How To Introduce Your Baby To New Flavours
Once your baby is over 6-months, you can begin the weaning process, and start making your baby’s diet a bit more adventurous.
Weaning is not only a time to gradually introduce your little one to solid foods, but it’s a time to have fun, and introduce him to flavours and tastes from all over the world.
Not all flavours are suitable for your baby yet, but there is more to first-time weaning than just mashed up sweet potato and banana.
READ MORE: What Is Baby-Led Weaning?
Start Young – Very Young
Did you know that a baby’s palate is actually influenced by the food you ate while you were still expecting? This continues when your baby’s born and you are breastfeeding. The flavours and kinds of tastes you eat are transmitted to them through your breast milk.
That’s why, as well as considering all the nutritional value for both of you, it’s important to include various flavours and tastes in your diet when you’re expecting or breastfeeding. Your baby’s palate begins with you!
When your baby is starting his weaning adventure, remember that he still needs his regular milk up until he’s about one year old. But by now his digestive and immune systems are strong enough to process solid foods as well. And this is when the fun starts.
It’s important that you start slowly, with:
- Some purèed or well-mashed cooked vegetables like potato, sweet potato, butternut squash, parsnip, carrot, courgette, broccoli or cauliflower.
- Fruit purèe, such as ripe cooked apple, pear, mango or papaya or mashed fruit such as ripe avocado or banana.
- Baby rice or other cereal mixed with your baby’s usual milk.
READ MORE: Time To Wean? Prepare To Clean
You know how if you’re eating the same foods for a period of time, you might get bored with it? Well, the same goes for babies. Once your baby is comfortable eating from a spoon, you can increase his range of foods:
- Purèed or blended meat, fish or chicken. Make completely sure that the meat is cooked thoroughly, and remove any bones as they may cause a choking hazard.
- Purèed or well-mashed lentils, split peas, chickpeas or other pulses.
- Purèed vegetables with stronger flavours, such as spinach, peas and cabbage.
Establish A Variety Of Tastes
Being adventurous with your own food, can be a very fun experiment. The same goes for your baby’s food.
Herbs and spices are a very good (and natural) way to introduce all kinds of flavours from across the world to your baby, without any added sugar or salt. The more flavours your child experiences at a young age, the more likely he is to eat a wide range of foods as he grows up. Cultures from around the world, like India and the Middle East, add a lot of variety to their babies’ food.
The eating habits you are establishing now, could come in handy when your baby’s bigger as it won’t get you stuck in a bland food rut. It’s also a way that might help prevent a fussy eater one day.
So get creative!
READ MORE: 10 Great Recipes For Early Stages Of Weaning
Take your time
When you’re baby’s bigger, he might be in a stage where he refuses to eat or try new foods. This is most likely a stage and he will outgrow it (hopefully soon!)
Read Next: 7 Strategies For Fussy Eaters
Expanding your child’s palate takes time and a lot of patience, but just keep on repeating every so often. It doesn’t happen overnight, so keep exposing your little one to different kinds of foods. If it’s a lost cause, try the new food with something he’s familiar with. This way you can gradually introduce new flavours to him.
Just stay strong. You’re introducing your child to a lifetime of adventurous eating, and could also be putting him on the path to good eating habits.
How To Introduce New Foods
- Get them involved. Take them with you to buy groceries and let them choose new and fun ingredients. Older children can also be involved in preparing the food: If they helped with the cooking, they’re more likely to eat it.
- Eat together. Don’t prepare separate meals for the family and your children. Ideally, everyone should eat the same food. If they see you enjoying something, they’ll be more likely to try it.
- Mix it up. Use a variety of different herbs, spices, vegetables, fruits, proteins and grains. The more colourful your dishes are, the better tasting and more nutritious they are. If you only offer them junk food like burgers and pizzas, that’ll be all they want to eat.
- Make ‘em dip it. Children love dipping their food into sauces. It’s fun and makes them feel in control. Just keep an eye to make sure you won’t have to clean the whole house afterwards.
READ MORE: 10 Amazing Snack Ideas For Baby-Led Feeding
Avoid These Foods If Your Child’s Younger Than One Year
Although it’s wise to introduce different flavours to your child from a young age, avoid the following foods until he’s at least one year old:
- Salt – Your little one’s kidneys can’t handle it yet.
- Sugar – Instead, try sweetening your baby’s food with mashed banana, a purèe of stewed dried fruit or expressed breastmilk.
- Honey – Your baby should only eat honey when he’s at least one year old. In rare cases, honey can contain a type of bacteria that can be toxic to a baby’s intestines.
- Artificial sweeteners – Diet drinks or anything else containing artificial sweeteners are not nutritious and can encourage a sweet tooth.
- Whole nuts – It can cause a choking hazard.
- Certain fish – Shark, swordfish and marlin can contain traces of mercury which can be dangerous to your baby. Rather stick to tuna or salmon.
- Tea or coffee – The tannin in tea may prevent your baby’s body from absorbing the iron in his food properly. Any caffeine is unsuitable for your baby. Rather stick to caffeine-free teas (like Rooibos).
- Low-fat foods – Full-fat versions of yoghurts and cheeses are the way to go as your baby needs the calories.
- Soft, mould-ripened cheeses, raw or undercooked shellfish and eggs or liver pate – It can carry risk of food poisoning. Be safe, and don’t give your baby these to eat.
How do you introduce new flavours to your baby's diet? Tell us in the comments below.