Best first foods to feed your baby
Weaning – when you introduce food other than milk to your baby – is not generally recommended for babies younger than 6 months.
However some parents do begin to offer ‘solids’ a little earlier, under the guidance of their health visitor. Especially if they have a very hungry baby.
Weaning – first steps
Your first attempts to feed your baby solids should probably be done at lunchtime, when your child is not too tired, but preferably before a milk feed, otherwise she might be too full to be interested in what’s on the spoon.
While you are still offering your baby milk through the day and night, your baby’s first attempts at eating solids will be more about getting used to a new experience rather than immediately tucking into a three-course meal. Indeed, the whole process might look less like ‘lunch’ and more like fingerpainting with mushy carrot. This is perfectly normal, so make sure you have bibs to hand and that your clothes as well as your baby’s are machine washable…
Vegetables and fruit
Try to keep first foods simple. Try mashed pea or mashed carrot as these are easy vegetables and naturally sweet. For the first couple of weeks stick to just vegetable or fruit options, or combine the two – mashed apple and courgette, for example.
Do NOT add seasoning – it’s not healthy for your baby to eat any salt or sugar in the first year and other spices are just not needed as your baby’s palate is not as sophisticated as yours might be.
Prepare the food by thoroughly washing the fruit or vegetable, boiling or (preferably) steaming it until very soft then mashing or blending it until there are no lumps at all – remember your baby has only had liquid milk until now. If you need to make the mixture a little softer and more runny, add a little cool, boiled water, or some of your baby’s usual breast or formula milk.
Another option for first attempts at weaning is ‘baby rice’. This is not regular rice as you would eat it but a special kind of porridge-like rice that is mixed with cool boiled water or breast or formula milk. You can make it very runny at first and gradually thicken it up or mix it with something like sweet potato, carrot or avocado.
Meat, fish and other foods
After about a month or so of weaning with simple vegetables and fruit, the purees get more thick and you can try adding a little bit of something else such as a mild fish (cod, coley or haddock but NOT smoked versions) or some chicken.
By about 9 months you could also try a little mild cheese or well cooked egg unless there are allergies in your immediate family. (If so, talk to your health visitor first – it might still be fine and these foods have valuable nutrients, but it’s wise to be cautious in the earliest months.)
A baby who is new to weaning may well only eat one or two mouthfuls at first, building up to a portion about the size of an ice cube. However some babies really do have bigger appetites and might eat two or three times that after the first week or so. Even if your baby looks very hungry, do not overfeed in one sitting and instead offer small portions two or three times a day.
If your baby needs a drink while feeding, offer a little cool, freshly boiled water in a baby cup. Your child does not need any drinks other than breast or formula milk, or cool, boiled water for the first year at least.
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