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Have you come searching for baby led weaning recipes? I made an ebook to share my favorites, but first I want to tell you a little about my story in finding this style of eating.
I hear so many moms talking about the struggles they have with getting their kids to eat healthy foods. Sometimes they have only a few select types of fruit they'll eat or they won't touch vegetables or they just want to eat nuggets and pizza. So many parents end up making different meals for their kids just to get them to put some food in their stomachs, often hiding vegetables in their entrees or desserts.
Most of those parents are people who appreciate a wide range of foods and just want their kids to be healthy without fighting to get them to eat.
I want to help.
Are you finding yourself in this super common nightly battle at the end of a long day... You spend time making a healthy meal and then no one wants to eat it. You find yourself negotiating eating just a little bit of one thing so your kid can get to the thing she really wants to eat, and hearing yourself say it is like listening to fingernails on a chalkboard. It's not what you want to say, but you're tired and you just want the kid to eat something healthy.
How did you get to this place?
A lot of health-conscious moms I know started out steaming and then pureeing everything for their new eaters, and the whole process took forever. They would freeze the leftovers in ice cube trays and then when the next meal time came, defrost a cube and sit with the baby to spoon feed him dinner.
Other moms opted for organic baby food in jars and bypassed the pureeing. With both, when it came time to transition to real foods, they'd move to tiny chunks of food to whole food and just hope they'd take to eating different kinds of food. They also wonder if it's the right amount of food-- how can you really tell when it's you in charge of the spoon and not the person eating it?
This is what we're all taught is the right way to feed babies, but what if there's another way?
I didn't want to argue with my children to get them to eat healthy food and I didn't want to hide vegetables in their food just to get them to eat greens. I didn't want to spoon-feed them and mix flavors together to get them to try peas. I didn't want an older child who refused to eat dinner so I'd have to make a peanut butter sandwich so they wouldn't starve.
Overall, I wanted my kids to respect healthy food, choose it when given multiple options, and to eat without emotional attachment to their meals.
I found my perfect solution in baby led weaning.
When I first heard about the concept of feeding a 6-month-old a whole piece of fruit I was freaked out but... intrigued. Wouldn't the baby choke? How could they eat something when they barely had teeth yet? But, on the other hand, a baby who learns to eat real food early would probably be more accustomed to different flavors and textures and could help me avoid the dreaded dinner dance.
I have long believed in the concept of real food and how it nourishes us deeply; not just physically, but also psychologically, connecting us to the Earth and the beings around us. I think there's nothing better we can do than to eat a plant-based diet, and I wanted to instill that same thought process into my children.
So I researched more about baby led feeding (a better term than weaning I think) and then when it came time to feed her food, I dove in.
When I started this process with my first kid, it was in 2013. Since then I've had two more kids. And, they all eat just about everything I put in front of them.
As toddlers, they helped me cook or played nearby while I cooked and when I put our meals in front of them, they'd dive in and say, "mmmm!" They are in full control; they eat as much as they want and stop eating when they're done. Even on desserts and snacks-- if they feel full halfway through they stop right there.
Of course, they have individual preferences and there are certain foods they don't like every single way I prepare them, but I still make them and offer dispassionately, "do you just want to try it?"
I read once that a person has to be exposed to a new food 7 times before they develop a taste for it. Every so often one of them will suddenly like something that they consistently told me they didn't like before, "I like mushrooms tonight!" So, I never take them at their word for it if they don't enjoy asparagus the first time they taste it.
It's not a struggle or a battle or a dance, and that's how I always imagined our food life. It's peaceful and calm and simply... eating. I'm hopefully not attaching emotional responses to our food and I'm hopefully teaching my kids that when we eat real food from the Earth and cook it ourselves, we nourish ourselves and keep the world healthy.
I see my feeding job as this: I provide a wide variety of healthy, plant foods like whole grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds and they eat as much or as little as they wants of them. I choose the food, where we eat and when we eat it and the kids choose how much they eat.
When I was starting out I didn't find anyone offering baby led weaning recipes for vegans. I ended up just making my regular recipes and adapting them to suit her needs. That worked for us.
All of my recipes are adult recipes that fed my children as babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and now. These are the same recipes I serve guests. These aren't recipes for disguising vegetables in other forms; these are real recipes that we eat often.
I very badly want the whole world to eat this way. In my utopian world, no one eats animal products anymore. Not only does that save millions of animal lives annually, but it saves humans from developing degenerative diseases that could have been prevented with a different lifestyle. If it happened tomorrow we could even have a chance of restoring our natural environment and reversing climate change.
Though I may never see that in my lifetime, if this book can help even a few people to feed their children in a sustainable way that they carry with them through their lives, we've made a difference.
It worked for us.
My kids love a wide variety of healthy, plant-based foods. They eats things people are shocked to see like kale, asparagus, quinoa, amaranth, lentils, salads, olives, and love them just as much as they love the occasional dessert we have.
Now we have 60 kid-tested vegan recipes that are healthy, quick, and simple, and perfect for baby led feeding.
It's for you too!
I designed the book for really new eaters so their parents could avoid eating issues completely. But an unexpected thing happened during recipe testing... moms of picky eaters said their kids loved the vegan baby led weaning recipes!
Even if you already dealt with all these eating issues, these would be good options for feeding your family. Check out a few things the recipe testers told me: