Gluten Free Dinners for 8 to 18 month olds

hungry baby

When you have children, your plans often have to change, and so it has with the planned topic for this blog. I’ve had a request via Twitter from @bedsbabies:

@FeedMe_GF We are based in uk & have a mummy member desperate for new ideas for dinner for her coeliac baby.

I’m currently writing a “how to” guide on feeding the gluten free under 5s, so here’s an excerpt for feeding the 8 to 18 month olds.  Hope it helps….

What are you eating?

And can it be adapted for your baby?

Safety first:  Can your baby choke on it?

Nuts, and sharp foods like corn chips and taco shells, are an obvious problem, but be aware of the slippery foods that can slip down “the wrong way”.

Secondly, is it suitable?

Ideally they will be eating the same food as you, though you may have to modify it a little. How much you have to cut it up and/or mash it will depend upon how many teeth your child has.

Casseroles are easy to eat for the 8 to 18 month old gang, though it can be messy! It’s a great way to get veggies into them, both the actual chunks and through the goodness of the gravy / sauce. Lamb, beef or chicken make tasty casseroles, but try some vegetarian ones as well for variety. You may need to puree the meat initially if it is too hard for them to chew.

If the meat is floured before browning, use GF flour or maize cornflour instead.  Be aware that some flavourings and seasonings unexpectedly contain gluten. You may need to find a different brand or a similar, but gluten free, product. Often the supermarket’s own brand contains fewer “extras” and is more likely to be GF.

Very spicy food may be a bit much for a little one, especially if they can’t tell you that their tongue’s on fire and they need water, milk or raita!   However they may tolerate mildly spicy dishes especially if you ate those foods whilst pregnant.  You’ll soon know if they don’t like it!

Quiches are soft enough (usually!) for your baby to eat, especially the self-crusting variety which GF ones often are.  If you’re serving salad with your main, you might need to cook a few vegetables for your little one.

Try fish pies, usually made with a white sauce, and fish cakes. Be very careful that there are no bones left in the fish if using fresh fish. Tinned salmon etc is ideal to use.

Thick soups and chowders are lovely and filling.  Make a decent quantity and freeze individual servings for a meal in a hurry. Add quinoa to the soup where you would normally use pearl barley, to make a thicker vegetable soup.

Pasta dishes can be adapted using GF pasta which is readily available, and in some areas can be purchased even cheaper on prescription.

Spaghetti (tinned or freshly made) is always popular. If you normally make meatballs to go with it, depending on the recipe, use GF breadcrumbs or replace rolled oats with quinoa or amaranth flakes. Or serve it with GF sausages.

I’ve served spaghetti in a bowl with toast “sails” – small triangles of toast sticking out the top of the spaghetti like little yachts. Make sure they have their largest bib on!  Another option is to grate cheese on top of the spaghetti and grill it.

Be adventurous with your vegetable combinations.  Mine loved carrot and swede mashed together with a knob of butter, and the adults do too!  Another favourite was kumara (sweet potato) mashed with stewed apple (yes, I know that’s not a veggie, but if they eat it…..).  Make extra and freeze some for when the rest of the family is having salad, or you need to feed them quickly.

Savoury mini-muffins served warm with mashed veggie are a good standby when you’re eating later than your child. And of course, muffins usually freeze well.

Look at the commercially produced dinners for your child’s age group for menu ideas, and create a similar home-cooked version.

For dessert there is a wide range of stewed fruit, yoghurt and custard combinations.  Sweet muffins, sponge puddings, pikelets, pancakes with custard and/or fruit are another option. If your child is also dairy free, soft tofu blended with berries, stewed fruit, or concentrated blackcurrant cordial makes a yummy dessert of mousse consistency.

If you don’t wish to train them to expect pudding every night, then starting now with fresh fruit after the main course is an excellent, and healthy, idea.

What do you feed your little ones?

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