6 Baby-Led Weaning Meal Ideas for CAMPING! 

We went on our first camping trip with Avery. She turned 10 months old while we were there, and between her crawling everywhere, separation anxiety that has been making bedtime super challenging again, and her dietary needs now that she’s no longer exclusively breastfed, we had our work cut out for us. It was only a 2 night stay, which was ideal to get our feet wet. 

In this post I’m going to share what we brought for meals. Most of these are links to the original recipe that I snagged off of Pinterest. I also sucked at documenting our food in photos because I needed both hands and all of my attention to get through meal times in the great outdoors. 

We wanted to bring things that were tasty, easy to pack/transport, and easy to cook/re-heat, of course, but we also wanted at least MOST of our meals to be Avery-friendly so we didn’t have to come up with double the meal ideas. I love cooking, but I hate having to come up with what to cook. We planned ahead for this trip, and it made life easier while balancing cooking over the camp stove with watching an increasingly mobile baby. 

1. Friday dinner

Hobo burgers

Avery loves burgers. In fact, ground beef is probably her favourite food in the world. The only problem with grilling burgers like we traditionally would for ourselves is that they get a hard crust on them (a delicious, hard crust). We find that she struggles to chew the crusty deliciousness, and so we either give her the insides of a burger, or we steam them. The hobo burger is essentially steamed in its own juices, and it includes potatoes and whatever else you want to eat in the same steamy pocket of beef juicey goodness. I made the tinfoil packets in advance and threw them on the grill at the campsite. This was a perfect meal for baby-led weaners. The only issue with these is that they take at least half an hour to cook. 

2. Saturday breakfast 

Breakfast sandwiches and cheerios for the baby

For this meal we decided not to eat baby-friendly food, because we love a good breakfast sandwich on the weekends and didn’t see why camping should stop us from having that. I pre-cooked bacon, and we cooked eggs on our camp stove and stacked them on some bagels. 

The baby-led-weaning-friendly meal idea for this breakfast was cheerios (soaked for just a minute in almond milk). This meal was super easy to pack and super easy for Avery to eat. I remember one of my favourite meals when camping as a kid was mini boxes of cereal. You’d cut the box open, pour in your milk, and eat on the go. Ahh, nostalgia. 

3. Saturday lunch

Chicken quinoa burrito bowls

I pre-made this beauty of a hearty salad and it was delicious, filling, and baby-friendly. I made pulled chicken (instead of the chunks in the original picture here) and brought guacamole as a garnish to add at the time of eating. This was ideal for camping because it didn’t even require heating, but this also made it kind of lame for camping because it wasn’t a special camping meal. Either way, Avery loved it and we’ve been eating the leftovers all week for lunches. 

4. Saturday night dinner

Make-Ahead Lentil Chili and Campfire Skillet Cornbread 

I actually took a picture of this meal. The chili was warm and cozy on a chili evening and only required heating up on the camp stove, and the corn bread was the perfect side and actually enabled me to do a tiny bit of cooking, instead of just reheating. I packed the dry ingredients, mixed, in an oversized Tupperware, and the wet in a smaller container. I used the bigger Tupperware as a mixing bowl to blend the dry with the wet at the campsite, and just poured it into the skillet. 

5. Sunday breakfast 

Skillet Oatmeal with Fruit

You don’t really need a recipe for this, but here’s the pin that inspired me. We made quick oats in our cast iron skillet and added packaged fruit cocktail as a topper. And the adults got copious amounts of maple syrup. 

6. Snacks

Even at 10 months, Avery is already accustomed to two snacks a day in between her 3 square meals. For snacks, I brought a bunch of bananas, baby puffs, and a little resealable baggy of pre-diced fruit. We also relied heavily on her Klean Kanteen to keep her hydrated because she was often too distracted to nurse. 
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We ended up having an amazing time camping with our 10 month old. If you’re contemplating going camping with a baby but haven’t gotten up the nerve, JUST DO IT. It’s really not that hard (I was expecting much worse) and you make memories that last a lifetime (maybe not for the baby, yet, but for you!). I’ll probably write more about our experience, but if you want to know more, I’m happy to answer questions in the comments! 

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We Went to a Baby-Led Weaning Workshop

I’m trying not to do too much stuff with my baby. I have lots of non-parenting work to do and I like to just spend my quality time with Avery quietly, relaxing at home. But I had finished all my work for the week by Thursday, and when my naturopath (from hypnobirthing classes) invited me to a baby-led weaning workshop on Friday morning I decided it would be a good learning experience – and it couldn’t have been more appropriately timed in terms of Avery’s development. We’ve been dabbling in solids for a few weeks now and I had LOTS of questions.

The workshop was hosted at a local high-end grocery store (the kind I never shop at because I prefer to pay a reasonable amount of money for my food). It was led by a naturopath who specializes in prenatal care and children’s health. She has been offering this workshop for 15 years, and is an encyclopedia of all the new knowledge on weaning, allergies, nutrition, and even choking.

*cool fact #1: there is no increased risk of choking with baby-led weaning vs spoon-feeding purées. Babies will gag. This is OK and is not the same thing as choking (it’s important to know the difference). This reflex will go away, but yes, it is very unsettling while it lasts.

The first half of the 3 hour workshop was lecture style. I made sure to ask about allergies and food sensitivities since Avery has eczema. 

Allergies and Food Sensitivites

The instructor is a firm believer that baby eczema is almost always food related, even though many traditional MDs will say otherwise. She said that if your baby reacts to a certain food, you need to cut that food out (seems obvious). I asked if/when that baby would ever be able to try that food again, and here’s the tip I got:

*Fact #2: Wait 3 months before reintroducing a food that caused a reaction. Babies usually outgrow food sensitivities but the gut needs to heal from the first exposure, and it might need some time to mature a little more before being ready to handle that food iten again. 

She recommended bone broth for gut healing, BTW. I found a great post about bone broth here. Also important to note on this topic is that a serious allergy doesn’t show up on the first exposure. The first exposure may just look like a mild sensitivity. The real danger of an allergic reaction (like anaphylaxis) will happen on the 2nd or 3rd try. So be ever watchful when it comes to allergy-prone foods like nuts, eggs, soy, shellfish… But DO try them before 1 year old because the latest research shows that early exposure decreases risk of allergies. We actually got a prescription from our family doctor for a child epi pen and we have it on hand JUST IN CASE.

IRON REQUIREMENTS

The big concern in babies who are 6 months or older is iron deficiency. There are mutliple factors that lead to an iron deficiency in infants. One is that their ability to absorb iron from breastmilk changes as they start eating solids (maturing gut and all). Another factor is just not getting enough iron-rich foods. Babies need 11mg of iron a day, and even iron-rich foods like spinach provide surprisingly small percentages of the daily requirement (a 2 ice cube size serving of spinach, for example, provides less than 10% of the requirement). Our instructor recommended looking at the Dieticians of Canada Food Sources of Iron guide.

*fact #3: a good reason to hold off on introducing dairy until 9+ months is that dairy can inhibit absorption of iron.

*fact #4: Meat and legumes actually make a good first food (instead of fruits) because they are high in iron. Liver is the best meat for your baby in terms of mineral and vitamin content. 

Recommendations around baby cereal as a first food are changing – they might not be as healthy as once thought because babies <9 months don’t yet have all the digestive enzymes to digest refined carbohydrates. However, iron fortified baby cereals do have a place in your baby’s diet as an iron supplement if you can’t get enough iron into them through unrefined foods.

Making the Food

The second half of the workshop was hands on. We each got to choose a food from the counter to prepare for all the babies in the class, and then we were left to figure out how to make it in a way that would work well for baby led weaning. I chose liver because a) I love liver, and b) everyone scoffed at the liver and I always choose the underdog.

I made a liver and apple pâté  with just a little olive oil. Fry everything up in a pan, put in a blender and pulse until the biggest lumps are gone and everything is blended together, but keep it thick enough that a baby could use their hands to pick up bits to feed themselves. 

Other people made spiraled beets, steamed apple wedges, whole grain cereal, and  meatballs. Here’s  Avery’s plate before and after:

My favourite tips on preparing food for baby-led weaning:

  • Steam apple or pear wedges rather than puréeing or giving raw (skin on is fine) 
  • Buy a spiralizer to play with food textures. Fruits and veg are great spiralized and then baked. 
  • Make little meatballs, either a size the baby can bite into, or small enough to pop in their mouth whole without being a choking hazzard
  • Make liver into a pâté
  • Cook whole grain cereals like oats and barley that are thick enough for baby to grab handfuls

    I hope someone out there was able to get some useful info from this summary of what I learned today. We had a surprising amount of fun learning and cooking, and not so surprising, Avery LOVED trying all the food. We have a real food lover on our hands. I just hope this enthusiasm extends into the picky toddler years…

    (these pictures are crappy quality because I had to use the selfie lens on my phone and she was being a wiggle worm)