Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Finger Food For Fussy Babies

I have briefly mentioned this before, but The Chap  is not a good eater. While other people's babies were being fed puree from 4 months, I looked nodded at the WHO guidelines and decided to hold off til 6 months, and that we would then go the Baby Led Weaning route. In some ways this was a good choice, and in some ways, bad. I wish now I had ignored the guidelines and begun spooning puree down his gullet so he would have got used to eating from a spoon. I now watch other people's babies powering through all manner of cooked vegetables from Tupperware tubs, or accepting a forkful of something or the other from their parents meal.

The Chap does not do this. He does not eat well.

Potatoes. Meat. Most cooked vegetables. Pasta. Savoury purees. Fruit that isn't apples or bananas. Fruit that sometimes is apples or bananas. These are the items that we continue to present him with, and continue to occasionally, grudgingly be brought to his lips, only to sail moments later over the side of the high chair. Even the food he does like (sausages, bread, toast and cream cheese, apples, raisins, dates, Ikea meatballs, pork pies, apple pies, yoghurt, cereals like Shreddies) is often rejected and goes the same way.

It is not unknown for breakfast to consist of a Shreddie, or half a rice cake. Yes, I've been to the Health Visitor. The answer is that I must love the baby I have, and to keep offering variety to him in the hope he will expand his repertoire. It appears to be working, albeit slowly. He will now consent to 2-3 bites of broccoli if presented, or the occasional noodle. And, indeed, he does now bring things to his lips, rather than before when he would pick things up, only to drop them in disgust.

This lack of food I find very worrying. I know it's silly to compare your baby to those of others, and I know he is, at this age, pretty self regulating. It is hard, however, when you put him in a high chair with breadsticks, raisins and an apple in front of him, and he waves his hands about declaring he wants something, but whatever it is is not clear. Banana? Yoghurt? Pork pie? Nope, nope, nope. It all goes sailing over the side of the high chair, and he then works himself up into a frenzy, cries to be taken out of the high chair. This would be fine, but he then spends the next half hour crawling up my legs, sucking his finger and complaining that he's hungry. Offer him food, it is refused. I get to enjoy this farrago five times a day. It's hard.

However, this means that when I make something for him, I want it to be calorie and nutrient rich, because I know at best we have 2 - 3 bites of it before it goes over the side of the high chair.

Here are three recipes the work for my Fussy Fiend. If you have one like mine, maybe they will work for you. Anything is worth a try...

Dried Fruit & Nut Raw Food Bars

This is an adaptation from this recipe given to me by my friend Caroline, but with added bells and whistles. I don't really go for the raw food movement, but this gets fruit (vitamins!) and nuts (protein!) into the Chap, and they taste good, so I'm all for it.
The quantities make more than 3 bars, promise.


70g dates
70g prunes
70g plain cashews
1 tsp tahini
handful of oats

  • Stone dates. Put the flesh into a food processor and whizz until the contents of the bowl has stuck together into a big ball of mush. Remove and put into another bowl.
  • Repeat with prunes. Put the ball of mush in the bowl with the dates.
  • Repeat with cashews until they are ground. Put in bowl with dates & prunes.
  • Add a hefty teaspoon of tahini and a handful of oats to the bowl.
  • Using your hands, mix the mush together until combined.
  • This mixture isn't too sticky usually, so I can then turn it out and roll it on a work surface and then chop it into bars.
  • If your mixture is a bit sticky, it is easy to just shape them into bars using your hands. If the mixture is a sticky one and you have a stroppy toddler like I do, the Chap tends to reject it, so if you leave them a couple of days the outside dries a bit and he will then accept them.

Carrot & Apple Soda Bread

This is an adaptation of Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall's Parsnip & Thyme Bread, and is good when we reach a 'I will only eat bread or toast, thank you' phase, and is also good for getting cooked vegetables into him. You can easily replace the parsnips with any root veg you fancy, or, in this case, some fruit too. I haven't tried beetroot yet, but I am excited by the possibility of a jaunty pink loaf. You don't have to use gram flour, and can just use 175g normal self-raising, but gram flour, being from chickpeas, is high in protein, and with a baby that is awkward about meat, the more protein I can shoehorn into him the better.


175g carrot and apple (I used 3 carrots and one small Gala apple)
1 onion
150g self raising flour
25g gram flour
1 egg
1-3 tbsp milk
50g cheddar (or other hard cheese)

  • Chop onion and fry in a little oil for 10 mins or so until soft.
  • Grate carrot, apple and cheese. Add flour and salt.
  • Add softened onion.
  • Beat egg, and add most of it to the flour and mix to a soft dough (save the rest of the egg to glaze the loaf). If the dough appears dry, add 1 - 3 tbsps of milk.
  • Shape dough to a loaf and brush with egg (or an egg and milk mix)
  • Bake at 180 degrees for 40 - 45 mins, or until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.
Peanut noodles

A new addition to the Chap's repertoire, this is a) calorific, b) tasty and c) cheap, and is good for us to share for lunch. It's not good for under ones as it contains honey, and if you worry about your child eating salt or peanuts it's not for you. It works for us, however.


1 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp groundnut oil
1 tbsp honey
A squidge of garlic puree
1 portion noodles

  • Mix peanut butter, soy sauce, oil, honey and garlic puree to form the sauce
  • Cook noodles according to packet instructions.
  • Drain noodles and return to pan. Pour on sauce and heat through, stirring continuously.
Optional Step

The Chap is a bit suspicious about floppy noodles, so I then transfer the noodles to a frying pan and cook until they are firm on one side, then flip over and cook the other side so you end up with a loose noodle 'cake'.

1 comment:

  1. There is something in me which struggles to cope with the idea of a recipe containing tahini and oats. What next, I wonder, haggis moussaka? Baklava deep fried in batter?
    More seriously, worry not, he continues to grow and thrive - what more could you want?