Baby-Led Weaning Recipes for Pancake Dayby Kirsty Taylor-Moran
Pancake day has always been a firm favourite of mine since childhood because it was the only day of the year that we could legitimately eat dessert food for dinner. I know that savoury pancakes are a thing but as a little girl, I was not remotely interested in any pancake unless it was smothered in Nutella, Syrup or Lemon & sugar.
We are currently a couple of months into weaning onto solids and Cassius has really enjoyed trying lots of different flavours and textures so far. Aside from the epic amounts of mess, it's a process we are generally really enjoying too. We decided that the baby-led weaning approach was the route we wanted to follow and for most meals, Cassius eats the same as us, but this can get a little tricky when it comes to dishes with too much salt or sugar. My favourite pancake topping for crepe-style pancakes is sugar and freshly squeezed lemon and I'm not ready to introduce my baby to my insane sweet tooth so I started researching and brainstorming some more baby-led weaning friendly pancake toppings.
Before you can really get cracking with the toppings, the most important decision is whether you are going with crepes or American style pancakes. My personal preference is for the thin and crispy crepe, but I think the crepe's fluffier cousin is perfect for tiny fingers and mouths that are just learning how to chew.
I do try and have a fair bit of variety on the plate for the baby, even for meals where I wouldn't usually bother for myself. He is still dropping lots of food on the floor deliberately and loses interest if there isn't much going on visually or in terms of flavour options on the plate. Most of the time this means adding a few different coloured fruits or veg but for Pancake Day I will be offering a selection of different pancake toppings for him to choose himself and hope to have the pancakes as visually appealing as possible.
I vaguely recall reading an article some years ago where it was recommended to leave the pancake mix for a little while before making the pancakes, it does something to the gluten in the flour and this is now part of my pancake cooking routine. I am currently working my way through an enormous sack of pancake pre-mix which luckily doesn't contain any nasties I'd be hesitant to let a baby eat.
Cassius is still too little to appreciate my artistic flair with the shapes of the pancakes, so I will make normal pancake shapes and cut them into finger shapes to make them easy for little hands to grip. The toppings will likely just be something for him to dip the pancake sticks into, and my foolproof combo of wet and dry (-ish) topping makes it easy for him to combine the components on his plate and get them into his mouth.
For a more flavourful pancake, and to introduce a bit more colour and texture into an otherwise beige meal, I incorporate some extra ingredients into the pancake mix. For different additions I would recommend different accompanying toppings but the key thing is having lots of interesting flavours for a baby that is still happy to try so many new things.
Beetroot- If you are buying this from the salad section of a supermarket be careful to choose one that isn't pickled as this will make the pancake mix curdle.
Sweet potato- I puree this, or pumpkin/squash and add it to pancakes. The result is more of a fritter but it is a good way to use up some frozen purees if you are transitioning from more traditional weaning.
Spinach- I buy this frozen and throw a handful of lumps into most dishes. Defrost in advance and squeeze to drain well before adding to pancakes.
Toppings: smashed avocado, crème fraiche, sweetcorn, pumpkin seeds, grated cheese
Blueberries- these can be added whole to the pancake mix, as they cook the berries will mush down enough that they will not pose a choking risk.
Peach slices- I use tinned to save the hassle.
Spirulina- I would only use a fraction of a teaspoon, just enough to add vibrant colour to the pancake mix.
Raisins- other dried fruit would work well if chopped, but this definitely ramps up the sugar content.
Toppings: cacao nibs, dried coconut flakes, chia seeds, natural yoghurt (with added lemon juice), banana slices, apple puree, chopped strawberries, baby's usual fromage frais,