A Coffee Break with…. Kayley from Friendly First Foods

This week I chatted to Kayley who writes a popular blog called Friendly First Foods. This is a blog about weaning babies and making easy family friendly foods for them to grow and develop. I like this blog because it is all about feeding youngsters a varied diet as soon as you start weaning. Giving babies a healthy start is so important and Kayley has done so well at sharing her experiences with her son so that other parents and carers have ideas to help the next generation.

Here I chat to Kayley about her blog and share this with you, if you want to find out a bit more about Kayley or Friendly First Foods her social media links are at the end of this post, but for now lets have a cuppa and see what this blog is all about!

Kayley and her son Harry

Important things first! Tea or coffee? How do you have it and do you like biscuits?
Tea every time!  I like it milky with 1 sugar.  If I go out I like to have a cheeky latte but day to day I’m a tea drinker.  I rarely say no to a biscuit, there’s nothing better than a biscuit to dunk in your brew!

Your inspiring blog about feeding babies has become very popular. When did you start it and why?

Gosh, inspiring, I really don’t feel like it is inspiring .  I see it more as me sharing way too much on the internet, if it helps other parents along the way that makes me very happy!
I started Friendly First Foods less  than a year ago as a Facebook group after I was kicked off a baby led weaning group for using a spoon.  I wanted to create somewhere where people would feel safe to ask questions and share their thoughts without the fear of judgement. The group grew quickly and I was surprised how many like minded parents there were.  
I’d never really been much of a cook but Harry loved his food from the start and I loved preparing meals for him.  I’d often post my meals on the Facebook group and be asked for the recipes.  My husband made me the blog to make it easier to share my recipes and meal plans on the Facebook group.  I’ll be honest I was hesitant to have a ‘blog’ on there initially but my husband talked me into it and I’m so glad that he did as I love having my own little space to dump all my foodie thoughts now!
We’ve been live for just under 4 months now and it’s been overwheming how many people are using Friendly First Foods, I love watching it grow and develop as my son grows.

On of the meals on Friendly First Foods

The foods on your blog all seem to be healthy is this important to you?

Feeding my son a healthy diet is very important to me.  I’ll be honest, before I had Harry I wasn’t the healthiest eater.  It wasn’t until I started thinking about giving him a balanced diet that I began making healthier choices for myself.  I feel so much better for it and like to think I am setting a good example for him by us eating the same meals.  It’s so easy to create tasty, quick and healthy meals once you know how and I like the fact that I have a platform to share healthy ideas with lots of parents all over the world.  
People think I spend a long time cooking for Harry.  I don’t.  I plan ahead, batch cook and have a well stocked fruit bowl, salad bowl and freezer full of vegetables at all times!  It is faster to make a healthy tortilla pizza than it is to cook an unhealthy frozen one.  There are so many healthy swaps out there that you can make and they usually save you money too!

Do you think there is enough advice to parents on feeding their babies and children healthily?

There are some great resources out there to give parents ideas for healthy meals but I don’t think theses are accessible enough or easy enough to find.  It would be great if, as part of all the leaflets and advertising you are given after you have a baby, you were given a list of useful websites and books that can help you make healthy foods quickly and easily for babies.  Something that explains the different approaches to weaning and helps parents to make the best choice for them.  I think it’s sadly still a common misconception that eating healthily has to cost more and take longer but it really doesn’t, the more we share the “boring” quick healthy meals we prepare for our children the more people will see how easy it can be!

Harry enjoying the kinds of foods on Friendly First Foods

How old are your children now and do they still eat healthily? 

Harry is almost 19 months:  Well and truly weaned.  He is still a very good eater and will eat most things I offer him.  He is a a bit suspicious of raw peppers and tomatoes but enjoys these when cooked within a meal.  We follow the ‘everything in moderation’ approach.  He eats lots of fruits and vegetables, usually 5 varieties per meal never mind a day!  He is also allowed treats occasionally though.   Every few weeks we visit my grandparents and he has a funsize packet of chocolate buttons, sometimes he will have a packet of pom bears and a sandwich for lunch. By no means does he eat perfectly healthy 100% of the time but I like to think by allowing him occasional treats he is learning that some foods are ‘all the time foods’ and some foods are ‘sometimes foods’ so as he grows up he will be able to make those healthy, balanced choices for himself.

If you could give a new parent one piece of advice on babies first foods what would that be?

Relax!  It is so easy to worry about how much baby is eating and panicking that they haven’t had enough.  Whilst they are still having milk feeds they are still getting all the nutrients they need.  Relax, enjoy it and embrace the mess: There will be a lot of it!  I really believe that when I was stressed about food, Harry would be too and would eat less and be less likely to try new things.  When I was more relaxed so was he.  Even now if he refuses a certain food I just take it away and offer it again alongside food he enjoys next time.  Eventually he has come round and tried everything we have offered.

Another tasty meal suggestion on Friendly First Foods

Can you give us some examples of how babies can enjoy healthy foods that are still fun and easy for parents because jars are quick which I think is why a lot of people turn to them?

I’ll be honest and say that I don’t really know much about making purees as we have offered food as we would eat it from the start.  There are lots of recipes on our website recipe page that are healthy and easy to make.  I also wrote a post about ‘everyday meals’, the ones that don’t look pretty or impressive but are a true reflection of what normality looks like in our kitchen.  Our favourite ‘go to meals’ are things like:
Gnocci, pesto and mixed veg or pasta and veg with tomato sauce: These can be made in one pan.  Throw in the pasta/gnocci, toss in some mixed veg 5 mins before the pasta is cooked, drain and make a quick tomato sauce or add a dollop of pesto.
Tortilla pizza: Faster to make than a shop bought one! Put a tortilla under the grill, flip, add toppings, return to grill and voila! 5 minute meal!
I also love using my slow cooker so I can prepare meals during nap time and have them ready for dinner with little or no effort required whilst Harry is awake.

What do you enjoy about your blog? Where do you see it going from here?

I love the feeling I get when someone shares one of my recipes that they have made for their child and says that they really enjoyed it.  Nothing beats that!
I’d love to grow my blog and continue to share healthy, simple food ideas for babies and children.  As Harry grows up I like to think I will be able to involve him more, helping me to cook and sharing his own thoughts on his favourite healthy foods!  More than anything I just want to enjoy the ride.  This time last year I never would have imagined I’d have a blog and be sharing recipes that people would actually find useful but I’m so glad life has led me down this path.
Links to read about Friendly First Foods yourself:
The Blog can be found at www.friendlyfirstfoods.co.uk
Every week on Just Average Jen we will have a coffee with someone different so you can find more blogs to read, more inspiring people, or just have a few minutes to yourself reading something different. Remember to keep coming back to see who else we feature.

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