Porridge for infants is made by grinding uncooked rice, never oats. Oats should not be given to babies before they are 6 months old, because oats may contain a small amount of gluten, a potential allergen.
Root vegetables and squashes mash easily, are easy to digest and are naturally sweet, and make an ideal first food for babies. This recipe uses sweet potato but you can easily substitute for pumpkin, squash or carrot or make a mixture of them all. If you use less sweet vegetables like swede, turnip, cauliflower or celeriac you can add an equal quantity of puréed apple to make them less strong.
Ripe melon — cantaloupe, Galia, or honeydew — is easy to mash for babies. It has a mild flavour and complements other fruit well. Melon is high in water content, so you may not need extra liquid when it is puréed.
An omelette cooked this way — flat, like a pancake — is fabulous as a finger food, so it's suitable for baby-led weaning, if desired.
A very easy dip made from a fresh avocado. For younger babies, purée it. For older babies, mash the avocado with a fork. If you make it in advance, quickly cover the bowl with a double layer of clingfilm to delay the guacamole from turning brown. Because there is lemon juice in the dip, it is not suitable for babies under 12 months, but of course you can just leave it out for younger babies.
There are lots of stories about chicken soup being healing, and good for you if you have a cold. Chicken soup is definitely warming, and is very nutritious. Purée this soup for babies up to the age of 12 months; thereafter, make sure the chicken is chopped in very small pieces until your child is over 3 years old to prevent choking.
Butternut squash freezes really well. A whole squash will fill up a whole ice cube tray and give you extra to make a family meal. It is a very versatile vegetable, and delicious roasted.
This sauce is packed full of goodness, with its special selection of different-coloured vegetables to get the best mix of vitamins and minerals. This is a great sauce for all the family, and ideal to pour over cooked pasta.
Fish is a good source of protein, high in vitamins and minerals and quick to cook. Begin with white fish which is mild in flavour such as flounder, lemon sole, cod and haddock, and gradually introduce stronger-tasting oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and tuna. Oily fish contains high levels of mercury, so you should limit your baby's diet to one serving per week. Make sure that all the bones are removed, to avoid choking hazard.
This lovely hearty soup is great for cold weather. You can use any kind of very small pasta. Cut toast fingers or bread fingers to serve with it. They are lovely to dunk into the soup and eat with your fingers. If you are making this for the whole family, increase the quantities 3 or 4 times (for a family of 4–5).
As the name suggests, this soup is made with spring vegetables in season. It should be light and fresh-tasting. If you are making this for the whole family, double the quantities (for a family of 4–5).
Chicken is mild in flavour and a good form of protein to start your baby on. When it is puréed, however, it can be quite thick, so it will need a lot of liquid to thin it to a consistency easy for your baby to swallow. Adding root vegetables such as carrots helps make the chicken more palatable. If your baby is low in iron, replace the chicken breast with thigh meat, which is higher in iron.
This classic casserole includes lots of vegetables. It is a great meal for the whole family and easily adjusted for young babies.
Batter crêpes are delicious with fresh fruit and are very easy to make. Crêpesare ideal finger foods for a baby 9 months and older. Drizzle the crêpes with a little freshly squeezed orange juice.
This is a good way to use up leftover mashed potatoes. Potato farls are from Ireland and are sometimes known as potato cakes or tattie bread. They are a lovely alternative to sandwiches for toddlers. Cut them into small pieces to serve as a snack for babies and toddlers.
A delicious alternative to chips, these are baked in the oven and can be eaten with dips or as a side vegetable.
A classic meatloaf dish that can be crumbled for baby or sliced as a finger food for a toddler. It’s an all-round family favourite.
Fish cakes prepared at home are much nicer than ready-made ones. Serve with cooked vegetables like peas.
Classic chilli con carne, with the 'chilli' optional for little people. Make for the whole family and serve with a jar of hot chilli sauce on the side. Purée for babies under 9 months as beans could be a choking hazard. Serve with rice (puréed for younger babies), tortilla chips or sweet potato wedges.
Pre-prepared smoked mackerel fillets make this a quick and easy pâté. Make sure you remove all the bones and the skin. Mackerel is an oily fish that could contain mercury. Therefore we recommend you feed a baby (over 12 months) this recipe and other dishes containing oily fish only on an occasional basis. Despite the mercury content, it's important to remember that oily fish contains many wonderful nutrients for your baby, so it is good that they develop a taste for it. If you wish to make it for adults too, use one fillet per person.
Making your own fish fingers is great fun and they're even more delicious than shop bought ones.
Korma is a mild, creamy curry dish that's perfect for introducing kids to the flavour of spices and delicious for adults as well!
Making a cheese sauce to go with vegetables is an easy way to tempt children to eat vegetables. A cauliflower is a lot more tasty with a cheese sauce than on its own, and in the UK 'cauliflower cheese' is a popular comfort food. You can adapt the recipe by adding a little hot sauce to spice up the cheese sauce for adults sharing the meal or by sprinkling some grated Parmesan cheese on the top before grilling.
This is the basic tomato sauce from which so many favourites are created. As with all recipes that rely on the quality of a few ingredients for the best results, this sauce needs good olive oil and the sweetest tomatoes for the most perfect flavour.
This dish is always a popular family meal. Serve it with a crisp green salad for the adults.
This traditional Italian dish is a firm family favourite. The aubergine soaks up the flavours of the tomato and basil, the cheese melts and it is delicious with lots of crusty bread to soak up the juices.
These healthy bars are packed full of dried fruit, nuts and seeds. Do not give these to a baby under 12 months (the maple syrup is not safe for them). These bars are delicious without the nuts, so simply omit for a child with a nut allergy.
Instead of buying a packet of jelly, make your own with real fruit juice and fruit so children are eating food that is good for them as well as being great fun.
A fool is traditionally made with cooked, puréed fruit mixed with whipped cream and chilled. This version uses yoghurt and crème fraîche, making it a little healthier. Rhubarb is the only vegetable we eat as a fruit. (We eat the stalk of the plant, so it is a vegetable, as fruits contain the seeds of the plant.) Rhubarb can be a little slimy for young palates, so mixing it with the yoghurt makes it easier to eat. Hint: for older toddlers, try dunking raw fresh young rhubarb in brown sugar. It has a tangy citrus flavour.
These are delicious, quick and easy to make and very good on a hot day. Everyone loves them!
These fruity kebabs are gently cooked to release their juices and flavours. Grilled pineapple tastes so different to fresh! Remember to be careful with the skewers because they can be sharp and dangerous.
A classic dessert that will appeal to all ages, this recipe will make enough for the whole family, and is just as good the second day. It is delicious served with cream, ice cream or custard.
A compôte is usually made by slowly cooking fresh or dried fruit in a sugar syrup, which may include spices. In this recipe, sugar syrup is substituted for apple juice (for babies under 12 months) or orange juice. It can be served warm or chilled, for breakfast with muesli and yoghurt or for dessert with yoghurt, whipped cream or ice cream. It is a great way to encourage toddlers to eat fruit.
This is delicious and simple. Different varieties of apple are very different when cooked. Cooking apples tend to go mushier while eating apples keep their shape more and all have different flavours which means you can vary this just by baking different apples.
Biscotti are very hard, twice-baked Italian biscuits, which are ideal for dunking in frothy warm milk (a babyccino). For adults, serve with cappuccino or hot chocolate.
Cheese biscuits are lovely eaten warm from the oven, split in half and spread with butter, or eaten cold on a picnic or as part of a packed lunch.
Big on flavour and very easy to make, these cookies require no added sugar to sweeten them, relying on the natural fruit sugars in the bananas and dates. Made without wheat flour, they are perfect for anyone who wants a healthy, wheat-free snack.
Bananas are almost the perfect food. Fresh, they are easily carried in a bag, giving you an instant baby meal. All you need is a fork to mash the banana with. Choose ripe bananas as they are easier to mash than unripe bananas. Also, babies can have difficulty digesting unripe bananas.
Swede has a strong flavour, which makes it a good first food because it introduces babies to strong flavours from an early age. Adding some apple helps to tone down the strong flavour as well as adding a little sweetness. This purée freezes really well.
A very versatile sauce full of antioxidants and vitamins from the tomatoes. Serve with cooked pasta, rice or use as a dip or pizza sauce. Babies occasionally have an adverse reaction to tomatoes at this early stage, although others love them. Observe your baby carefully, and if there is any kind of allergic response, wait until after 12 months to reintroduce tomatoes.
Once your baby is 6 months old, you can offer yoghurt for breakfast. Natural full-fat yoghurt is the best option. Sweeten and flavour it by adding puréed fresh fruit.
The wholemeal flour used in this recipe contains more fibre than white flour. This fibre helps keep children fuller for longer and also helps stave off sugar cravings.
These cheese pastries are easy to make using ready-made puff pastry. Palmier is French for palm tree, and these pastries are in the shape of a palm leaf or butterfly. They are the same no matter what they are called, and guaranteed to please.
Bananas can be baked in the oven or grilled outdoors. They are delicious with vanilla ice cream and are just as nice on their own. They are lovely hot or cold.
These biscuits are delicious and very easy to make. Just be sure the mixture has cooled before you handle it so you don't burn your fingers!
This dish looks so pretty and is ideal for a quick family meal. Look for fresh farfalle instead of dried for an authentic touch.
The rich tomato base used for this pasta dish is extremely versatile and can be adapted for many uses.
Quick and easy to make with store cupboard staples, this delicious casserole will keep all the family happy.
This is a real favourite, popular with children as well as adults. Do make sure the tuna is canned in olive oil and is of the best possible quality for the most wonderful results. It's lovely with bucatini, but any shape of pasta will work, just use your favourite or whatever you have in the cupboard!
This hearty casserole makes a delicious family meal on cold winter evenings.
Use any squash for this wonderful dish; butternut or summer squash work well too. It's perfect for introducing more complex food and flavours to toddlers who love pureed pumpkin.
Butternut squash is one of the most versatile of all the vegetables. Its flavour blends with quinoa and rice to make these delicious patties. They're surprisingly delicious considering they're also very healthy!
Whet the appetite by serving this creamy bean dip with fresh, crunchy vegetable crudités: carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes and strips of red pepper go particularly well.
Homemade falafel are surprisingly easy to make and far more delicious than anything you can buy in the shops. They're delicious served with tzatziki, houmous and salad and make great food for little ones as they're highly nutritious and easy to pick up and eat.
These delicious mini pizzas are perfect for making for or with kids. Once you've made the dough even the littlest of hands can roll out their own base and add topping. And they're the perfect food for parties.