Tickle Buds co-founder Emma embarks on the weaning journey for a second time

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.

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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!!

 

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Batch cooking for baby- tips and tricks

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.

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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).

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  • 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.

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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.

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Homemade Toddler Snacks – Switching processed for unprocessed

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.

chopped banana and almond butter snack

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!

Chocolate “Hazelnutella”

Ingredients

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

ingredients for homemade chocolate spread

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**

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Tickle Buds at Eat Chiswick Market Sun 2nd/ 9th April – with free foodie goody bags to give away!

Are you confused about weaning advice for your baby, or looking for some fresh inspiration for healthy food to feed your toddler?
Come along to the Eat Chiswick market on Sunday April 2nd and Sunday April 9th and have a chat! Plus we will have free foodie giveaways and you will have a chance to win a free recipe box for your little ones. We would love to say hello! We’ll be at the end of Chiswick High Rd, opposite Outsider Tart from 10am -4pm.
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Emma and Helen

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.

At Eat Chiswick Sunday market, we will be giving away free food goodie bags and you will also have the chance to win a completely free recipe box for you and your little one to try.


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.

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Beginning the weaning adventure and the birth of Tickle Buds weaning recipe boxes!

Setting off on our weaning journey with my twins felt like an adventure in lots of ways. As it became more and more obvious the time had come to start introducing them to real food, I began to make grand plans about what I would cook and started writing lists and more lists of lovely tastes and new things for them to try. I was ambitious and excited and I wanted to help them develop healthy eating habits from the start. So my cooking endeavours began….

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But the reality was very different from how I had envisaged this weaning adventure in my head. My meals didn’t look like the lovely, tempting recipes in the books and my children certainly didn’t resemble the smiley babies in the photos, happy to try any of mummy’s concoctions. I was instead surrounded by mess, rejected food and cooking fails.

This is when I got talking with Emma, fellow co-founder of Tickle Buds, new mummy and epic home cook. By sharing our experiences we got through the days when we or our little ones were struggling with the adventure. We shared recipes, ideas and unloaded our woes to each other. Knowing you are not alone on the journey is really important. I really wanted to keep my enthusiasm for home cooking for weaning my two, and with a bit of support this became a whole lot easier.

That’s why we have created the Tickle Buds First Foods community. Our weaning boxes take the stress out of home cooking, but our community is there to support you. Come join us on facebook, twitter or instagram! Tell us what works for you, share tips and advice and ask questions.

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And if you would like to get involved in our “Weaning Diaries” series on the blog just drop me  a line on helen.quinn@ticklebuds.co.uk -we would really love to share your stories!

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Weaning Diaries from Mum and owner of Jo’s Healthy Cupboard

This week our “Weaning Diaries” series is from Jo Rae in Scotland who runs Jo’s Healthy Cupboard. Jo makes gorgeous healthy and raw versions of our favourite sweet treats- but Jo’s versions use all natural ingredients, contain no refined sugar and most importantly are good for you!

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We are very excited that Jo will be returning to our First Foods Blog with a monthly post about small healthy changes you can make in your life. We know how hard it is to make time for you, we spend so long worrying about our little ones that there is often no time for anything else.  But looking after you is also super important. Jo’s ideas are all brilliant small changes that are really easy to implement especially on busy days or when you’ve had no sleep and aren’t quite firing on all cylinders! And after trying a few myself they have definitely given me the boost of energy I have needed!

Anyway over to Jo and her Weaning Diaries….

About Mum:  image4

I’m Jo and I’m a mummy, wife, runner, Research Manager and owner of Jo’s Healthy Cupboard, which combines my various interests in health and wellness. I live in the North East of Scotland in a little town called Aberdeen. I’m passionate about inspiring and helping other mums to feel confident and healthy. I started creating healthier versions of classic meals and desserts when I was weaning my son, who is now nearly 5!!! I loved the creative process of thinking about ways to make food healthier for the whole family. My interest in health and wellness expanded from there.

 About Little One:

I have a little boy who is nearly five years old and he is starting school this August. I currently spend most of my time in between nursery and work answering tricky questions like who looked after the dinosaurs and where did human beings come from? When I’m not doing that you’ll find me hunting for tiny playmobil swords!

What is the one piece of knowledge you wish you’d known before you started weaning your baby?

 Keep it simple and don’t worry so much. You’re on a learning journey as much as your baby is.

image2What helped you the most during your weaning journey?

 My friends who were experienced in the weaning process and my NCT chums who were going through it at the same time. Plus, lets not forget Annabel Karmel’s recipe books.

What did you find hardest during weaning?

 It was quite a while ago now but I think it was the freezing and defrosting part.  I like to make things fresh and not plan food too much in advance, so it was something new to me. I learned to embrace cooking in batches and planning meals in advance so that I wouldn’t end up using quick fixes.

 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?

I had a little thermal flask, which I bought from Boots that I’d use to store homemade soup or porridge if we were going out. This meant that I could always feed the baby without having to wait for someone else to heat up his food.

Can you recommend or share a favourite recipe?

Everything with sweet potato! They are so nutritious and quick to boil or bake. They have a subtle sweet taste and mix well with lots of other things. I used to make a really simple sweet potato and lentil soup for my son when he was around 6-7 months old. It consisted of onion, red lentils, sweet potato and an organic vegetable stock cube suitable for babies. The great thing about this recipe was that everyone could eat it. I would process some of the soup for my son and leave the rest for us.

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If you want to see more of Jo’s healthy recipes see her Instagram and Facebook pages.

WEANING DIARIES: Weaning tips from first time mum and Tickle Buds co-founder Emma Conder

emma-first-time-mumEmma, our co-founder, kicks off our new “Weaning Diaries” and shares her experiences of weaning as a first time mum. We hope this mini-blog will be a place where everyone who is or has been on the weaning journey can help each other with top tips and funny experiences but also share the hard times and help each other with things they learnt. This is the first of many “we’ve been there” weaning experiences so sit back and enjoy the ride!

Please feel free to comment or ask any questions, we want this to be a place where we all swap ideas and support each other!

About Mum:

I’m Emma and I’m a co-founder of Tickle Buds- trying to make the weaning journey easier! I have always really enjoyed cooking healthy food, I love trying new tastes and experimenting with new dishes. In the whirl wind of the first two years, it was really important for me to remember my passion and for it not to get lost in the business of being a first time mum. I wanted my passion for food to be something I could share with my little boy.

About baby:ralph-weaning-first-time-mum

Ralph is now just over 2 years old and currently preparing to become a big brother in January. Eeeekkk!!

What is the one piece of knowledge you wish you’d known before you started weaning your baby?

Don’t stress over the individual meals – the bigger picture is more important.  Just because one meal doesn’t go well it doesn’t mean he’s a bad eater.

What helped you the most during your weaning journey?

Talking to everyone and anyone! Hearing that other parents felt exactly the same way and finding out that all little ones go through fussy phases, definitely reassured me through the tougher days.

What did you find hardest during weaning?

Ideas!!!  I’d definitely have ‘blank’ days where I’d have no idea what to feed Ralph or what to make.  I’d stare into the fridge hoping an amazing meal idea would jump out at me.

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?

My microwave steamer was my weaning life saver.  I’d never used one before, but now I wouldn’t be without it.  Being able to cook fresh veggies really quickly definitely saved me a lot of stress.

Can you recommend or share a favourite recipe?

 Overnight oats are amazing!! Place equal measures of yoghurt, milk and porridge oats in a bowl and add whatever fruit you have (frozen berries are ideal). Cover and leave in the fridge overnight.  By morning you’ll have a healthy, super-quick and delicious breakfast.

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The Great Weaning Journey

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Welcome to The Great Weaning Journey. This is the start of your baby’s big eating adventure and it’s a hugely exciting time. This is the first time your baby will have tasted anything other than milk as a food. Your baby is dipping their toes in the big new world of tastes and flavours and you will be there every step of the way.

But a lot of parents, myself included, approach the transition from milk to solids with trepidation, I was definitely a worrier. It’s so easy to do and after all you have probably finally got your head around the latest ever-changing milk schedule for it to be suddenly whipped from under your feet and you are starting all over again in unknown territories.

This is a huge journey you take with your baby, you will experience the highs and the lows as your little ones finds the good tastes, and the ones they are not so keen on. And yes it’s hard and frustrating and messy, and sometimes you will feel like giving up, but it’s a once in a lifetime event, the only time they will discover such variety of new tastes, flavours and textures in such a short time period. It’s an intense bombardment of the senses for your baby.

But you will be there with your little one as they take their first ever taste. You will be there as they discover what they like, as their tiny but super sensitive taste buds begin to discover there are things in the world that taste of something other than milk. You will be there as they take their first spoonful themselves, as they manage to figure out how to use their forks and spoons and you’ll be there when they reject food, when the times are hard, when you both seem to be in a battle. But the most important thing is that you will be travelling this journey together.

It’s one of our greatest journeys in life, but one that’s often taken for granted. What you share with your little one now, will stay with them forever.