Looking for some easy and healthy meal inspiration for baby-led weaning or finger foods for toddlers? Here are ten balanced meal ideas — all are baby-approved!
Over the past few months, our family has been on one BIG food adventure. It all started when we began introducing solids to our little guy at the 6-month mark.
To be honest, I wasn’t 100% sure what to feed him at first, but I knew that I wanted to give the baby-led weaning method a shot (you can read more about BLW here). Beyond doing some reading and watching some webinars on BLW, I figured I’d simply put my nutrition knowledge into action and hope for the best. Not much can prepare you for that first time you offer your baby solids, not even 5 years of studying nutrition in university.
For me, it has been all about trial and error and offering him a variety of different textures and foods from all of the different food groups….and applying some key principles which I discussed in my post last week on “5 Tips for Planning Healthy Meals for Babies.”
We’ve been fortunate that he’s been a really good eater and up for trying anything since day one. He’s like his mommy and daddy and just really loves food!
Although we try to feed him what we’re eating on a daily basis (with some adaptions, of course), there have been a few go-to meals that have been on our menu rotation for him because they’re easy, balanced and healthy!
You can check out some of those meal ideas and preparation tips below!
Meal Idea#1: Dis-assembled Breakfast Sandwich
- Spinach & Zucchini Frittata Finger
- Mashed avocado thinly spread on Ezekial bread, toasted and cut into strips
- Baked sweet potato strips
- A piece of cheese cut into thin strips
Tips: I like to prepare a batch of the frittata fingers and store them in the freezer. It’s a great way to incorporate harder-to-serve vegetables like spinach and zucchini. Simply thaw the frittata fingers out in the fridge or microwave. They make such an easy meal when you’re in a pinch.
Similarly, you can bake a sweet potato or cook it the microwave in advance for a quick and easy vegetable to serve on the side throughout the week. I also like to use Ezekial bread since it’s lower in sodium than most breads, contains higher amounts of fibre and because it’s sprouted, the vitamins and minerals tend to be better absorbed.
Meal Idea #2: Salmon Dinner
- Flaked salmon fillet served with a squeeze of lemon juice and dill
- Quinoa flakes
- Steamed broccoli
- Diced mandarin orange, with seeds and pith (white stringy pieces) removed
Tips: I like to serve salmon 2-3 times per week since it’s such a great source of omega-3s, which are necessary for a healthy brain, heart and eyes. Just be sure that you remove any bones before serving to baby.
If you don’t have time to cook quinoa on the stove for baby, I like to put 2 tablespoons of quinoa flakes in a bowl with about 3 tablespoons of water and cook it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. It creates a thicker and mushier quinoa with a similar consistency to oats which is perfect for babies to grasp when feeding themselves. You can also add shredded cheese or finely chopped veggies, such as baby spinach, shredded zucchini, or small pieces of cooked broccoli or cauliflower to the quinoa mix too!
Meal Idea #3: Meatballs & Veggies
- Beef meatballs
- Spaghetti squash, chopped
- Baby spinach and mushrooms, finely chopped and sautéed in olive oil
Tips: I keep the meatballs simple and mix ground beef with a couple of cloves of minced garlic, a teaspoon of thyme, and an egg, but you could also use a recipe such as this one and just omit the salt in baby’s portion.
For the spaghetti squash, spinach and mushrooms, chop them finely so that baby can grasp, chew and easily swallow them. Don’t be afraid to add a little bit of olive oil to incorporate some healthy fats — it helps them to better absorb those fat-soluble vitamins!
Meal Idea #4: Chicken Noodle Soup
- Shredded Chicken
- Small pieces of sliced carrots, quartered
- Small pieces of diced celery
- Whole-grain fusilli or rotini pasta
Tips: Soup is one of my favourite things to serve baby since the vegetables, protein and grains become really tender when cooked in broth. I like to cook up a batch of this chicken noodle soup at the beginning of the week for a quick and easy lunch or dinner for the whole family. I simply put some small pieces of shredded chicken, cooked carrots, celery and pasta on baby’s tray for him to eat with his hands and let him take sips of broth out of the bowl or cup (that’s his favourite part)!
Meal Idea #5: Eggs & Toast
- 1-egg omelette, cut into strips
- Ezekial bread toasted, with thin layer of almond butter
- Fresh raspberries
Tips: Omelette strips are my go-to meal when I’m in a rush and don’t have time to make anything elaborate. You can either use a mini 5-inch frying pan, or for a super fast trick, mix the egg with a fork in a microwave egg cooker and pop in the microwave for about one minute. Once cool, simply cut into strips for baby and serve. You could even serve with melted cheese on top for some extra calcium and protein!
I like to cut the toast into strips so that it’s easy for baby to grasp with his palm. By toasting and putting almond butter on the strips, I find it makes it easier for him to break down with his mouth, despite not having many teeth.
Meal Idea #6: Yogurt Power Bowl
Tips: This yogurt power bowl is our go-to breakfast. When I discovered our baby had a sensitivity to oats, I needed to come up with an alternative breakfast that was quick, easy and healthy. I love using frozen blueberries that are thawed because they tend to be juicier and softer and sweeten up the yogurt naturally. Plus, you can buy a big bag of them and don’t have to worry about fresh ones spoiling in the fridge. A yogurt bowl is also a great vehicle for serving some healthy fats like hemp hearts and nut butters to incorporate some extra calories.
Sometimes, I’ll let baby dig his hand in there and pick out the yogurt-coated blueberries, while other times I’ll preload the spoon and let baby feed himself (which can be quite messy. Be forewarned -that yogurt may end up on the floor…and on the wall). If we’re really in a pinch and want to minimize the mess, I’ll feed it to him (not technically BLW, I know, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do).
Meal Idea #7: Pancakes & Fruit
- Mini 2-ingredient pancakes
- Sliced strawberries
Tips: These pancakes are perfect for little hands and mouths and only require an egg, banana and a bit of coconut flour, which is optional. Make up a batch of these pancakes and store in the fridge or freezer for a really quick meal or snack. These pancakes also make a great meal to serve on the go that’s relatively mess-free.
Meal Idea #8: Falafels & Pita
- Mini whole-wheat pita thinly spread with hummus
- Fresh tomato strips
Tips: My husband and I are huge fans of falafels, so I make them on a fairly regular basis. I blend all of the ingredients (minus the salt and baking soda) in the food processor and use the mixture to form a few smaller patties for baby. I’ll then add the salt and baking soda to the remaining mixture for my husband and I for some extra flavour.
Serve to baby along with some thin strips of whole-wheat pita (I like to use the mini ones) with a thin layer of hummus and tomato slices or quartered cherry tomatoes.
Meal Idea #9: Meatloaf muffins & Veggies
- Turkey apple meatloaf muffins
- Baked sweet potato fries (minus the salt)
- Roasted peppers (drizzle and baked with olive oil)
Tips: I ALWAYS have a batch of these turkey apple meatloaf muffins on hand. These things are a LIFE SAVER. I like to make up a batch once every couple of months and store in a ziplock bag in the freezer. Simply thaw a couple of them out (depending on how many your baby will eat) and serve along with some baked sweet potato fries and roasted peppers. As an added bonus, you can cook them all in the oven at the same time and serve throughout the week for an easy meal.
Meal Idea #10: Veggie Mac & Cheese
- Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese
- Roasted cauliflower drizzled with olive oil
Tip: I like to make the sauce for the butternut squash mac & cheese and freeze the sauce in individual compartments in an ice cube tray. For a super quick and balanced meal, I cook up some noodles, pop out one of the sauce cubes, thaw it out and mix it in with the noodles. As a bonus, you can also mix the sauce with vegetables or meat to add some extra flavour and moisture.
What are some of your favourite meals for baby?
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