Wondering how and when to introduce pancakes to your baby? Here is everything you need to know about baby-led weaning with pancakes.
To this day, pancakes are one of my kids’ favorite foods. I think it’s because they are so fun to make, and easy to change up with what you decide to add into the batter or on top of the pancake after its cooked! The versatility of pancakes makes them not only exciting for kids (and babies) but also allows for a range of nutrition (and flavor!) that can be delivered in one simple flapjack (the dietitian in me loves this part).
In this blog you will learn that pancakes can be prepared in a variety of ways, ranging from 3-ingredient blender pancakes to more complex recipes! We’re going to dive into:
Why are pancakes a great BLW food?
Pancakes are a wonderful baby-led weaning food because they are soft, moist and easy for young baby gums to breakdown and swallow. You can also customize your pancake recipe based on the types of ingredients you want to introduce to your baby! If your baby is very new to the eating game, opting for a few simple ingredients might be the best approach to start with (try these delicious super easy 3-Ingredient Flourless Banana Pancakes ).
If you find your baby is experiencing hard stools with food introduction, add ins like chia seeds, flax seeds, or even pureed prunes can help smooth out their bowel movements (make sure they are drinking enough liquid as well!). If you are wanting to introduce a common food allergen like peanut butter or almond butter, simply add some into the pancake batter or spread some ON TOP of the pancake! Pancakes are an easy way to continue to expose your baby to food allergens in small amounts any time after 6 months of age (which is around the time where you’ll introduce solids foods).
But first… what is baby led weaning?
There is no one “right way” to introduce solids. Whether you introduce solids through baby-led weaning or traditional spoon feeding (or a combo!) the most important thing is that all feeding is responsive. Baby-led weaning is a feeding approach that involves preparing soft finger foods for baby to self-feed, instead of the care-giver spoon-feeding purees. A benefit to baby-led weaning is that baby is 100% in control of how much and how fast they eat.
However, feeding baby whole pieces of food can cause anxiety for new parents, particularly around choking risk. Interestingly enough, if foods are prepared a safe soft texture and shape, choking risk is no higher than traditional spoon-feeding. Baby will inevitably gag with new foods and textures as a part of learning how to manipulate food in their tiny mouths. Gagging is not the same as choking—it is an innate reflex that actually helps prevent choking! Other potential benefits of baby-led weaning include improved dexterity, early oral-motor skill development, better self-regulation, and saving money on store bought baby food! Introducing a wide variety of foods, tastes and textures may also help to reduce picky eating later on.
When and how do I serve pancakes to my baby?
You can serve pancakes to your baby as soon are they are showing the signs of readiness to eat solids, which for most babies, is around 6 months of age (this is right around the time that I recommend introducing solid foods). Check out this guide for important information on your baby’s readiness cues for baby-led weaning.
Serve pancakes by cutting them into finger-like strips that are easy for a baby hand to grasp. At this age your baby will have developed “palmer grasp”. This is when your little one is able to use their fingers and palm in a raking motion to grab larger items and bring them to their mouth.
At around 9 months your little one will be developing better finger dexterity and may be ready to pick up smaller pieces of food. Start chopping your babies pancakes into smaller pieces by 10 months (or earlier if they seem ready!) so that they can start practicing their “pincer grasp”! You can also help to teach your baby to use a baby fork to pick up little pieces of pancake at this point too! Show them how to do it, and help them to guide it into their mouth (being very careful to let them lead), until the get it on their own.
How do I prepare pancakes for my baby?
This is by far the quickest way to combine all pancake ingredients with the least number of dishes. You simply dump all pancake ingredients into the blender, then blend until well combined. Pour the mixture right from the blender onto a greased, non-stick pan on medium heat. Cook pancakes until light golden brown on both sides! These are delicate, so make sure that your pan is well-greased and that you’re careful when flipping. I really love this method (for babies, but also for all ages) since it is so fast and simple. If you have add-ins you don’t want blended like berries or slivered nuts, make sure to mix them in after the rest of the ingredients are blended. Blender pancakes are usually gluten free (if you use gluten-free oats) and use eggs to help bind ingredients together when cooked (eggs also add protein!). See the table below for some fun blender pancake recipes!
Mixing Bowl Method:
This is the traditional method of making pancakes from scratch. Combine dry ingredients (typically flour, baking powder, spices, and mix ins like chia seeds/flaxseed, and/or seeds) in one bowl, and whisk together wet ingredients in another bowl (typically milk, oil or butter, eggs, and other wet mix ins like pureed fruit, peanut butter, yogurt etc.). Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and fold in until combined. Ladle about ¼ cup of pancake batter (or whatever size of batter you want) onto a greased, non-stick pan on medium heat. Cook on both sides until golden brown!
Muffin Pan Method:
This method is a great idea if you are wanting to spend less time at the stove flipping pancakes. It also is perfect for making pancakes that are all the same size! Preheat oven to 350 °F. Combine dry ingredients in bowl. Combine wet ingredients in a large bowl. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix till all ingredients are combined (try not to overmix). Grease muffin tins with butter or oil spray. Pour batter into muffin tins about 2/3 of the way full. Sprinkle on toppings like fresh or frozen berries, shredded apple, hemp hearts etc. Bake in oven for about 15 minutes for regular sized muffins or 7-10 mins for mini muffins until lightly golden brown and cooked through.
Quick and Easy BLW Pancake Ideas
Blueberry Oatmeal Blender Pancakes (gluten free, dairy free)
- 1 cup of blueberries
- ¾ cup of gluten free oats
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 large banana
- 2 eggs
*Refer to the blender method above on how to prepare
Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Blender Pancakes (gluten free, dairy free)
- 2 large ripe bananas
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp. of cocoa powder
- 2 tbsp. of peanut butter
*Refer to the blender method above on how to prepare
Chia Almond Pancakes (Vegan)
- 1 cup of almond flour
- ½ cup of all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 large banana, mashed
- ¾ cup of soy or almond milk
- 1 tbsp. chia seeds + 3 tbsp. warm water (chia egg)
*Refer to Mixing bowl method on how to prepare
Mini Muffin Tin Pancake Poppers *adjusted from the The Best Pancake Muffins (super easy) | Baby Foode
- ½ cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- 1 cup milk
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp. oil or butter
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 tbsp. maple syrup (optional)
- Add ins: blueberries, shredded apple, diced strawberries
* Refer to the muffin pan method above on how to prepare
Add-ins and/or toppings are great for adding more flavor, nutrients, protein and fibre to your little one’s pancakes! It’s an easy way to create variety and widen your baby’s exposure to new foods and textures!
Balanced meal and snack ideas with pancakes:
Making pancakes at home presents a great opportunity to add a variety of ingredients that pack your little one’s meal with flavor, texture and nutrients! The easiest way to balance out a pancake meal or snack is to make sure there is a source of protein, vegetable or fruit, and healthy fat!
This could mean adding veggies or fruit, protein (like yogurt or peanut butter) and healthy fats (seeds and nut butter) into the batter OR on the side. See below for some ideas on how to balance meals and snacks using pancakes:
|Blueberry mini muffin tin pancake poppers
Whole-fat plain yogurt
Sprinkle hemp hearts on pancakes or yogurt
|Oatmeal blender pancakes
Peanut butter on top
Sliced banana on top
|Savory Pancakes (try the savory veggie pancake recipe listed below)
Serve with shredded cheese and shredded apple on the side
|Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Blender Pancakes (see above)
Option to serve with extra peanut butter or a bit of whole fat yogurt on top for more protein
|Carrot cake pancakes (try the recipe listed below)
Shredded chicken thighs
Steamed broccoli on the side
Yes, pancakes can be a great option for your baby—they add a wide range of nutrition and flavor to your little one’s plate! Make sure not to include added sugar (babies don’t need sugar, syrup or honey yet).
Let’s look at a few of the main ingredients in pancakes and what they provide your baby:
– Milk- provides protein, vitamin D, calcium and vitamin B12
– Eggs- Provides protein, iron, B vitamins, selenium and vitamin A
– Whole grain flour Or Oats- Provides fibre, B vitamins, iron and zinc
– Peanut butter- Provides protein, healthy fats, and iron
– Bananas- Provides antioxidants, fibre, potassium and vitamin B6
– Berries- Provides antioxidants, polyphenols, fibre, vitamin C and manganese
– Nuts/seeds- provides fibre, healthy fats, and many micronutrients like vitamin E, selenium, zinc, magnesium and much more!
If your baby has a food allergy or is at high risk for a food allergy, it is possible for that they may experience an allergic reaction to pancakes. This of course depends on whether or not the ingredients added into the pancakes contain the particular food that they are allergic to.
Pancakes often contain common food allergens like eggs, milk, wheat, and peanut butter. I recommend introducing all food allergens individually to your baby, before they are combined with other food allergens (like they often are in pancake recipes). This way if your baby does react to the food item you will know not to put it in the pancake recipe. For example, if your baby is allergic to dairy, you can try dairy free pancake recipes that contain a milk alternative or no milk at all. However, if you know your baby is NOT allergic to milk or eggs, but you are not sure about peanut butter, you could try adding peanut butter on top of some pancakes as a way of introducing peanuts. This way if your baby were to have a reaction after eating the pancakes, you would know it is not the pancakes themselves but the peanut butter added on top.
No. Pancakes are not typically a choking hazard for your baby as they are moist, soft and easy to chew. However, it is important to observe your baby while they gum at the pancakes to see if pieces easily break off and breakdown in their mouth. It is possible for thick or dry pancakes to become too “gummy” or sticky in the mouth making it difficult to swallow.
Hard pieces of nuts or seeds added into pancake batter can, however, present a choking hazard. Make sure that nuts and seeds are in “butter” form or small enough that they wouldn’t be thicker than a pinky nail. Chia seeds and hemp hearts are a safe size. This will help prevent the risk of any choking hazards getting mixed into pancakes. Fresh or frozen berries added into the pancake batter do not pose a high choking risk. However, make sure that the berries are no longer firm, and easily squish in the cooked pancake before serving to your baby.