Archive for 26/08/2011

Making up first foods


Why bother?

A study by Coulthard et al. (2010) found that babies that were given more home-cooked fruits and vegetables at 6 months were more likely to eat fruit and vegetables when they were 7 years old.


Homemade First Foods

First foods (vegetables and fruits) don’t have to be difficult to make and the process for making them is pretty much the same…wash, peel, cube, boil/steam and puree.

The recipe below for carrots can also be used for sweet potato, potato, apples, pears, suede, parsnip, courgette, cauliflower and broccoli.  For butternut and pumpkin you need to remove the seeds and it will be easier to steam the cubes with the skin on. Once boiled they are easier to peel!

Avocado and Banana don’t need to be cooked, just mashed very well with a fork and then you can add milk to make it runny.

Carrot Puree

Take 100g of carrots, wash, peel and cube them. Place them in a saucepan with a little boiling water, cover and simmer for approximately 10 minutes or until tender. Keep an eye on the carrots and stir occasionally. Drain and puree with a little of your cooking water to get a smooth consistency. Some water soluble vitamins do leach into the cooking water and it would be a shame to lose them. You can also choose steaming or microwaving instead of boiling to soften the vegetables/fruit.

Make up batches and pop into ice cube trays. When frozen, pop the cubes into clean plastic bags and you have many meals ready to go.

Defrost only as much as you need and then add some cool boiled water or your baby’s usual milk to get the right consistency.

TOP TIP: To make it even easier, cook extra vegetables when you are making dinner and puree these.



Coulthard H., Harris G., Emmett P (2010) Long-term consequences of early fruit and vegetable feeding practices in the United Kingdom. Public Health Nutrition: 13(12), 2044–2051


Foods to Avoid

Less than you think!

The guidelines have been revised. Recent evidence indicates that potentially allergenic foods such as egg, fish, cow’s milk used in foods and cooking, cheese, yoghurt, wheat and other gluten containing cereals do not need to be delayed until a certain age. If there are some family allergies you may want to be more careful and check with your GP before starting weaning.

There are still a few things to avoid for all babies:

Honey before 1 year – due to the botulism risk

Whole nuts before 5 years – because of the choking risk

Sugar – children have a natural sweet tooth and this should not be encouraged. They also don’t need any extra sugar.

Salt – babies’ kidneys tolerate salt less well than ours. Don’t add any salt to their meals.

Cow’s milk as a main drink before 1 year – iron levels are lower in cow’s milk than in breastmilk or formula. You can offer cow’s milk as a drink aftre 1 year as then your baby should be getting most of the iron they need from the food they are eating.

See the link below for more information;

TOP TIP: Please avoid honey, sugar, salt and cow’s milk as a main drink until 1 year and whole nuts until your baby is 5 years old

Which food should I start with?

Weaning spoon

Baby Rice, Baby Porridge or Baby Cereal

Baby rice is great to start with as it still tastes of breastmilk or formula (you make it up with breastmilk/formula) but allows your little one to experience spoon feeding. Few babies are allergic to rice. Other options are baby cereal or baby porridge. These tend to be gluten free for those starting weaning under 6 months. You could make your own but I found the ready made packets easy to use and in the future you can add them to fruits and vegetables to bulk them up (e.g banana porridge).

Make up the baby rice/cereal as per the manufacturers instructions but the puree texture should resemble runny yoghurt. This semi-liquid consistency helps your little one get to grips with eating.

TOP TIP: Aim for the consistency of runny yoghurt when making up that first puree

What equipment do you need?

Oscar spoon close up

Not much really, although some people may encourage you kit out your whole kitchen. Save the money and spend it on fresh, tasty ingredients instead.

The Basics

  • Bibs – plastic backing will stop clothes getting stained
  • Shallow plastic weaning spoons
  • Hand blender – to make up purees with this. A food processor, liquidizer or sieve and spoon will work well too.
  • Ice cube trays – you freeze the puree in these
  • Plastic bags – to store frozen cubes
  • A saucepan with a lid
  • Sieve – to remove all lumps
  • A free flowing beaker with lid (see post on drinks to follow at a later date)
  • A high chair – for babies that need some support sitting you can use the car seat, bouncer or a bumba seat


  • A steamer (buy one you can just put on a saucepan and use for your own meals as well…two birds with one stone!)

TOP TIP: Let your baby play with the spoon a few days before trying with food. This will help him get used to having it in his mouth

Signs that your baby is ready

Oscar Sitting

Things to look for:

  • Can hold his head up and can sit supported
  • Putting things in his mouth e.g. rattle
  • Taking an interest in you eating
  • Seems hungry after milk feeds, demanding feeds more often
  • Waking up at night after previously sleeping through

TOP TIP:  eat in front of your baby as much as you can. Before they start eating, this will spark their interest and when they are eating,  it encourages them to try what you are eating. 

When is the right time to wean? The theory…

Every baby is different, so be guided by your little one but weaning should not be before 4 months or later than 6 months.

  • There has been a lot on this in the media recently so you are right to feel confused.
  • The World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months to protect babies in Developing countries against gastrointestinal infections.
  • There is no evidence to show that babies in the UK are more likely to get allergies or gastrointestinal infections if they are weaned before 6 months. In fact, introducing gluten between 4 and 7 months may reduce the risk of developing coeliac disease, type 1 diabetes and wheat allergy.
  • Before 4 months (17 weeks) his kidneys and digestive system are not ready for solids but by 6 months (26 weeks) formula/breast milk no longer provides all the nutrients needed.
  • Delayed weaning past 6 months may be linked with later feeding problems and development of allergies.

TOP TIP: Take the lead from your little one .


Trust a dietitian to know about weaning

Everyone is an expert when it comes to food! Especially anyone that has had a child. Often their views are conflicting and it can be confusing. Some opinions can be harmful to your baby. I found some weaning advice given online by a ‘leading’ UK nutritional therapist. Very scary stuff… a lot of it is bogus and some of it could really make your baby ill. Why take the risk?

When it comes to nutrition, trust a dietitian to know. Dietitians have to undergo rigorous academic and practical training before they are allowed to practice and are a regulated profession. FACT: anyone can call themselves a nutritionist, even if they haven’t studied nutrition! And just because a book has been published, it doesn’t mean the subject matter is correct. Choose carefully whose advice you follow.

Where possible, everything in this blog is supported by scientific evidence, national guidelines or by general consensus.

TOP TIP: Be wary of incorrect weaning advice. It can be harmful to your baby. Look out for the British Dietetic Association or Health Professions Council

Weaning made simple

Oscar bumba

Weaning doesn’t have to be daunting or complicated

Before I started I thought I would refresh my memory and look through several of the weaning books I have.  They are all more than 100 pages long!!! Which new parent has time to read on top of a busy day looking after a baby? I definitely don’t!

My aim with this blog is provide simple, bite size pieces of information that you can look at as you go along. All this information will be based on sound evidence and in line with current guidelines.  It will also be practical as I will have personally tried it all out.

Please feel free to share any of your tips or learnings. Weaning doesn’t have to be daunting. It should be fun and simple. Enjoy it, because if you do, then your little one will too! Good luck!

Welcome to My Weaning Blog

Oscar strawberry side view

Our Weaning Adventure

Weaning is an exciting but a daunting adventure that all parents must face when their baby reaches 6 months old. I am a dietitian with professional experience advising parents on how to wean and now I am doing it as a parent. And it’s definitely different being on the other side. I am really excited to share this journey with my little boy Oscar.

Weaning is very important for the future eating habits of your little one and how your baby is weaned really does matter. Research shows that babies weaned on home cooked foods eat more fruit and vegetables as toddlers than those weaned on prepared baby foods. I’m not the best cook but I am good enough, and determined to give it a go whilst having fun along the way!

I hope some of my learnings can help you. Please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences too.