6-8 month +, Toddlers and Young Children, Finger Foods, Grown Ups too!
Dips are a great way to encourage babies and toddlers to feed themselves and are a fab early ‘finger food’. Even from a very young age babies can co-ordinate themselves to do a dip, even if it’s just dipping their fingers in. And they nearly all love the intensely satisfying experience, albeit a sometimes very messy one for mums and dads!
Dips also encourage wee ones to eat a greater variety of veggies. My kids will rarely eat a stick of raw carrot or pepper on it’s own but will gladly gnaw away if it’s got something yummy on the end. Try offering dips with a selection of finely sliced sticks of raw carrots, cucumbers, peppers, firm avocados or celery as well as breadsticks and slices of wholemeal pitta bread. For babies and littlies offer sticks or pieces of cooked veggies like carrots, courgettes, broccoli florets or even chunks of roasted squash or sweet potato. You might be surprised how much of the good stuff they consume when left to their own devices!
Don’t be daunted by making your own hummus, it’s remarkably easy and quick and so much better than anything shop bought. From my experience most babies and small children love it, and obviously big children and grown ups too! Rarely a week goes by without me making a batch of hummus. As well as being a great dip it can be tasty snack spread on wholemeal toast or pitta bread, or combined with a little grated carrot or cheese (or both) in a sandwich.
This makes enough for several children but stores well in the fridge for 5 days. I normally make at least double quantity and use exactly the same recipe for the whole family to enjoy.
½ a 400g/14oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
½ a clove of garlic, finely chopped
juice of ½ a lemon
a desertspoon of Tahini
1.5 tbsps of olive oil
a tiny pinch of salt (no salt if you’re making for babies)
a pinch of black pepper
Throw all the ingredients in a food processor and blend for a few moments, or place in a high sided bowl and whiz with a stick blender. The latter being my preference as it’s less washing up!. Once whizzed check the flavour and add more lemon juice, pepper or salt to taste.
My kids also go crazy for homemade guacamole which again is ridiculously quick and easy to make and beats anything shop bought hands down. I use a little fresh coriander in my guacamole as I believe it’s important to get kids into eating strong and interesting flavours from a young age. I also sometimes add a touch of chilli, particularly if I’m making for grown ups too, and the kids like it equally. In fact the first time Francesca ever ate guacamole it was some I’d made for friends that had quite a substantial chilli kick and she loved it! And she was only about 8 months old.
a very ripe avocado
2 teaspoons of fresh lime juice
½ a tomato
a dessertspoon of chopped fresh coriander (optional)
the merest pinch of crushed dried chilli flakes or very finely chopped fresh chilli (optional)
tiny pinches of salt & pepper (no salt if you’re making for babies)
Remove the stone and skin from the avocado, roughly chop and place in a bowl. Mash finely with the back of the fork.
Very finely chop the tomato and stir into the avocado along with the lime juice, coriander (if using), chilli (if using) and a little salt & pepper.
Tuna & Cream Cheese
The last of my trio happens to be yet another of my kids favourites and is even easier to make than the others. It’s simply tuna mashed up with a little cream cheese. As well as a dip this makes a fab mayo-free sandwich or jacket potato filling. For a very tasty ‘grown up’ version, that kids will also equally enjoy, simply add a little lemon zest, a few finely chopped capers and a grinding of black pepper.
a heaped tablespoon of drained tinned tuna (preferably tuna tinned in spring water)
a heaped tablespoon of full fat cream cheese
Simply mash the two together. Done!.
Here’s Francesca & Jacques enjoying their favourite dippy trio outside in the sunshine: