How to retain all healthy nutrients and store what you make.
The following tips should help you successfully establish a healthy eating pattern for your child which will have life-long benefits.
When to wean?*
There appears to be a 'window of opportunity' where an infant is open to accepting new tastes. For this reason weaning should start not later than 6 months.* However, solids should never be started before 4 months (17 weeks).
Start with a small amount of a very smooth purée with a runny consistency (well blended with your Braun Multiquick hand blender and diluted with breast or formula milk). Initially offer a small amount on the tip of spoon so that your baby gets used to its feel in her mouth. Remember, she's only ever experienced liquids up to this point. One or two teaspoons of purée each day is plenty to start with.
Babies are used to their food coming in an easy stream from the breast or bottle, so it may be better to give a small amount of feed first and then offer the solids so that she is not too hungry when the new tastes and textures arrive. You can then give the rest of the feed.
It's generally advisable to stick to purées made from single ingredients (diluted with breast milk or formula) before moving on to mixtures. Remember, solids are brand new to your baby so if at first he's not keen, just keep trying over the next few days, and if a particular food seems to be rejected, try it again in a few days.
An important part of teaching babies what is good to eat is giving them a wide range of freshly cooked foods in the weaning period.* When they move from a milk-only diet to a diet that includes other foods, this is the time when they start to recognise individual foods as being good to eat and accept new tastes and textures. These preferences can stay with them for life.
Babies also take their cues about what is good to eat from mum and dad. Once they are sitting up they will be keen to watch what you are eating. This is an important part of how they learn what is safe to eat, so it is important that you are eating healthy foods and very useful for them to hear you say how much you are enjoying that food.
The thickness of any purée can also be increased gradually by reducing the amount of breast milk or formula you use to dilute it, and blending it less and less with your Braun Multiquick hand blender. After the first couple of solid feeds, gradually introduce new tastes.
Never force your baby to eat more than she seems to want, let her take things at her own pace. As she gets accustomed to solid foods, start giving two meals a day, and then three.
Toddlers and beyond
Avoid offering whole nuts to children under age five. Cut grapes, carrots and similar foods into small chunks to prevent choking.
For some time, toddlers may limit the variety of foods they eat. This phase will normally pass without any problems but will be more evident in some toddlers than in others.
At the toddler stage many children who are fussy eaters are much more likely to try a new food if they are eating with other toddlers or older children who are also eating that food.
Remember that the quantity of food toddlers eat may vary from day to day. Some parents get anxious about this and toddlers then tend to react to parental anxiety by reducing the amount they eat.
Don't use food as a bribe – for example, saying "if you eat this food you can have that food". You don't want imply to your child that there are good foods and bad foods.
Your baby will probably be able to start feeding himself from around 7 to 8 months, as soon as he can grab and lift pieces of mashed banana, cooked apples or similar soft foods. If she is showing interest in wanting to feed herself, let her have a spoon to hold while you are feeding with another spoon. It will be messy but it is part of her learning about food and feeding.
You can start to offer sips of breast or formula milk from a sippy cup from about 6 months.
To help prevent upsets at mealtime, make sure you have foods ready before you sit your child at the table or in a high chair.
How much fluid should I give?
Babies, under 6 months
In the initial stages of weaning, babies will still be getting the fluid they need from breast milk and the solids they eat.* In very hot weather, formula-fed babies may need a little extra water that has been boiled and allowed to cool.
Babies, 7-12 months
As solids are thicker and contain less fluid, a little extra water can be offered with meals from a cup.
Offer 6 to 8 drinks from a cup each day. Milk and water are the best to offer as they do not damage teeth. Limit juices, sugary squashes and fizzy drinks as these can fill a small stomach, resulting in less food eaten at mealtimes.
* Babies are ready to eat solid foods at different ages. In case of doubt or questions, always check with your pediatrician.