10 Great Food Ideas for When You Start Weaning
The first stages of weaning are very exciting, as you introduce your baby to a world of different flavours and foods for the first time; but it can also be understandably intimidating. Once your baby turns six months old, they will be ready to start their weaning journey. Of course, it will be a learning curve for the both of you; but it doesn't have to be too stressful, or complicated.
We’ve put together a guide for foods that could be exciting, tasty, and most importantly nutritious; as you start the journey of weaning your baby.
Weaning your baby should be an enjoyable experience, for both of you. But as you may have noticed by now, babies can’t be rushed; so if your little one refuses food, stop and try again in a few days. You should never force solids on a baby. Begin by offering tiny amounts of food so he can get used to this new experience and taste. This is a big journey; discovering new tastes, and learning how to swallow. Start with one spoonful at a time, and wait until baby opens her mouth to offer more.
Many parents find it easier to start weaning at one meal per day. Lunch can be a good time to try solids with your baby as they are alert, and eager for playtime. As it’s important to purée all their food at the beginning, start with foods like baby cereals, yogurts, and bananas (which can all be diluted with a little of the baby’s milk or water); before moving onto more adventurous foods. Most babies can chew soft lumps, such as mashed banana or mashed vegetables even before their first teeth grow in; and as they develop, varying the texture of food not only helps them to chew, but also helps to develop the muscles which will be used for speaking.
2. Take It Slow
As you gradually broaden your repertoire of flavours; introduce one new food at a time, to make sure baby is not allergic; and consult your doctor if you have any concerns. However, just because you find one thing your baby loves, make sure you don’t get stuck in a rut. The food offered should become increasingly varied so that your baby can experience different tastes and flavours. Start by offering a runny texture, then gradually introduce thicker purées, before moving toward solid finger foods. At this point you can continue to breastfeed on demand, or feed baby with a bottle; gradually phasing it out till this is only done at bedtime.
3. Taste each colour of the rainbow
As is also recommended for adults, having a diet that includes food of every colour, ensures we get the full range on vitamins and minerals necessary. It also makes things much more exciting for babies; as they discover ‘real’ food for the very first time. So why not see how many colours you can include as you progress? Of course, harder textures like uncooked peppers should be saved until a little later:
Strawberries, Tomatoes, Raspberries, Salmon, Apricot, Cooked Carrots, Orange wedges, well-cooked Butternut Squash, Yellow Peppers, Sweetcorn, Banana Chunks, Pear, Avocado, Apple (sliced or stewed), Peas, Blueberries, very ripe Plums, Red Cabbage … the possibilities are endless!
4. No Salt & Sugar
At such an early stage, it is more important than ever to ensure that your little one isn’t eating too much salt or sugar. Babies should have a maximum of 1g of salt per day, most of which can be found in their daily intake of breastmilk/formula; so don’t add any to their food.
Similarly, babies under one should not be given any processed sugar or honey, as it can damage your baby’s teeth and can contain bacteria. Too much salt and sugar can also lead to Kidney problems, and childhood obesity. So don’t add any salt or sugar to their food. Avoid using stock cubes, which are often packed with salt; and be wary of ready-made meals.
5. Keep it natural
You want to give your little ones the best start in life; and the best way to do this is to make sure the food they get is as natural and nutritious as possible; and to avoid overly processed food. Of course, it’s great to make food from scratch as much as you can; but there are also great products out there like Glenisk Baby Yogurts, which not only have no added sugar; but also no artificial additives, flavourings or colours, and (as the whole range is organic) are free from any artificial pesticides and synthetic chemicals. Great for snack time!
6. Explore Soft & Squidgy Foods
There’s nothing quite like watching your baby discover the world; so watch as they taste the cool smoothness of a yogurt, the zinginess of apple puree, the tiny pops of squishing peas, and the warm softness of scrambled eggs for the very first time! Even unseasoned humous can be great for introducing little ones to savoury flavours.
Food is discovered as much through touch with little hands and the mouth, as it is through sight. As their grip and their teeth develop, it can be fun to play around with a greater range of textures; introducing the juicy firmness of a chunk of pineapple, the contrast between bouncy inside and crusty outside of fresh bread, slippery pealed grapes, and dried mango which can be sucked on for hours.
8. Variety is the spice of life
At first it may seem that food spends more time being played with than actually reaching the mouth, but it’s important to broaden baby’s knowledge of food without trying to force it. If something is marked as a ‘definite no’, just wait a while before testing it out again.
Try introducing different flavours by pureeing what the rest of the family is eating; and if you're worried about fresh food going off, buy in bulk, and freeze individual baby portions in sterilised ice trays, or sandwich bags.
9. Enjoy a Spoonful
When weaning, it doesn’t have to be a battle between spoon fed vs. finger foods. In fact, it can work well taking different approaches for different meals, e.g. spoon fed main meal of pureed food at lunch time, and baby-led finger foods for supper (before a bedtime bottle,) with a bit of both at breakfast. That can narrow down the choices for you, and lessens the stress if one is proving to be more tricky than the other at any stage. As they grow, babies love to be in control, so your little one may want to spoon feed himself. Just make sure you have a damp cloth nearby for those early attempts!
Using their hands to pick up and eat, can be great for helping babies discover more about food; as they can learn to recognise the touch, and smell, as well as the taste: Cooked broccoli has an exciting tree shape, chunks of cheese have unique texture; brown rice is a handy staple, and even strips of well-cooked steak can be exciting when they’re ready for a new adventure.
The great thing about weaning, is that it might even challenge you to try out new foods and flavours too. Bon Appetit!
What were your baby’s favourite foods while weaning? Any disasters?! We’d love to hear!
Read Next: Our Journey Through Weaning
This post is kindly sponsored by Glenisk, creator of delicious yogurts that are suitable for babies aged 6+ months. All Glenisk's baby range is certified organic, gluten-free, no added sugar, no colours, no preservatives, no artificial additives or sweeteners, and no bits! Perfect for little tummies.