It has been a busy six months at Tickle Buds HQ having just launched earlier this year! But on a more personal note for our co-founder Emma, it has been a very special year as she has also welcomed her new little baby boy into the world. In February this year, Louis, Emma’s second son was born…………..which means 6 months later it’s weaning time!
Emma and Louis will be sharing their weaning adventure as part of our Tickle Buds Blog series. Follow Louis’ weaning story for the ups and downs of their journey, some of Emma’s great new recipe ideas and all the little hiccups of first foods.
And we’re off…..
Louis has officially started on solids and just getting to this point feels like quite an achievement. It means we’ve all survived his first six months which is remarkable in itself but also Louis’ weaning journey, despite our best efforts, suffered from a couple of false starts.
Our first attempt to introduce Louis to the world of food was very short lived. He was ready, (he’d been starring at us munching down meals with such jealously for the fast few weeks it was starting to feel like we were torturing him), he was eager and he was bibbed and grasping a spoon. In an attempt to be very organised I’d earlier prepared a simple carrot puree only to realise just how unorganised I actually am as at the crucial moment I discovered I had nothing to sit him in. Our highchair was inconveniently 120 miles north in my sisters kitchen where I had left it for my niece’s own weaning journey. Mission aborted!
High chair retrieved and the following week I again felt ready to take the leap but a little niggly cough that Louis had been suffering with suddenly got worse. A trip to the doctors confirmed a throat infection. The little fella was struggling to swallow milk so introducing him to the delights of a pear would have to wait another week.
And so here we are. Third time lucky? After quite a build up Louis’ weaning has begun….at least I think it has! Louis doesn’t seem to have actually swallowed much (anything!) yet. We’re four days in and I’ve sat him down once a day. I’ve made the decision to go for simple fruit and veg purees (avoiding baby rice) and I’ve made carrot, butternut squash and today apple. Each time I’m met with a slightly aghast (actually, disgusted) reaction as soon as the puree touches his lips. Now I remember this with my eldest son, Ralph, that a mouthful of food is more likely to be spat out rather than swallowed, it’s all part of the learning process. But I’d forgotten how long this stage actually lasts and also that it’s slightly demoralising! A sweet potato simply boiled and blitzed can’t taste that bad, can it??
So I’ll continue to puree and I’ll continue to pull enthusiastic faces as every spoonful dribbles down his chin rather than eagerly swallowed. And I’ll repeat to myself not to worry as I do know it’s very early days and that Louis will learn at his own pace.
Just one little mouthful would reassure me though….one small sign of enjoyment would tell me things will be okay…. Nope, nothing! Louis weaning adventure may well have started but I think it may take a while!!
Following on from last week’s blog post on batch cooking we wanted to post our quickfire weaning interview questions to Emma Le Roux, founder of the brilliantly handy Super Squish pouches for weaning and beyond. If you love home cooking as much as we do and want to find an easy way for your little one to eat your home cooked goodness on the go, we can’t recommend Super Squish pouches enough. They are easy to use and can be refilled over and over again, perfect for days out!
We were lucky enough to bump into the lovely Emma at The Baby Show in Olympia and were delighted to be able to find out her top weaning tips and favourite recipes.We love that Emma is a fellow batch cooker and lover of home made food! Over to Emma…..
Tell us about you
I’m Emma, originally from South Africa, a lover of the outdoors and adventure, who is trying to balance life as a working from home mum! I’m also the founder of Super Squish – fun, reusable food pouches for babies and little kids, which were conceptualised when I was weaning my son. I noticed that he absolutely loved the ready filled store bought pouches and I was desperate to find a way to take my homemade weaning food out with me in something similar, so he’d gulp it down as quickly!
Tell us about your little one
My son, Oliver, is 5 and is the inspiration behind Super Squish. He’s also obsessed with all things Lego, especially superheroes! I now understand the pain of stomping on a stray Lego brick unintentionally!
What is the one piece of knowledge you wish you’d known before you started weaning your baby?
That babies are all different and, just like grownups, often have a preference for some foods over others. Don’t worry if your little one doesn’t like something. Don’t stress, just move on and try something else in the meantime. You can always try it again in a little while. My son would not touch avocado, no matter what I tried (he still won’t today!) and yet most of my friends babies loved them!
What helped you the most during your weaning journey? Being prepared as much as possible. I used to batch cook food in advance for the week, freeze in ice cube trays, and store in freezer bags ready for when I needed them. I’d try to prepare the menu in advance for the week, so that I wasn’t winging it all the time. I loved the guidelines in Gina Ford’s weaning book – it was helpful to have an idea of what to introduce when.
What did you find hardest during weaning?
Hoping that I was doing it right and learning to trust that I was! Mother’s angst I suppose. Suddenly you realise you the one who is responsible for introducing your baby to food and it was daunting in the beginning. But then I quickly realised that all my friends were in a similar position and relying on each other for ideas and support was so helpful.
What was the best piece of equipment you found which helped make life easier for you or your little one when you were weaning them? Apart from my hand blender, I loved the Foogo food flask from Thermos. I could heat up food and take it with me. I still have it today 5 years later and it works perfectly, although I’ve had to upgrade to a larger one to hold enough to satisfy a 5 year old’s appetite!
Can you recommend or share a favourite recipe? I love a fish pie. It’s probably best to leave out smoked fish for little ones as it has a strong flavour. My son loved eating a variation of this Fish Pie when he was little. We have loads more recipes which we both love over on our Super Squish Recipe Page.
Emma has very kindly teamed up with Tickle Buds to offer all of our lovely customers a 10% discount on their first purchase from Super Squish Pouches. Simply enter the code Ticklebuds10 at the checkout.
We are big fans of batch cooking! It’s lovely to know that there is something in your fridge or freezer, cooked by you, ready to simply re-heat when your day has gone crazy. Cooking a week’s worth of food for your baby all at once may seem daunting at first, but it can really help if you are short on time.
Setting aside a few hours at the weekend to plan and cook food for the week ahead for your little one can make a busy week a lot easier and knowing your baby is getting good quality home cooked, healthy and nutritious food means there is at least one less worry.
Once you have cooked your extra food portions, puree or mash the food to the right texture, depending on the age of your little one. Then cover and set aside to allow the food to cool to room temperature before freezing. And when you need it simply remove the portion of food from the freezer and place it in the fridge to thaw. It’s important to reheat the food thoroughly before serving, and if you are using a microwave give it a good stir before you serve it in order to avoid hot spots.
Make sure not to freeze anything that has already been frozen and discard any of the re-heated food which has not been eaten. As a general rule batch cooked food placed in the fridge should be eaten within 3 days and batch cooked food placed in the freezer should be eaten within 3 months.
Top tips to ensure your fridge of freezer are filled with portions of home cooked food for baby:
- Make extra portions of anything you can! When cooking an easy meal like spaghetti bolognaise for the family, get into the habit of making extra portions and storing them in the freezer (remember to only add salt to the adult part of the meal)
- Cook extra Veggies: If you are making vegetables for dinner, cook a few extra for your baby. Separate them out and puree or mash them to your desired texture and store them in the fridge of freezer for later.. You can either serve these direct to your younger weaners as vegetable purees or add the puree sauces to pasta dinners for a bit of extra veggie goodness.
- Potato wedges and mash: Bake or roast an extra potato or two when the rest of your family is eating. Once they are cooked, mash and pop them in the fridge or freezer for later – instant potato wedges or instant mash! It just needs to be heated up.
- Mass puree fruit: Cook up large batches of fruit and puree them. You can store these in your freezer and then pop them in the microwave when you need them. Useful for an extra boost of fruit in the morning to add to porridge or cereal, to serve with custard or rice pudding for a yummy lunchtime pudding or to make into a homemade smoothie as healthy afternoon snack. (See our next blog for recipe ideas for home made smoothies for babies and toddlers).
- Using baby weaning pots: In the early days it is useful to invest in baby weaning pots so you can keep your freezer organised. I tried a variety of ways of freezing purees from using the pots I already had (generally too big), using plastic bags (ok but still a little tricky with such small portions) and using ice cube trays. If you are reluctant to buy specific weaning pots, ice cube trays are a good option and work at the start. Despite being more pricey, I found investing in some weaning pots designed for babies did make life a lot easier (the purees were easier to remove when needed and the size of the pots were much more suitable for weaning).
- Label everything: even if you think you’ll remember you probably won’t! And often one mashed up pot of food can look very similar to another!! Include the names and dates and use up everything within 3 months.
All our Tickle Buds recipes boxes are designed to make batch cooking easier! Every new recipe provides at least four portions of each meal and there are three to four recipes in each box. Plenty for both the fridge and the freezer! Find our more here.
Guest post and recipes from Joanna Rae of Jo’s Healthy Cupboard
At risk of sounding bah humbug, I’m going to talk about healthy-ing up kids’ parties this month.
I can’t be the ONLY parent who has a sense of fear when a multiple party weekend commences. How do you tame a sugar induced five year old who’s attended two back-to-back birthday parties with copious amounts of cake and sugary sweets?
For me there is a certain dread that looms when I’m organising the food for my son’s birthday party…
I love parties! I’m an organiser and I enjoy planning, invites, food, décor BUT I feel really stuck when it comes to food. Do I go down the healthy route and risk being seen as THAT annoying mum who always does the healthy thing and risk the kids not enjoying the food OR do I stick with what’s expected at a kid’s party.
Last year I made a standard sponge cake decorated with ‘normal’ icing and all the usual party foods with some healthier little treats on the side like popcorn, homemade smoothies and sweet potato brownies, humus and veg sticks. This year, it was just family so I made a healthy chocolate cake with chocolate avocado icing and some other sugar free treats.
What is the balance between keeping the kids happy and keeping them healthy???
I recently had great success providing healthier cake for a friend who’s son was turning 4 and this has given me the confidence to stick with more healthy, fun and appealing food for my son’s future parties. I am so grateful to my friend for being the first mum who came to me and said, “Can you healthy-up a birthday cake and treats for my four year olds birthday?” I won’t lie… I was PETRIFIED. My friend has VERY high standards and I’d avoided promoting my cakes as suitable for kids parties until this challenge.
She had the idea of a chocolate beetroot cake, which I spent some time researching and a few attempts at making and trying with family and friends. I wanted to get the taste and texture right and tried a few different flours until I was happy. The result was a gluten-free, dairy and cane sugar free chocolate beetroot cake with chocolate avocado icing and ‘free from’ chocolate buttons on top.
I also made banana bread and sweet potato brownies cut into little cubes with the same principle (gluten, dairy, cane sugar free). That is a total of 3 cakes with a fruit or vegetable included…. Not bad for a kids party!!
The best feedback I had from the party was that one little boy who had an egg allergy was able to enjoy birthday cake without any worries and the parents and kids scoffed down the cake in equal quantities. It was my first kid’s party hit!
I am really passionate about helping mum’s create healthier options. Reducing sugar has been the thing I’ve tried hardest with for my own family and I hope some of these ideas are helpful. My biggest piece of advice would be to make party food yourself whenever you can because you know what is in it. These ideas have all been tried and tested with my family/friends and my own son who is five.
Chocolate Krispie Squares
A healthier twist on a traditional classic party treat
- 3 dessert spoons coconut oil
- 3 dessert spoons almond butter
- 1 dessert spoon cacao powder (depending how chocolaty you like it)
- 2 spoons maple syrup
- 3 cups rice krispies
- 1 cup of oats
- 1 cup chopped dates or raisins is you prefer
- Melt the coconut oil, almond butter, maple syrup and mix together
- Add cacao powder, rice krispies, oats and chopped dates
- Mix everything together until all krispies and oats are coated with mixture
- Add more krispies/oats if it seems too wet
- Pour mix into a baking tray and press down flat
- Put in the fridge for 30 -40 mins and cut into squares once hard
Chocolate snow balls
These are just like chocolate truffles minus the sugar
- 1 cup of dates (pre-soaked if using pitted dates)
- 1 dessert spoon cacao powder
- 2-3 dessert spoons coconut oil (melted)
- 1 cup desiccated coconut
- ½ cup coconut flour
- 1 cup almonds
- Extra desiccated coconut for rolling
- Blitz almonds, desiccated coconut, coconut flour and cacao powder in food processor.
- Pour in coconut oil and dates and blitz again until it all starts coming together
- Add a little more coconut oil or water until it all comes together in a big blob
- Pull off little bits of mix and roll into balls.
- Pour some desiccated coconut onto a plate
- Roll balls in coconut
- Place in an airtight container in the fridge.
Fruit ice lollies
For a summer party these would make a great treat and contain very little sugar
- 250g raspberries or strawberries
- ½ a banana
- 200mls yoghurt of choice
- 1-2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey
- Splash of milk of choice
- Whizz up the fruit, yoghurt and honey in a blender
- Taste and add a little more honey is needed.
- Divide into 4/5 ice lolly moulds, then pop a stick in each
- Put lollies in the freezer for 4 hours until solid.
Sweet potato brownies
Another classic kids party treat, which include the wonderful, versatile sweet potato
1 mug dates (soaked in hot water first if not majool dates)
- 2 cooked (cooled) sweet potatoes
- 3-4 dessert spoons maple syrup
- 3 dessert spoons raw cacao powder
- 1 teacup GF oat flour
- 1 teacup coconut flour
- 1 teaspoon GF baking powder
- 3 dessert spoons coconut oil (melted)
- Coconut milk
- Blitz cooked sweet potato with dates and coconut oil in a food processor. Add maple syrup, cacao powder and blitz until smooth with no lumps
- Pour mixture into a mixing bowl and add dry ingredients: coconut flour, oat flour, and baking powder. Add a couple of spoons of coconut milk or a bit more until you get a thick batter like consistency. Mix well with a spoon
- Coat baking tray with melted coconut oil and pour mix into tray.
- Bake in oven at 180 degrees for 15 minutes or until cooked but still squidgy in the centre.
- Once brownies have cooled, you can make y°our own chocolate (coconut oil, cacao powder and maple syrup) to cover the brownies or melt dark chocolate and pour over the top.
- Place in the fridge to cool.
Mini cheese scones
- 225g wholemeal self-raising flour or gluten free oat flour
- 1 teaspoon GF baking powder
- 55g butter or veggie alternative
- 150 mls milk of choice
- 30g grated cheese (I like a mix of Parmesan and cheddar)
- Mix flour and butter together using fingers until you get a crumbly texture
- Pour in milk and mix with wooden spoon
- Add grated cheese and mix again
- Break off small piece of mixture and place on a baking tray with grease proof paper
- Bake in the oven at 180 degrees for 15- 20 mins.
It’s the start of a new week and the sun’s out, so we thought we would share one of our favourite spring vegetable recipes: a lovely nutritious risotto that is really quick and easy to make!
This has become a staple in our house, my twins really took to it from about 8 months. It’s a super easy dish to make and it looks lovely and bright when it’s cooked making it an exciting new prospect for our little foodie adventurers. And for our baby led weaners, keep some courgette aside – courgette sticks are perfect for tiny fingers.
2 Spring Onions
100g Arborio Rice
1 Vegetable Stock Cube
25g Grana Padano Cheese
Chop the courgette in half and then length ways into sticks. Chop the remaining half into small, baby bite-size pieces.
Either in a steamer or in a pan with a little water, cook the courgette sticks for 5 minutes, or until soft. If cooking in a pan with water, drain well. Set aside – these will be finger foods.
Meanwhile, finely slice the spring onions, discarding the root but using most of the green tips. Heat a little oil or butter in a pan, over a medium heat and gently fry the onion until soft. Add a little more oil or butter to the pan and add the rice. Stir for 2 minutes until it turns opaque.
Dissolve the vegetable stock cube in 500ml of boiled water. Add a ladle of the hot stock to the rice pan and stir continuously.
Once the stock has been absorbed by the rice, repeat the process with another ladleful of stock. Keep stirring and adding stock until ⅔ of the stock has been absorbed by the rice. This should take around 10 minutes.
Finely chop the parsley including the stalks and add it to the pan, along with the chopped courgette and the peas.
Add the final ⅓ of the stock, a ladleful at a time, and gently cook until each ladleful of the stock is absorbed and the rice cooked through.
Grate the cheese and add ¾ to the risotto and stir to melt. Remove from the heat and serve each portion of risotto with a sprinkling of the remaining cheese and the courgette fingers.
It’s BLOODY HARD WORK being a mum! This week I’ve had several mummy fails including sending my husband and son to a birthday party two hours before it started…. AND making spinach scones my son refused to try!
We do our best as mums but we spend too much time worrying about the things we do wrong, the latest research that says energy light bulbs are dangerous or rice cakes aren’t good for us, or we shouldn’t leave our babies to cry….
Let’s STOP right there and think about what we are doing right for our little ones. Think about five things you’ve done today that are positive and write that STUFF down. Remind yourself that you’re an awesome mum right here, right now!!
Now, lets think about what we can do more of, instead of berating ourselves for the things we need to do less of. My purpose on TickleBuds is to focus on the small things we can do to make life a little healthier and tastier for our families.
This month, it’s about the ‘snacking’. Lets face it, snacking is an important part of the day for most little ones… It’s part of their routine and keeps their energy levels up until their next meal. My son is 4 and he has 1-2 snacks a day (as long as he’s eaten his main meals). These usually happen mid morning and if he’s hungry early afternoon.
I try REALLY hard with snacks to offer my son things like fruit, natural yoghurt, dried fruit and nuts, humous, homemade nut butter, and oatcakes. These are options that I know he likes but don’t contain vast amounts of ‘added sugar’.
Don’t get me wrong he also enjoys a treat from a packet such as pom bears, or a barney bear now and then!!! Why is everything a bear?? BUT there’s no substitute for homemade snacks, using whole food ingredients. I want you to know it’s actually really easy AND you know exactly what you’re putting in the snacks you make!!
When I was little I loved things like chocolate spread, pop tarts and frosties but I’ve steered clear of these with my son because I know it’s up to me to help him make better choices and not always resort to something in a packet because it’s quick and easy.
Something I wanted to recreate recently was “nutella” after my son saw it in Sainsbury’s and asked if he could have some. With a whopping 227g of sugar in a 400g jar. That’s more than half the total ingredients weight!!! Plus a massive 8.5g sugar in a 15g tablespoon I wasn’t going to start that habit!!
I set myself a challenge to make my own “nutella” sweetened naturally with dates and a small amount of maple syrup. These are the results, which both make delicious toddler snacks!
150g whole hazelnuts
1 mug of soaked dates
3 dessert spoons coconut oil (melted)
2 dessert spoons cacao powder
1 dessert spoon of maple syrup
2 dessert spoons of water
Add the nuts to the food processor with the cacao powder and blend for a few minutes until the nuts are a crumbly consistency but not quite a powder. Then add dates, coconut oil and maple syrup and blend again. Check the consistency and add water if needed. You want it to be a thick consistency but not so hard that it won’t spread. Transfer the mix into an old jar or pot with a lid and keep in the fridge. It will last 5-7 days in the fridge.
We like to spread our chocolate spread onto oatcakes, rice cakes or chopped banana.
Chopped banana and almond butter
Another favourite snack, which doesn’t even require the food processor, is chopped banana with almond butter or peanut butter. My son regularly asks for this. The bananas are sweet and the almond butter adds a little crunch and it’s a fun snack. Almonds are a rich source of vitamins and minerals and they provide energy for these busy little people.
**To check out more of Jo’s healthy living ideas and recipes visit her Facebook Page**
We want to make your life easy, save you time, worry and stress, so you have more time to spend having fun with your family! All our boxes contain new recipe ideas and fresh pre-measured ingredients and are delivered free and direct to your door, ready for you to cook healthy, nutritious meals for your little one.
Recently launched by two local Mums, Emma and Helen, Tickle Buds is the UK’s first recipe box service exclusively for babies and toddlers. With the help of a nutritionist, the age appropriate recipes are all designed to offer little ones a great start into the world of solid food. And with no more worry, no shopping to do, no wastage and no more boring food, Tickle Bud’s recipe boxes are here to make your life easier too. Come see how Tickle Buds can help you out, win a free recipe box and sample some recipes on the first two Sunday’s in April.
If you are looking for a pancake day recipe for your little ones, look no further! The blueberries and bananas are mashed into the batter mix so this mixture is suitable for our very littlest tickle buddies!
Improving your overall wellbeing does not require a GIANT leap from where you are …
It’s the small, smart choices you make on a daily basis (and continue to make) that help you feel good in the key areas of your life; health, relationships, finances or anything else for that matter.
There is no such thing as overnight success or a quick fix when it comes to your health, weight, relationships, happiness or finances. Those who feel good and have positive relationships work consistently to make that happen.
I’m passionate about the power of small choices and encouraging others to take tiny steps in the direction they wish to travel. This is why I’ve teamed up with Tickle Buds and will share some of the small choices I’ve made since becoming a mum that have a positive impact on my life.
Does this sound familiar?
You’re woken by the sound of tiny feet entering your bedroom at some ungodly hour, you heave a sigh, pull back the covers and let small person clamber into bed. You get about three hours of battered, broken sleep and wake up with a sleep deprivation hangover (no alcohol involved) …
You get up, rush downstairs, unload the dishwasher, which you left on last night, get a healthy breakfast ready for small people, iron clothes, dress small people and dash out realising they forgot to brush their teeth and you didn’t eat A THING.
You feel irritable, harassed and HANGRY as you bundle everyone into the car…
You arrive at nursery or pre-school, say goodbye to small people and rush to the nearest coffee shop to grab a large, extra shot latte and a blueberry muffin to keep you going for the rest of the morning…
This is a habit I found myself in more often than not and I’m sure I’m not alone.
NEWSFLASH….. you need to take care of yourself first!! If you’re not functioning properly, your family won’t either and if you’re not eating breakfast your children will inevitably end up not doing the same!
Make one small choice….
Get up earlier to eat breakfast OR just eat breakfast…
Okay, you may be thinking NO WAY get up earlier I need my sleep!!!
I promise if you try this your day is going to start calmly and you’re going to feel in control and have a tiny moment to yourself to process thought before the little people arise. In this time you can make YOURSELF a super quick, nutritious breakfast (suggestions below).
When I’m rushed and HANGRY it affects my ability to concentrate and deal with the smallest challenges – a seat belt that won’t fasten, finding a tiny playmobil man who HAS to come in the car etc. This is when I may just loose my S***T if I haven’t eaten.
I initially started getting up ten minutes before my son to make breakfast and I’ve extended this to an hour, so I can have quiet time, read a few pages of a positive book, listen to an audio and think about my day.
Don’t panic if your kids are too young to predict their wake up, stick with ten minutes or simply ensure you EAT breakfast. This small choice is going to make you feel much better.
This is my go-to breakfast and I love to pack it full of nutritious fresh fruit and vegetables. My favourite is a spinach and berries protein shake, which takes about 3 minutes to prepare using a Nutri-Bullet or other blender.
Two handfuls of pre-washed spinach
1 scoop of vanilla pea protein (optional)
2 handfuls of frozen blueberries
2 teaspoons of almond butter
Half fill with almond milk (or milk of choice)
Top up with water
2 teaspoons of chai seeds
Handful of ice
CINNAMON AND APPLE OVERNIGHT OATS
This is a simple and filling breakfast, which you can prepare the night before.
1 mug of oats
1 scoop of flavourless pea protein (optional)
1 small apple grated
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of maple syrup or date syrup
1 mug of almond milk (or milk of choice)
Place all dry ingredients in a bowl, add grated apple, maple syrup and milk and mix with a spoon. Place in an airtight container or cover bowl with cling film and place in the fridge. Add anything you like. Ingredients I like to add are sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, gojji berries or coconut shavings.