A guest blog from Beth Bentley – click on the pictures to view the recipes.
I’ve always been into wellness and nutrition, and live in an area of London with a really vibrant food and drink scene (London Fields, Hackney). When it came time for my baby to start eating, a weeks ago, I was keen to establish a diet of simple, clean, colourful, whole and crucially, interesting foods for her. Her Dad and I scratch-cook and eat pretty consciously and we want nothing less for our baby.
But weaning a baby these days is bloody hard- there’s so much conflicting advice coming at new mothers about what to offer, when, how often and in what quantity. The first time I walked down the baby food aisle in a big supermarket, I was so shocked I left without buying anything. I was surprised – and sad – about how low the nutritional standards seem to be in a lot of popular commercial baby foods in this country. I found highly processed, artificial-feeling foods presented as healthy choices with opaque language like ‘no nasties’ and ‘pure’ on the packaging. It feels like the food industry is making it harder, not easier for parents to make good choices for our babies.
Mums want feeding their babies to be FUN, not stressful. There’s enough to worry about as a new mum. I really didn’t want my feeding choices to become a source of anxiety or mum guilt so I went looking for inspiration on healthy (genuinely, actually,nutritionally healthy), interesting, easy, quick baby meal ideas. I was looking for a writer or blogger to follow who I felt was well-informed, had high standards, and just sort-of ‘gets’ me and understands the kind of things I’d like to make for my baby. I couldn’t find what I was looking for, so I did it myself.
My Instagram blog is based on my opinion that feeding a baby mindfully is way harder than it should be. I suggest baby-safe versions of interesting dishes that are trending right now, and I put my ‘clean, green, weaning’ lens on classic family dishes that parents are familiar with. All my recipes avoid sugar, processed grains, salt, and excessive dairy, but go big on flavour and colour. I try to think of creative ways to use basic, plain ingredients (with the odd superfood thrown in…chia seeds, nut butters, coconut) to build meals that are good value and not a faff to make….recipes that mamas enjoy making as much as their babies enjoy eating. I use a distinctive visual look and I have a laugh with my mama followers – just because we’re mamas doesn’t mean we left our design eye, or our sense of humour, at the maternity-wing door.
Often my recipes are a lot bolder than what’s typically fed to babies, but everything is absolutely safe from six months – I wouldn’t give my own baby something that wasn’t suitable. Young Gums is a mix of baby-led-weaning and purees, and I verify my nutritional advice with a local NHS infant dietician. I never list ingredient quantities by gram/millilitre…no mama has time for weighing scales and measuring jugs. I use teaspoons and tablespoons as my measuring devices. It’s all part of trying to make every recipe so simple that you can cook it with one hand. Which is needs-must in my house…I often have a hungry baby in the other hand.
Beth Bentley posts her recipes on Instagram via her account @young_gums she is a first time Mum to a 7 month old baby girl.
Young Gums has been live less than six weeks and already nearly 1000 mamas are following daily, commenting, tagging friends and even sending Beth pics of their beautiful babes in their highchairs enjoying her dishes. The idea seemed to take off almost immediately…within the first 24 hours of going live with her first few recipes Beth was astonished to receive messages of support from well-known nutritionists in Australia and L.A., as well as from some brilliant British mum bloggers. Since then famous food writers, parenting experts, big international mum bloggers, and even the legendary Annabel Karmel, are liking, commenting, and connecting with Beth. Beth is proud that Mums are joining in little Insta chats within her feed to discuss the recipes. All helping each other.