Can babies eat a roast dinner?
Starting solids is an exciting milestone but often fraught with conflicting advice, complicated guidelines and rejected puree splattered on the floor. See what happens when we served a winter roast to four babies of various ages.
Before inviting our babies around for lunch, we asked nutritionist Anna Hansen for her advice on first meals for the youngest members of the family. We were intrigued by her reminder that babies can eat what the rest of the family is eating (within reason, and according to their development stages, see starting-solids for further recommendations) and took up her challenge to cook one roast dinner and serve it three ways.
Our aim was to give our babies a range of textures and flavours (appropriate to their age), a balanced meal, and food that Mum and Dad could enjoy, too. “It takes the hassle out of dinner, if your baby is able to eat the same foods as the rest of the family. I didn’t get the hang of that until I had my second child, and it made life much easier,” says Anna.
We roasted a free-range chicken but left the seasoning to a bare minimum. We also roasted unseasoned kumara, pumpkin, carrot and potatoes. If older family members prefer some salt and pepper, separate some vegetables to roast unseasoned in another tray.
To introduce young diners to the taste and textures of raw vegetables, Anna recommended mashed avocado for our six-month-old and grated carrot and beetroot and slices of avocado for our older babies.
Quinoa is rapidly gaining fame for its nutritional benefits and Anna suggests introducing it to children from a very young age to get them accustomed to the texture. Mixed with mashed avocado it made a rather odd-looking side dish, but was accepted whole-heartedly by babies too young to question its visual appeal.
Babies generally love sweet flavours, so dessert is never really a problem. We opted for seasonal pears, tried and true favourite banana, and blueberries – available all year round in the freezer.
How did our babies fare with their roast dinner?
Baby Beckham: Six-month-old Beckham dined on roasted pumpkin, kumara, carrot and chicken breast, puréed to a smooth consistency. For pudding he tried some puréed pear and slices of banana. The verdict? Beckham seemed delighted with his lunch, smiling and laughing between mouthfuls, although he did find the banana slices a bit slippery.
Twins Arabella and Olette: Nine-month-old twin sisters Arabella and Olette thoroughly enjoyed their slices of roast chicken and wedges of roast vegetables. They also tried some mashed avocado and quinoa on the side. Mum Laura tells us the girls are pretty keen on food and this meal was no exception. Roast kumara appeared to be the clear favourite. For dessert the girls tried semi-thawed blueberries and pieces of banana. The blueberries proved more fun to play with than eat, but this may have been because they were a tad chilly.
15 month old Lulita: Lulita tackled her meal with a fork and a spoon, with varying success. Again the chunks of roast veges were a huge hit, as was the chicken. Lulita enjoyed a side dish of salad – grated carrot and slices of avocado. She loved playing with the different textures but clearly enjoyed the taste too and finished nearly the whole bowl full. For dessert - yoghurt and blueberries, and lots of practice with her spoon.
AS FEATURED IN ISSUE 26 OF OHbaby! MAGAZINE. CHECK OUT OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS ISSUE BELOW