Your baby will grow faster during their first year than at any time during their life which means good nutrition is vital and weaning your baby onto solid foods is therefore a critical part of this process. It need not however mean that milk stops being part of your baby’s diet. Rather, weaning is all about the gradual introduction of new and different flavours and textures to your little one’s delicate diet. It is consequently a fantastic journey of discovery to be shared by you and your baby.
When, how much, and how, to start weaning are questions that are best answered by your health partner, as the timing is as unique as your son or daughter. Many babies do start at around six months however. At this stage you can expect their tiny tummy to consume about one or two teaspoons of food at each feed. This may sound insignificant, but may be one of the biggest steps they make in their lifetime from a dietary point of view.
With such a momentous change, the reaction of your infant to an entirely new taste, texture, and way of getting sustenance could be very different from what is expected. Some babies take immediately to what is presented on a spoon; others may spit out your first offering. Even if you and your partner are lovers of a particular food, don’t expect your little one to inherit your tastes.
Choosing what to offer and preparing your own baby foods is quite possibly one of the most exciting parts of introducing solids. Ideal foods for the first few spoons include mashed fruit, root vegetable purees, or baby rice, all with a little milk. Fruits suitable to mash include banana, papaya or ripe peach. Some vegetables which puree well once cooked include carrot, potato, swede, parsnip, pumpkin, butternut squash and sweet potato. Baby rice is also a greater starter solid with milk, as it is easily digested, easy to prepare, comes fortified with vitamins and minerals, and can also be a great base to which to add fruit and vegetables.
Preparing these miniature ‘meals’ can be just as fulfilling as cradling your baby in your arms for breast or bottle feeds. The choice of ingredient is fun, as you discover the preferences of your budding gourmand. The choice of cooking method is just as satisfying as you choose one which not only fits in with your family but gives you the reward of knowing you are doing the best for your baby. Microwaving and steaming preserve the maximum amount of nutrients from the fresh food you have bought. You can then puree to your baby’s desired texture. Equipment is available to make this one of the easiest family meals you prepare. You simply scoop out a spoonful of the vegetables you serve for the family, and store them in food cube trays or stackable sealed pots, for complete peace of mind about the origin, preparation, ease and cost-effectiveness of your baby’s first foods.