegetarian dish – When making vegetables the Indian way, use milder spices for baby like turmeric, cumin powder, and coriander powder. Add a tadka in ghee and chop the vegetable into bigger chunks so that baby can easily pick the individual pieces and self-feed. Note: Always check that the cooked vegetable is soft enough to be smushed between two fingers. Do not offer raw vegetables to babies.
C) Chapati (whole wheat Indian flatbread) – spread some ghee/coconut oil and serve in long finger size strips. Ensure that you serve soft phulka like chappati to babies with no teeth. Check my post on baby led weaning first foods for picture depictions of Indian meals for baby led weaning.
Whole wheat pasta, quinoa pasta, chickpea pasta are all great options for a baby led weaning friendly family meal. You can make any pasta sauce of your choice modified for no salt and no sugar for babies under 12 months. When making pasta in a cheese sauce, choose cheeses that are natural and contain lower salt content.
We personally steered clear of cheese based dishes for the first year as it was harder to find options that contained minimal salt.
Here are 3 easy baby led weaning friendly pasta meals
- Pesto pasta: To make the Pesto sauce, blitz 1 handful of soaked almonds, 7-10 basil leaves, 1- 2 garlic pods until the sauce is nice and smooth adding a little olive oil and water to help make it smoother. Once ready mix this sauce with cooked pasta. Pesto pasta for baby is ready.
- Pasta in tomato sauce: I use this recipe to add our favorite veggies like peas and broccoli to a pasta dish. In the early months of baby led weaning smush the peas for baby when you serve. To make the tomato sauce sautee 2 garlic pods in olive oil, add 4 finely chopped tomatoes and cook until they release the juices and become soft in texture. Add in the steamed veggies and combine everything until the veggies are coated in the tomato sauce. Once done add the cooked pasta, mix and serve.
- Avocado pasta: This is so easy to make its almost cheating to call it cooking a meal. All I do is mash a ripe avocado until it’s a smooth sauce like consistency and mix cooked fusilli pasta with this sauce. That’s it, simple and nutritious pasta for a baby to self-feed.
This stuffed Indian flatbread is an amazing finger food option. Increase the ratio of potatoes to wheat flour in order to make the paratha soft for baby’s gums. You can even stuff the paratha with vegetables like spinach, broccoli or cottage cheese to increase the nutrient density and make it a more complete meal.
4. Dal Khichdi
This rice and lentil dish is ideal for babies. It’s easy to digest and highly nutritious. Add finely chopped veggies like bottle gourd, peas, and grated carrot to add some flavor and extra nutrients to the meal. Cook the khichdi to a thick texture so that you can make balls of khichdi and offer the baby to self-feed.
One easy recipe that I used a lot in the beginning months was to make different types of patties.
You can use the vegetables you will be making lunch with and steam them along with boiled potatoes. Patties are also a great way to repurpose leftovers into a new dish.
For flavoring stick to turmeric and coriander powder. Add freshly chopped coriander to the patty mix.
For coating, use corn flour or roasted semolina flour to coat the patties.
Easy combinations to try are spinach and bean patties, pumpkin and cauliflower patties, potatoes and peas, fish patties, meat mince patty.
Pair your patties with a lentil dal, this yummy combination is super healthy and flavorsome for babies.
6. Quinoa Bowl
Quinoa is a great food to start early on. It’s rich in protein and digests easily. Best to begin around 8-10 months of age.
1. Adding a mashed avocado to the quinoa makes it easy and a non-spill option for the baby to self-feed with a spoon.
2. Add grated veggies when cooking the quinoa like beetroot and carrots. Serve with homemade guacamole and call it a meal.
3. Another way to serve quinoa is to pair with hearty soups like broccoli and potato or lentil soups. This combination of quinoa and veggie soup helps cover a lot of vitamins and minerals in one meal. One of our favorites is a quinoa bowl paired with broccoli and potato soup. It’s a filling and tasty combination.
Check these recent posts for some baby led weaning lunch ideas.
Though these meals were documented when my son was a toddler, most of these ideas can be offered to babies too with minor modifications to shape of cut vegetables and staying away from any sweeteners like sugar and honey.
There may also be days when you are eating something that’s not appropriate for the baby or are having a lazy day, but still, want to build a healthy plate for your baby. I got you covered with lazy day baby led weaning lunch ideas too. Read here for quick food ideas for busy moms.
I hope this post served as an inspiration as you plan your family meals. For more baby led weaning lunch ideas follow me on Instagram where I post pictures of my sons meals along with tips on how to deal with the fussy eating toddler years.
Do let me know what else you would like me to cover on the baby led weaning topic in the comment section below.