I’m going to let you in on a little secret...
How much food should you offer baby?
The meals I'll present below show which foods you can serve, but they don't represent how much your baby should be eating.
I recommend that you feed your baby no more than 2-3 pieces of food at a time for a few reasons. First, this helps keep things simple and not overwhelm them. Second, it helps you reduce waste if they don't eat their whole plate at one sitting. And lastly, you avoid the often inevitable "swipe it all on the floor" move which we all know too well. And after they eat what is on their plate, you can always offer them more servings of food.
And don't forget, mealtime is also a great time to practice baby sign language together. Learning how to communicate with each other will help ease frustration at mealtimes as you'll know if they want "more" or are "all done".
My Top 5 Baby Meal Ideas
#1 Pulled Pork in the Crockpot
I highly recommend cooking meals in the crockpot since it saves you time and effort in preparing something delicious for your family. For baby's portion of this crockpot pulled pork, make sure to serve your baby a piece of meat that is very tender and soft, from the inside of the pork (without salt on it).
For a side, I like to offer roasted pepper, and onions and some watermelon sliced into vertical strips. To prep the peppers and onions, put a few slices into the oven in a foil packet with some olive oil. This way, the veggies are steamed inside, which helps soften them all the way through. Roast at 400°F for about 30 minutes, or until they are very soft. For the rest of the family, you can roast the veggies as you usually would.
Then, slice and serve some fresh watermelon– with little slivers of the fruit for baby to hold and eat.
#2 Spinach Omelet and Toast
Eggs are a great option for any meal of your choosing. You can serve them up for a family breakfast, late afternoon lunch, or a delicious and complete dinner.
I made this omelette using finely chopped spinach which I mixed in along with the eggs and cooked together using unsalted butter. Then I portioned it into slices and served baby's portion with some soft toast on the side. (Bread that’s hard or well-toasted can be hard on babies’ soft mouths, and it makes it too easy for them to take a bigger bite than they can properly chew and swallow.)
#3 Rice and Beans with Avocado/Veggies
Rice and beans is a delicious, healthy and budget-friendly option that can satisfy everyone at once. For baby's portion, cook your rice in water and add-in some unsalted mashed pinto beans to create a sticky texture that baby can grab onto for easy bites.
Serve it together with a thinly sliced peeled tomato, or an avocado. When giving baby an avocado, if you leave some of the peel attached, it will help them grip it to eat so it doesn't slip through their tiny little fingers. Or you can mash up the avocado and offer baby a spoon to practice scooping it up with, too.
#4 Mango & Lime Pollock
If your family is craving some fish tacos, you can easily adapt baby's meal at the same time! For the fish here, I chose pollock because its a low-mercury choice for young babies. (For more low-mercury seafood ideas check out this post). When preparing the fish, sauté your pollock in avocado oil, cut a small, baby-sized piece, and squeeze lime on it. Serve it with a slice of mango on the side, and be sure to give your baby the piece of lime to taste too!
#5 Pasta & Turkey Meatballs
Who doesn't like a classic dish like spaghetti and meatballs? You can use any recipe you like to prepare the meatballs, but serve baby's portion with no-salt-added tomato sauce with added olive oil. And make sure the pasta is cooked (not al-dente) so that it's soft for them. Lastly, add a piece of fruit and you're done! In this meal, I chose to offer baby some cantaloupe.
Have a recipe or mealtime idea that you love for the whole family?
We'd love to hear it! Share your favorite mealtime idea for baby (and your family) in the comments below!
Kacie is a mom of two and a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with her Masters of Clinical Nutrition. Kacie offers e-guides and e-books, workshops and brand partnerships. Her blog offers nutrition and feeding tips for your little ones. For those looking for more baby-feeding help, her guide Simply Solids is a research-backed resource that will help you get your baby to 3 meals a day, eaten independently, by the time they turn one! Visit her website for more tips and follow her on Instagram.