I can recall the scene in slow-mo: my ten-month-old sitting in her high chair, gleefully digging her fingers into a bowl of fresh-made banana porridge before dumping a handful on the floor, splattering a glob on the curtains behind her, smearing a chunk into her eyebrows, and finally smooshing the teensiest speck into her mouth.
It’s a common scenario in households going through the milk-to-solids transition. And while pureed recipes are great for getting essential vitamins and minerals into young bodies at home, making such a spectacular mess in a public space like a food court or library courtyard isn’t really an option. On top of that, the “accepting a spoon” stage lasted for about twenty minutes at my place before Miss V reckoned she could manage this whole feeding thing herself, thank you very much.
Instead, what I love right now are easy-to-hold snacks for babies that are a) healthy (no packets), b) mess free (minimal clean-up), c) quick to make (no recipes required), and d) affordable. Here’s what I came up with.
Boiled Corn Cobs (with the kernels cut in half)
A good source of B complex vitamins, corn is also known for thiamin, which is used for maintaining nerves and brain development in babies. Curious fact: the yellow comes from a biochemical known as zeaxanthin, which has been known to improve eyesight, not only for aging people, but also for children. Corn is readily available at grocery stores year ’round and is super affordable. Note: The full-sized kernels can be a choking hazard for small mouths, so after I boil a few cobs for around ten to fifteen minutes to make sure they’re super soft, I then trim them back on all sides to make the juicy insides easily accessible. I keep a small container of trimmed cobs in the fridge, and the gnawable chunks make a delicious and cooling teething toy too.
Steamed Carrot Fingers
Carrots provide dietary fibre, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. They are extremely high in vitamin A, which promotes healthy eyesight as well as healthy skin, growth, and resistance to infection. Because carrots are also a good source of the antioxidant beta carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A, these benefits are further amplified. With three grams of sugars in every half-cup of carrots, they are one of the sweetest of all vegetables—which makes them extra appetising to young taste buds. I’ll cut a carrot into eight-centimeter fingers and steam them up till they’re super soft. This means they’re easy to grab a hold of, but also dissolve softly in the mouth.
Steamed Broccoli Florets
Getting Bub keen on greens is a top priority for me—but many leafy kinds aren’t appropriate at this stage. Instead, I’m keen on broccoli, which is well known as a super food for adults—and is also a good source of vitamin C, which plays a vital role in improving the immune system and keeping your baby healthy and resistant to various diseases. I’ll steam a few florets at once, and unlike carrots or corn, I try to keep an eye on broccoli as there’s a tight window between it becoming perfectly soft and becoming overcooked to the point the nutrients are lost. Bub loves to help herself and contentedly chews away on the stalk and greens.
Cold Skinless Sausages Cut in Half
If you know a kid who doesn’t like sausages, I’d like to meet them! There’s something about the salty taste and handy shape of the meaty little bangers that little ones love. Again, as with all foods for new eaters, you need to be aware of choking hazards, so go for skinless types (or remove the skin from normal types) with a reduced salt content—extra points for organic, GM-free, butcher-bought types as they’re likely to be fresher and contain fewer preservatives. I grill mine, then cut in half and store in the fridge, ready for the next outing. While easy to hold, the meat leaves a sausage-y smell on fingers, so I always keep the wipes handy.
Primary image: Tetra Images/Getty, all other images courtesy of Jade Warne
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