If you are about to start on your baby’s exciting weaning journey you may have lots of questions on what type of food to offer. There is so much information available which can often be overwhelming and sometimes contradictory. We hope to answer some of your questions relating to textures in this blog.
When to start?
Your baby can be introduced to solid foods when they are around six months old. At this time it is still important to continue to offer their usual milk, breast milk or first infant formula. Weaning is an exciting time and a great opportunity to introduce a variety of foods. It helps starting off with a small amount of a single food such as vegetables and fruits. You only need to offer food once a day to being with. This helps baby get used to taking food from a spoon and to get used to new tastes and textures. Gradually increase the amount, variety and start to include foods from each food group.
Remember, each child is an individual and it is important to base progression on your baby’s developmental readiness.
Smooth, lumpy or finger foods?
It is important for your baby to get used to lots of different texture and tastes. Some parents like to start with purees/blended foods. To help your baby to learn to chew and move food around their mouth and swallow move to mashed and finger foods. You can even give your baby a spoon and let them explore foods themselves. Don’t worry if your baby is not so keen on lumpy foods to being with, they will get used to lumps in their own time. It is however an important skill to learn so keep offering mashed/lumpy foods.
Some parents prefer to offer just finger foods, this is fine too. This is often referred to as baby led weaning. There are a huge range of small, finger sized pieces of food you can offer. When preparing finger foods for your baby make sure you remove any skin, stringy bits, pips and stones. For example, the skin of a cucumber or the skin of a cooked apple. Some parents like to combine offering purees and finger foods. There is no right or wrong way. The important thing is for babies to get variety and the right nutrients. At mealtimes you can offer water from a cup. You can find lots more information on suitable cups in one of our recent blogs Choosing a cup for your baby . Once your baby is used to mashed/lumpy foods you can start to offer more family textures so try minced and chopped foods and a wide range of finger foods
Top tips when introducing new textures:
- It helps to sit with your baby at mealtimes, they will watch and learn from you
- Babies love picking up food and finger foods are a great way for them to learn to feed themselves. Remember it is important to always sit with baby when they are feeding
- Baby’s tummy is tiny, offer milk after solids so they do not fill up on milk before you offer food. If baby is refusing food don’t offer milk as an alternative as it will not encourage them to learn to bite and chew and get used to new foods
- Avoid distractions at meal times, such as sitting your baby in front of a television, phone or tablet. Mealtimes are an ideal opportunity to interact with your baby and talk to them
- Try not to be surprised if your baby spits the food out or appears to dislike it! New tastes take a little getting used to and we may have to offer a food more than 15 times before it becomes a favourite!
- The amount of food your baby eats will often vary from day to day. Your baby is able to control their appetite and will stop eating when he/she is full. Therefore when your baby shows signs they no longer want to eat, it’s important to stop feeding them. This may include: Clenching their mouth shut, turning their head or arch away from food, pushing the spoon and/ or food away and repeatedly spitting food out
You do not need to spend a lot of money on feeding equipment to get the right textures when you start to introduce your baby to solid foods. There are lots of items from around the house that will be perfect when preparing food for your baby.
If your baby starts off on smooth foods a handheld blender or a sieve will help you create this texture.
When your baby is ready for more mashed textures, a potato masher or a fork will help you create this texture.
Remember your baby can have the same food as the rest of the family, just don’t add any salt, sugar or hot spices to their portion. If you do need so extra inspiration on introducing solid foods there are loads of great resources that will help you with meal planning.
First Steps Nutrition Trust: Their practical guide ‘Eating well: the first year’ provides information and practical advice on introducing solid foods to babies, with recipes and photos to show the sorts of foods, and amounts of foods, that will give them a good start to their eating journey.
Early Start Nutrition: We have lots of great resources including our e-guide Feeding your Baby in the First Year which is now available! This interactive guide is perfect for families about to begin their baby’s exciting food journey! You can also explore our top tips, recipes and blog section for information on nutrition for your little ones, along with fun recipes that your children will love!
Start4Life: Have lots of fantastic recipe ideas and top tips to support you on your weaning journey.
We would love to get your feedback on your weaning journey and let us know if you have any questions on feeding your baby.