Sunday, 19 April 2015

Review: Babean - Baby Led Weaning Food

I was very generously sent a package of Babean food for my baby to sample and myself to review.

Babean is the creation of Claire and Dan, parents who decided that wholesome homemade food should be available to buy, to cater for the baby-led weaning market. We all know about the aisles full of jarred baby food, porridge and rusks and while most baby-led weaning parents generally share their own meals with their baby, there can often be a lack of options when it comes to handy ready-made food for your baby. Particularly healthy and nutritious snack food for when out and about. I’m sure we’d all like the time to bake up batches of muffins and mini quiches, but realistically - and I know this from being back at work full-time now - sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

In the package I received (Prices at time of writing)…

“Mini muffins”:
- Raspberry and Coconut (£2.27)
- Carrot and Pumpkin Seed (£2.27)
- Pea, Mint and Apple (£2.27)
- Courgette and Sultana (£2.27)

“Fists full of food”:
- Sticky Quinoa Balls (£2.27)
- Falafels with Tzatziki Dip (£2.27)

“Superfood Sauces”:
- Tomato and Basil Superfood Sauce (£1.87)
- Fresh Vegetable Superfood Curry (£1.87)

“Savoury Spreads”:
- Avocado, Banana and Spirulina (£1.87)
- Sardine, Tomato and Cream Cheese (£1.87)
- Roasted Red Pepper Hummus (£1.87)


We received the food when my baby, Francesca, was eight or nine months old. By this time she was a confident eater and enjoyed food, although not at a stage where she was bothered about eating at every meal time, or even every day. We did, however, take snack food out with us to keep her occupied in certain situations. This usually consisted of things like rice cakes and raisins and a cup of water that I could keep in my bag.

The first Babean product I offered Francesca was a courgette and sultana muffin. She really got stuck in and enjoyed it. She ate half of it (which was a lot for her at the time). The rest of it crumbled up and she swiped it onto the floor, like they do!
Next I offered her a pea, mint and apple muffin. I sat her outside to eat this and I’m glad I did because she only had one tiny bite and then crumbled it up and threw it onto the ground.
A few days later, I tried her with the sardine, tomato and cream cheese spread on a rice cake. She wasn’t keen with it on the rice cake but when I put a dollop of the spread on her highchair tray she enjoyed sticking her fingers in it and licking it off. She also ate the roasted red pepper hummus in this way. She really enjoyed the hummus. However, she didn’t like the avocado, banana and spirulina spread at all.

I saved some of the food to take along to a baby led weaning meet-up that I had arranged. I decided to warm the food up before we went to see if it would make it less crumbly. I took the quinoa balls and two each of the raspberry and coconut muffins and the pea, mint and apple muffins. It wasn’t a good turnout unfortunately and there was only myself and Francesca and another mum and toddler. The toddler was also going through a not eating phase! Although Chloe, the toddler, and Francesca both had a little nibble of the food. They both preferred the raspberry and coconut muffins out of the three choices. The food was still warm when we got there but it still crumbled. The quinoa balls fell apart instantly and Chloe and Francesca both struggled to handle them.

Francesca got a bad cold then and didn’t want to eat much at all. She still wasn’t eating a couple of weeks later when we had another baby led weaning meet-up. But I took some more food along for her friend, Harriet, to try. I took the falafels and the carrot and pumpkin seed muffins and, again, warmed them up a bit before we went. Harriet really liked both these, particularly the falafels. Francesca just didn’t show any interest in eating at all that day :-( The falafels didn’t crumble too much but the muffins did again. A couple of days later, I offered Francesca a falafel with the dip at home. She did like the falafel and ate most of it but didn’t bother with the dip. Over the next few days, as she was feeling better, I offered her the rest of the muffins we had left. The courgette and sultana muffin and raspberry and coconut muffin remained her favourites. She did swipe the crumbly bits onto the floor though when they had crumbled too much for her.

We tried the Superfood Sauces last of all. I don’t cook separate meals for Francesca at all, so I used them in meals that myself, Francesca and her older sister, Lucinda, all ate together. I used the tomato and basil sauce in some pasta and I added the vegetable curry to some fried rice. We all enjoyed these meals.

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I can’t decide whether I think they’re expensive or not, as baby food isn’t something I buy at all. Having looked at the competitions’ “toddler meals”, for instance, it would seem as though £2 - £3 is the price something like this retails for. But I appreciate the quality ingredients and the personal effort that has gone into making Babean products - and they do certainly offer something a bit different to the competition.
I think parents who make their babies separate meals and snacks to themselves would benefit from the Babean range more than I would. I’m very much a “baby eats what I eat” kind of person so don’t really have the need for the Superfood Sauces or the spreads. But the muffins and other finger foods I’ve found to be handy if Francesca has been impatient waiting for dinner cooking and I’ve given her one to nibble on until the meal is ready. I don’t personally find this food suitable for out and about though, especially the muffins and the quinoa balls due to their crumbliness, but I would keep them in at home as convenient snack food and to occupy baby as mentioned.

Purchasing from Babean is not very easy at the moment, although they hope to offer more options in the future. I expect the difficulties lie with the products being sent out frozen and using a next day courier service. This postal service currently costs £14 per delivery so is more suited to businesses buying in bulk, along with the required minimum order of £25. If you are local to the Surrey / Hampshire area you can arrange to pick up any size order from them for free. They will also deliver for free within a 5 mile radius, with a minimum order of £25. The products are also stocked in four shops in their local area. They also attend various baby shows and food fairs, etc, where there is the opportunity to sample and buy. I hope they do offer more options, and better value postal services, soon. I won’t be able to buy any products from them until they do - or unless they find a stockist in my area - as I don’t have the freezer space to make it worth spending £25 and paying £14 delivery for the few varieties that I know Francesca likes. Although, I am tempted to try her with the food again to see if she likes it more now, as she has got to the stage where she really loves eating. Plus, there are lots more varieties now than a few months ago. It would be ideal if they could find some stockists in different areas of the country. I can think of a couple of retailers in my area that would be perfect.

Babean is a steadily expanding company and I really expect them to be very successful. Their range of food is growing and they have a brand sparkling new website and blog, which can be found here…

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