When writing "Baby-Led Weaning for Busy Parents" I included lots of our personal family favourites that I cook on a regular basis. However, I did want to bring some excitement to the book so decided to experiment with some new recipes. This meant that not only could I explore different textures and cuisines, but also the world of snacks for babies and toddlers as well as ways to make them drink more too!
Baby and Toddler Drinking Habits
My daughter is such a milk lover, even now at the age of three. I do find that I need to remind her to drink as she doesn't tend to reach for water unless prompted. My son, on the other hand, is very good at making sure he is well hydrated and will always make it known when he needs some water or he reaches for his cup of his own accord.
However, fellow parents, we have now reached the stage where my son has decided he also likes to play with his drinking water! I'm not sure why, but even I recall that as a child it is fun to gurgle or slurp as you drink. Of course, I have told Little Master A to "mind his manners" each time he does it, but I also like to give him the space to have a bit of fun as long as he is in fact keeping hydrated. Nonetheless, I do draw the line when he gets bored and tips some of it onto his placemat and starts splashing it around with his hands! This usually signals the end of mealtime and we quickly clean him up and usher him towards his toys so that we can deal with the fallout :)
So, in general Little Master A does tend to drink well and I don't really worry about his hydration. But although she is his twin, Little Miss E is another matter entirely! She will have two sips at mealtimes or with a snack unless I urge her to drink more. However, if I offer her a small glass of milk she will happily accept and gulp it down keenly. I don't mind offering milk as an alternative at all because at least she is getting some sort of fluid into her!
Making Hydration Interesting the Baby-Led Way
I'm personally not keen on offering neat fruit juices and smoothies as although they contain lots of vitamins they are also high in natural sugars. If need be I dilute the juice in water so that the ratio is mostly water with a splash of the juice for colour. Alternatively, to create different flavours I often put crushed citrus fruits or berries into their water. These tend to go down well with Little Miss E as not only does the water have a more interesting flavour, but it looks pretty too!
The twins also show a keen interest when my husband and I are drinking tea of coffee, both of which are unsuitable for children due to the caffeine content! My husband has recently started frothing up milk (cow's milk or dairy-free alternatives such as almond milk) to make babyccinos which the twins seem very happy with as it makes them feel grown up and an equal member at snack/meal times. Alternatively, for a very special treat I sometimes make them "tea" which consists of 95% milk and 5% decaffeinated tea!
I had fun experimenting with making "baby cocktails", with my pride and joy being the "kiddie pina colada" recipe which I ended up including in the book. It might not taste as amazingly sweet and creamy (and of course not as boozy!) as the adult version, but it certainly went down well with the kids!