This week sees the FIRST EVER National Weaning Week in the UK. Obviously I think this is fantastic. Raising awareness that there IS support available when you first start to offer solid foods is SO KEY. I speak to parents regularly who are confused, don’t know where to begin or have been given unhelpful information. That’s one of the reason why I’ve set up Little Foodie – there are LOTS of factsheets available on there (and some coming imminently too) that cover all you need to know about weaning. What to start with and what to do as you progress.
However, I thought I’d do a little Q and A here, to answer some of the common questions I get when it comes to introducing solid foods.
Weaning Q and A with Nutritionist Charlotte Stirling-Reed:
Q I’ve just started my first ever weaning adventure with my daughter. I just want to know if there is a recommended meal to offer first…breakfast, lunch or dinner?
A: Good question. No, it’s best to find the time of day that works for your family when first starting weaning. Find a time of day when baby isn’t too hungry or too full (maybe after a small feed) and when there are minimal distractions and you have plenty of time. After a few days or weeks (depending on baby’s age and stage) add another mealtime in and then after your baby is confident with that try another so they are having 3 meals a day not too long after you’ve first started.
Q My 7 month old is loving fruit purée but not the vegetables, what’s the best way to encourage vegetables into his diet? As I understand fruit purees can be sugary.
A: With children, acceptance of foods is ALL about familiarity. Children are born to like sweet tastes and flavours and so they don’t need any extra help in liking sweet foods, including fruits. It’s quite natural for little ones to reject more bitter and sour tastes initially, until they realise they are safe and build an ‘acceptance’ with those foods. Familiarity leads to acceptance so the most important thing is to keep offering foods such as vegetables, even if at first they are rejected. It can take up to around 15 times before children start to accept new tastes and flavours and so don’t give up. Variety is also key so plenty of vegetables, fruits, carbohydrates and protein and calcium foods in the diet!
Q I’m about to start offering my little one their first tastes of food. What foods should I start with?
A: It’s best to start with veggies when you first start offering solid foods. Babies already like sweet foods (it’s innate) and so offering something that they are not so familiar with (remember milk is fairly sweet) can help them to develop a liking for a wider variety of tastes and flavours. It’s a good idea to start with a small amount of vegetable mixed in with baby’s usual milk. Then vary the type of vegetable you’re offering over the next week or so. For example, you could try broccoli, spinach, sprouts and green beans. There is a factsheet on this EXACT topic coming out on Little Foodie website any time now, so watch this space on www.littlefoodie.org
Q I’ve started weaning already, but I’m wondering when should I start offering foods such as proteins and carbohydrates?
A: From 6 months of age most foods are fine to offer. It’s recently recommended that you start weaning with vegetables, to get babies used to a variety of bitter and more savory flavours. Once you’ve tried these then introducing foods such as rice, pasta and bread is a good idea, whilst still offering plenty of veggies and variety. These can be given mashed or as finger foods to baby. People often forget to offer protein and iron rich foods during weaning, so it’s great you’ve asked about this. These foods are important too as baby’s iron stores start to decline at around 6 months of age. Foods such as tinned beans (in water), lentils, eggs and nut butters are all good options to offer and most can be either mashed or offered as finger foods too.
Q My 10 month old loves veggies and carby foods such as pasta and bread, but doesn’t show much interest in meat or fish. What’s the best way to get protein in?
A: Foods such as eggs, beans, lentils, pulses, nut butters are all good options as meat alternatives. However, don’t give up with meat and fish, keep offering it every now and then and try and get your little one involved in family mealtimes so they see you eating a variety, including meat and fish too.
Q My 6 month old has three meals a day and loves her fruit and veg. When should I introduce thicker or mashed foods and also what can be added to it to give it more flavour as I know salt/sugar isn’t recommend?
A: You can add flavours such as herbs, a few non-strong spice and lemon juice to her foods. But remember that your baby doesn’t expect salt and sugar flavours in her food like we do. If you’re on 3 meals a day your baby can start to be offered thicker purees or even move on to mashed and lumpy foods now. Start gradually, but work up to thicker textures by adding less milk/water and blending less. Soon you can start just using a fork to mash foods and gradually get that thicker and thicker too.
Please send in any more questions you have about weaning and I will continue adding to this document to help ensure parents have answers to all their weaning questions.
I also have plenty of question and answers on my blog, including: