30 food ideas for your baby
Want to give your baby healthy, tasty meals and snacks but stuck for ideas? Read on for suggestions for breakfast, snacks, lunch and dinner.
It’s important to give your baby a varied, healthy diet. But it can be difficult coming up with inspiration for different meal ideas, especially if your baby is a fussy eater.
As a result, many parents understandably default to the same few, tried and tested dishes and snacks. To help you break out of your usual routine and introduce your baby to a wider range of healthy meals, we’re sharing 30 food ideas with you in this article.
Seven breakfast ideas for babies
For many of us, breakfast includes sweet foods – pancakes with syrup or sugar, toast and marmalade, sweet cereal or croissant and jam. But when it comes to choosing breakfast for a baby, most parents opt for sugar-free foods as much as possible.
Here are some breakfast ideas for your baby:
- Scrambled eggs and toast soldiers
- Unsweetened porridge with fruit
- Low sugar cereal with fresh fruit
- Mashed banana with toast soldiers
- Toast soldiers with peanut butter
- Cubes of cheese and fruit
- English muffin spread with soft cheese
Eight snack ideas for babies
Once babies reach nine months old they can start to become hungry between meals, and you may decide to give them snacks.
You can serve them pretty much any mashable food in short strips or cut into tiny, pea-sized pieces. Try to include at least two different food groups to give them a balanced, healthy snack.
Here are some snack ideas for your baby:
- Soft fruit such as banana, blueberries, kiwi, pears, raspberries with yoghurt
- Steamed vegetables such as sweet potatoes, broccoli, carrots and runner beans with pasta
- Hummus and sweet pepper sticks
- A hard boiled egg with toast
- Soft, cooked pasta and tuna
- Toast and peanut butter
- Slices of ham or turkey with cucumber
- Rice crackers with cheese
Six lunch ideas for babies
For lunch you might need to pack food for your baby at nursery or lunch on the go if you’re out and about. You may decide to make things easy for yourself with a healthy, pre-prepared pouch like those from Serenity Kids, or you may choose to put together a lunch box yourself.
Here are some lunch ideas for your baby:
- Tuna roll with tomato
- Carrot and lentil soup
- Pesto pasta with peas
- Chicken and sweetcorn pasta
- Egg sandwich
- ‘Pizza’ wrap
Seven dinner ideas for babies
At the end of the day, you want to give your baby a healthy, hearty meal that will (hopefully!) help keep them full and content until morning. It’s also a chance to experiment with different flavours and textures to help broaden their palette.
Here are some dinner ideas for your baby:
- Spaghetti bolognese
- Mashed sweet potato with cauliflower
- Shepherd’s pie with vegetables
- Mild chicken curry and rice
- Courgette and broccoli risotto
- Beef and vegetable casserole
- Steamed salmon and couscous
What can you do if your baby is a fussy eater?
It’s all well and good sharing different ideas for meals and snacks for your baby. But what if they don’t like them?
If your baby is fussy, try not to worry. It’s normal for babies to refuse to eat or even try new foods. Over time, their palette will expand and, as long as they are eating some foods from the four main food groups, gaining weight and seem well, then they should be getting enough from their diet.
The four main food groups are:
- Fruit and vegetables
- Starchy carbohydrates like potatoes, bread, rice and pasta
- Dairy or dairy alternatives
- Beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins
The key to helping children expand their diet is to gradually introduce new foods and keep returning to the foods they didn’t like before.
Remember that children’s tastes change over time; one day they may HATE something, and a month later they can love it. So keep offering them a wide variety of different foods, with the understanding that it might take lots of tries before they accept some of them.
It can be disheartening watching your baby spit out and reject food you have lovingly cooked for them. So you may want to try pouches of nutritionally balanced food prepared specifically for babies. You can browse some of the wide range of different meals available on myserenitykids.com.
Tips to help your child try new food
Here are some tips to help you encourage your child to try new types of food:
- Eat with your baby as much as you can so they see you enjoying food
- Cook food for your whole family that your baby can eat, and serve them the same food as you (minus any salt!)
- Give your baby small portions and praise them for eating – even if it’s not a lot
- Don’t get angry if they won’t eat something; just take it away without saying anything and try another time
- Don’t leave mealtimes until your baby is too tired, hungry or grouchy to eat
- Don’t hurry your child up if they are a slow eater; let them take their time
- Don’t fill them up with snacks between meals (two healthy snacks a day is enough)
- Don’t use sweet food as a reward, instead find other ways to incentivise them
- Make mealtimes fun and chatty to take some of the pressure and focus off eating
- Invite people with babies who eat well round for lunch or dinner and let your baby observe how they enjoy their food
- Make your meals look appetising and fun by decorating their plate, turning food into pictures or serving it in unusual containers
- Change the format of food, for example by grating cheese or carrot rather than serving it as sticks or slices
And finally, remember that while these weeks and months may feel like they last forever, this is just one stage in your baby’s life.
Even if they do struggle to try new things now, they will grow up and be more curious about food. One day, they will surprise you by willingly eating mushrooms, avocado, cauliflower and other foods you can never imagine them liking now!
Photo by Derek Owens