We’ve just started the weaning process again with our second baby boy, Parker. I forgot how fun it is to be whizzing up fruits and veg in the Beaba Cook. Plus the kitchen always smells amazing after! So far Parker hasn’t shown as much interest in solids as Finlay did at this stage (he’ll be 7 months this week). I still remember the surprise when baby F wolfed down his first solids – some rather bland baby porridge – and it was no time at all before he was tucking into all sorts of exotic flavours. Hopefully it won’t be long till Parker feels a little more adventurous!
My Little Piccolo is fairly new to the baby foods market and we were lucky enough to be sent some of their delicious pouches to try. Piccolo follows the Mediterranean approach when it comes to developing their baby purées and only uses organic ingredients. You can find all of the recipes on their blog so that you can recreate them at home or simply buy pre-prepared for when you’re out and about or short on time. To learn more about baby weaning, Piccolo’s nutritional expert, Alice Fotheringham, has kindly shared with us her top tips and a bit more about what makes Piccolo different.
What are some ideal first solids to start the weaning process?
There really is no one best first food to start on the weaning processes. There are lots of delicious foods you could try, most people suggest starting with a single vegetable or fruit that is unlikely to cause a reaction, however at 6 months there are lots of foods that are suitable, and this stage it is more about introducing them to the exciting world of different tastes and textures, than the amount of food they are getting. Try root vegetables like sweet potato or carrot, or a creamy ripe avocado. Delicious simple fruits to start on include apple, pear or banana.
Are there any particular combinations that seem to be a real hit with babies?
Full fat natural yoghurt with pretty much any fruit goes down a treat. As does well cooked scrambled egg with avocado. I like adding a little herb or spice in my purees from pretty early on, so a pinch of cinnamon into an apple puree, or adding a little garlic or dried mixed herbs into a vegetable puree can add an extra roundness of flavour that baby’s seem to absolutely love.
Do you have any time-saving tips for preparing and storing home-made purees?
Cooking in batches really makes a difference. Rather than cooking a couple of carrots, cook the whole bag. Combine the food you are making for your baby for what you eat that day. So if you are cooking carrots, make a mash for yourself, or a topping for a chicken, shepherds or vegetable pie.
If you are pureeing the ingredients anyway, be more relaxed about chopping, it may seem a silly thing to say, but as long as pieces are similar sizes, chop into big chunks and don’t be precious about how they look. You can end up spending a lot of time peeling and chopping, so just do big chunks and fling them in the oven, steamer or in boiling water and just cook for a few minutes longer.
If you want to freeze extra portions, freezing in ice cube trays is great for this. You can buy great ones with covers, but a bit of cling film wrapped around it is absolutely fine. Make sure you write on top what it is and the day you made it- a lot of fruit and veg can start looking similar, particularly once frozen! Once frozen, pop the cubes out of the ice cube trays into ziplock bags and write on the outside of the bag what they are. Take a few cubes out of the freezer the night before and put in the fridge to defrost in a bowl, ready for the next day. Once defrosted you can add things like yoghurt or porridge to fruit purees, or cooked pasta, lentils, rice or cooked meat or fish to vegetable purees.
Tell us about Piccolo?
Piccolo was created by Cat Gazzoli, the former CEO of Slow Food UK, and the recipes are inspired by the Mediterranean approach to health and well-being. Giving back is at the heart of what we do at Piccolo, with 10% of its profits going to food education charitable work, and is the first baby food brand to work in partnership with the prestigious National Childbirth Trust (NCT), the UK’s largest parenting charity. We have launched in Waitrose, Ocado, Whole Foods Market and Planet Organic with six organic fruit and vegetable purees, made with 100% natural ingredients and inspired by family recipes.
Can you share with us more about the Mediterranean approach?
The principles of the Med diet are a great way to teach little taste buds about exciting new flavours – good, tasty baby food doesn’t need to be bland.We are big believers in the Mediterranean approach as being a wonderful way to think about food and our lifestyle, not just for us, but also for our baby.
When we think of Mediterranean goodness, we think of bright sunshine, colourful markets and families eating around the table; but it is not just about that, and research has shown that the Mediterranean approach encourages overall wellbeing and good eating habits.
Introducing a Mediterranean approach to nutrition and lifestyle is one which champions good, honest and natural food which has been lovingly prepared and enjoyed with as many people as you can squeeze round your table, and we believe that introducing a wide variety of delicious flavours, with a pinch of Mediterranean goodness, helps develop your little piccolo’s taste buds from when it matters most.
What’s been your favourite part about helping to develop the Piccolo recipes?
Getting baby’s reactions to the different flavours, particularly all the herbs and spices. There is a common preconception that baby’s like bland food, but getting a variety of flavours through herbs and spices early on is a wonderful way to introduce new tastes, and to support their taste journey onto eating the same foods that you eat as a family.
Thanks Alice for sharing these helpful tips with us! You can currently find Piccolo at Waitrose, Ocado, Whole Foods & Planet Organic.