Having weaned five babies on to solids now I thought I would share some of the things I have learnt over the years. Hopefully they will help you if you are about to venture into this
messy exciting part of your baby’s development!
When weaning babies on to solids you have two choices, but whether you choose the puréed foods or the baby led weaning route, for the first few weeks your baby will be on single foods. For example puréed carrot or slices of avocado. At first it can be tempting to try lot’s of new foods just so you can giggle at the face pulling from the different flavours and textures. But actually, due to the increases in allergies and intollerance I recommend that you begin slowly so you can easily figure out which ones you need to avoid if your child shows any adverse reactions.
Some reactions will be immediate, or appear within a few hours but others, especially gut issues can take as long as a couple of days to appear. I would say three or four days is the ideal time to wait in between introducing new foods. This way you can easily determine which food is actually causing the problems.
Make your life easier
I learnt quite early on in my parenting life that I had no interest in making separate meals for my children. Our time as parents is precious and really there is no need to be making something different for them when what you are eating is just as good, if not healthier!
This goes for babies too. As long as you watch the salt content and don’t use highly processed foods (so no potato waffles and chicken nuggets!) your baby can eat exactly what you do! Cook up some extras to keep in the fridge for the next day or two. When they are at the stage of having a mixture of foods, my babies will often have for lunch what we had for tea the day before. You can of course freeze small meals which are handy for those days when we seem to need an extra couple of hours adding on to the day!
Don’t be Afraid of Flavour
Baby foods tend to be very bland. After all mixing peas and parsnip isn’t the most exciting combination in the world, and have you ever tasted jars or sachets of baby food? They are even blander than the home made variety! I don’t know why people feel that babies need such boring food. Now is the perfect time to introduce lot’s of flavours, and textures for that matter! The earlier you start and the more variety you offer now means you are much less likely to be raising a fussy eater.
Herbs and spices are the perfect way to liven up your baby’s menu and once you have purchased a packet of say, Italian herb mix, you are set for months. You can make a simple tomato sauce with onion, tomatoes and a sprinkle of these herbs. Simply stir into some cooked pasta or some pureed vegetables to give a bit of an extra taste. When your baby is old enough to have meats. You can also combine it with some minced beef and this can make a tasty bolognese or lasagne sauce the entire family can enjoy.
Do you often eat chilli? There is no reason your 8 month old child should miss out on this tasty meal either. Obviously if you tend to eat it so hot smoke comes out of your ears you will need to tame it down, just a tad, so your baby doesn’t hit the roof with the first mouthful. Use a small amount of chilli powder before taking out a portion for your child then you can add as much fire and brimstone as you can handle!
The same goes for curries. My kids have always had mild, coconutty (that’s a word right!?!), creamy curries from a young age. The mess one small child can make with a bowl of curry and rice is unbelievable, you will be finding stray grains or dried up rice for days!
Desserts can also be livened up with a spoonful of jam or a splash of vanilla in natural yogurt, or a pinch of cinnamon stirred into pureed fruit. And of course then there’s chocolate…
Some herbs and spices that are ideal to give your baby a flavour some menu are:
Italian herb mix
And that is just to begin with! The possibilities are endless.
What other flavours/extra tasty foods would you add to this list?