Weaning a young baby can be really overwhelming to new parents, and one of the questions we get again and again is how to introduce new foods. In what order should foods be introduced, and how can parents be sure that their little ones are getting adequate nutrition?
Our short answer: weaning takes time, a positive attitude and perseverance. Above all, stay calm and enjoy the process – that’s the best way to make it a wonderful experience for your little one.
Here are our top tips for introducing new foods, so you can give the best start for your baby – no matter what kind of day they (or you!) are having.
How do I decide what to give my baby first, and what should come next?
There are plenty of baby food companies out there luring in new parents with weaning charts and boxes to tick. Whilst that can be good fun, it can also be unnecessarily stressful. In reality weaning is an ongoing process – it’s a journey, not a tick-done exercise, and there’s really no ‘right’ way to do it.
Ultimately what your baby eats is up to you as the parent, and your baby will eat what is put in front of them. So have fun with the process, and remember that the real objective in all this is to guide your child toward a healthy relationship with food!
In the early stages, we like to recommend a mix of textures, both pureed and as finger foods for baby to experience. Think avocado, banana, steamed veg batons, and softly scrambled eggs. Put some on the tray of their high chair so they can process it with their hands, and don’t be shy to provide some on a spoon as well.
If there’s no history of allergy or reflux, there’s no need to introduce foods one at a time, though allergens such as eggs and soy should be spaced out every 2-3 days to observe for reactions.
As your baby gains confidence and learns more about flavour, you can start introducing more complex tastes with spices such as cinnamon and garlic, with new textures like cooked beans and quinoa.
My baby seems really fussy – she’s not enjoying these foods at all. What should I do?
Above all, stay calm and try not to worry. Your baby is learning so much about food and eating habits from your reactions alone!
Funny faces are par for the course with new foods and don’t necessarily mean dislike. Try not to forget – until this point, all they’ve known about food is milk! A whole new world is opening up to them. Try to respect that process. If they’re very agitated, simply bring mealtime to an end and try again with the same food in a day or two. There’s no pot of gold waiting at the end – enjoy the journey and let it do its work!
How do I get my baby to like the foods she’s spitting out?
Exposure breeds familiarity. It sounds tedious, but it can take 12-20 tastes before your little one learns to like a new food. Continue introducing the foods she’s spitting out, whilst remaining calm and positive, and eventually she will come to accept that taste! Yes, really!
The foods that your baby eats in its first two years will set their taste preferences and eating habits for life – it’s so important not to give up and to continue providing a wide variety of wholesome foods that will nourish their growing bodies and brains.
My baby is eating OK, but I’m not sure I’m giving a balanced diet. How can I be sure?
No panicking 🙂 Your baby definitely won’t eat a balanced diet of solid food in the beginning! Until 12 months, they’ll still get the majority of their nutrients from breastmilk or formula as they learn to eat as part of the family.
As your baby gains confidence with food, continue offering a wide variety and lots of different foods. Think colours – that’s the simplest way to ensure your baby is getting a varied diet. Eat the Rainbow!
Once they’re eating more or less as part of the family with three meals and snacks, you may find there are days that are just rubbish. Try not to stress, rather think about how your little one eats over the course of a week. If they’re getting various foods across the week, you’re on the right track!
A big thank you to Sophie Baron at Mamamade for this blog.