After receiving many questions online from social media followers and blog readers about how to prepare food for babies and how to save time while doing it, Registered Dietitian Tara Rochford decided to share some of her favorite tips!
Here she is with more on how to meal prep for baby, what tools and equipment she loves for feeding her 1-year-old and a simple recipe the entire family can enjoy.
Introducing food to your little one can be very intimidating. Even as a dietitian, Tara was nervous about her daughter choking or having an allergic reaction. These are very normal things to be concerned about. When it comes to choking:
● Make sure baby is showing signs of readiness before introducing foods
● Make sure food is soft enough to be smashed between your fingers
● Cut food into the appropriate size and shape for your baby’s age
● Serve food sitting up
Cues to look for in baby before introducing food:
● Baby should be able to sit up independently
● The tongue thrust reflex is gone
● Baby should be able to grasp items and put it towards their mouth
● Baby should show interest in food that you are eating
● Roasted tofu
● Baby hummus
● Smashed blueberries (pincer grasp)
● Peas (pincer grasp)
● Chickpeas (pincer grasp)
A note on food allergies:
If your baby is at high risk for food allergies, which is something you can discuss with your care provider, it is currently recommended to introduce peanuts and eggs early and often. We aren’t sure about the efficacy of introducing other potential allergens early, but with peanut and eggs an introduction between 4 and 6 months and then regularity in the diet is linked with a decrease in allergies to these foods showing up.
Tips for introducing potential food allergens:
● Start early in the day, give yourself 2 hours to observe your baby.
● Start with a happy and healthy baby. You don’t want to confuse a cold or stomach bug for a food allergy.
● Do NOT serve whole peanuts, they are a choking hazard.
● Do NOT serve a large glob of peanut butter, this is a choking hazard.
● Peanut powder is a great way to introduce peanuts by mixing into breast milk, yogurt, applesauce, mashed banana, etc.
● When introducing eggs, make sure the whole egg is cooked.
● Scrambled eggs are a simple and easy way to give your baby eggs.
● There isn’t a ton of research on other allergenic foods (wheat, dairy, sesame, shellfish, fish, soy, tree nuts), but it is currently being conducted.
● Introducing other allergenic foods early looks appears to be safe, but we aren’t sure if it reduces the risk of allergies.
● Milk – blend into smoothies, yogurt
● Tree nuts – thinned nut butter, swap for peanut butter in recipes, almond flour in recipes
● Fish/shellfish – serve with soft rice
● Wheat – toast fingers with avocado thinly spread on top
● Soy – baked tofu fingers
● This site shares lots of ideas for introducing peanut foods.
Serving whole foods in addition to purees is a great way to introduce different textures to baby.
Yields: 1 cup applesauce
4 peeled and cored apples
1 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Cinnamon to taste, optional
- Peel the apples with a vegetable peeler, then core them and cut into large chunks.
- Place water in a large saucepan on high heat and cover with a lid. When the water is boiling, add the apples and lemon juice and cook for 5 minutes. The apples will be done when they are tender and slide right off a fork when pierced.
- Place the apples and cooking liquid in a food processor or high powered blender and blend until they are the desired consistency. Blend longer for creamy applesauce.
- Add a little cinnamon to taste if you want, or enjoy plain.
- Store the applesauce in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week.
Tara’s favorite items for feeding baby:
● EzPz Mini Mat
● Bumkins Chewtensils
● Sleeved Bibs
● Homemade Puree Flexible Freezer Tray
● Pre-Spoon Gootensil
● Baby Led Feeding Book
● Born to Eat Book
● Peanut Powder
● Tiny Cup
● Honeybear straw cup
Spinach and Herb Chicken Meatballs
1 lb ground chicken breast
1 cup baby spinach, chopped
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried chives
2 teaspoons dried parsley
¼ cup walnuts, ground into crumbs/flour using food processor
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, optional
½ teaspoon kosher salt (reduce if serving to very young babies)
¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenhet.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, combine the ground chicken, spinach, herbs, ground walnuts, red pepper if using, salt and pepper. You may want to use your hands here!
- Form the meatballs into golf ball sized balls and place on the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees.
- Remove from the oven and serve with your favorite vegetable or salad and a side of marinara sauce for dipping if desired.
Tips for saving time when preparing food for baby:
- Prep 1-2 breakfasts, 1-2 vegetables (like steamed broccoli or roasted sweet potatoes), and 1-2 main meals for the week
- Store extras in the freezer
- Don’t be afraid to repeat meals, babies don’t mind!
You can find these recipes and more from me at: tararochfordnutrition.com
Tara Rochford Nutrition on facebook and @TaraRochford on instagram