Archive for First foods

Weaning Top Tips from Dietitians

Apple on books small


Last night dietitians from all four corners of the world, came together on twitter to chat about weaning. There were more than 500 tweets in 1 hour and lots of tips and experiences were shared so I thought I would capture a few for your benefit.

  • A variety of tastes and textures is key to successful weaning and a lower risk of fussy eating later in life
  • Mum is an important role model. Its important for mum to not influence her little one with her likes and dislikes
  • Having family meals together may help your baby accept new flavours (a spoon for baby and a spoon for mum) and gets them ready for fmaily meals later
  • Never give up, after many attempts they may eventually accept that new flavour
  • Babyled weaning may encourage self feeding but may not be suitable for slow developers. Its ok to combine spoon feeding with self feeding.
  • Spoon feeding has its place if done properly. Let your baby come to the spoon and not the other way round.
  • Weaning is great time for the whole family to start some new eating habits
  • Don’t feel you have to cook new recipes when weaning. Amend family favourites to make sure they are low in salt and sugar
  • Cook in bulk and freeze for days when you are not cooking.
  • Keep commercial weaning foods for when you need the convenience, they are not for everyday.
  • If you are worried about the choking risk, do a first aid course so you know what to do if it ever happens.
  • Expect lots of mess but have fun!

Catch up on the full twitter chat here: Weaning

Variety is the spice of life


There is some evidence to show that the more foods, textures and flavours you can introduce to your baby during weaning, the less fussy he/she will be later on in life. Don’t be scared to rattle through new foods but repetition of foods is also important. Tasting a food or drink more often increases the liking for it so don’t give up!

TOP TIP: Try to strike a good balance between introducing new flavours and repeating old ones.

Reference: Harris G (2008). Development of taste and food preferences in children. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care 11 (3): 315-319



Fine tuning a new skill. The first week

Oscar Sweet potato close up


Day 2

Today I tried 2 spoons of baby rice again. He is still unsure. He looks like he has just sucked a sour lemon!

Day 3

Pear for afternoon tea today. His first taste of something that isn’t milk. Despite it being sweet, he is still not convinced. He still sticks his tongue out but every now and then he gets the hang of it.

TOP TIP: when Oscar was unsure, I broke up the solids experience with a few sucks on his bottle. He then relaxed and was happy to try another mouthful.

Day 4 

Sweet potatoes are a total success!!! He not only mastered the tongue action today (well, it still comes out first on his tongue before he swallows it) but he also asked for more. I couldn’t believe it. He has gone from two tentative mouthfuls of pear this morning to more than five of sweet potato.

TOP TIP: Coloured vegetables like sweet potato leave coloured marks! Weaning is meant to be messy but be prepared. We needed to change clothes afterwards. Oh and giving your child sweet potato just before you take him to meet family friends for the first time is not a great idea. And I was wearing white…nice!

Day 5

It’s amazing how quickly your baby masters swallowing. Today Oscar wolfed down his cube of sweet potato (fast becoming a firm favourite) and I had to quickly defrost a cube of pear. I could not keep up!

TOP TIP: be ready with the next spoonful. Remember that a liquid diet can be consumed quickly so your little one easily becomes impatient with solids!


How to progress

Oscar eating baby rice

How quickly you progress depends on when you decide to start weaning. If your baby is 4 months you will go at a slower rate than if your baby is six months. Allow your baby to guide you.

As a rough guide, start with a spoonful once a day for the first week so your baby can get used to it. As he accepts solids you can start to introduce a second spoonful and add less liquid (making the puree less runny). Then introduce solids at a second feed. When your little one is ready, introduce solids at a third feed.

Below is a rough schedule to aim for;

First Feed Milk-feed
Breakfast Cereal/Porridge/Rice with milk
Lunch Vegetable puree
Afternoon Milk-Feed
Dinner Fruit puree
Bedtime Milk-Feed

This first stage of weaning is about your baby learning a new skill and trying new tastes. Breast milk/formula remains the main source of  nutrition so don’t cut out any milk feeds until solids are more established. When your baby is taking a few mouthfuls of solids you can start with the solids first and then top up with milk.

TOP TIP: You can play with the texture. The carrot puree I made was too watery so I added some baby rice to thicken it all up. You can add breastmilk or formula if you want to make the purée runnier. As your baby advances, make the purée thicker.


That first spoonful…

Oscar eating baby rice

It’s exciting but needs some planning

  • Choose a time when your baby is happy and alert (usually mid morning after a feed and a nap) and you are relaxed
  • Help your little one sit up supported (car seat, bumba seat, a bouncer or a high chair if they are able)
  • Make sure you sit facing your baby so they can see your face
  • Start with a smile. Remember this is a new experience and your baby will look for reassurance from you.
  • Eating food is a new skill that needs to be learnt. Babies naturally push their tongues forward when they drink milk so need to learn another tongue movement with solids.
  • Don’t push them. Some babies need more time and one spoonful may be all they can manage at a time
  • Once a day is enough for the first week
  • Allow no more than 30 minutes per meal time
  • Put the spoon in your baby’s mouth gently. You can use your baby’s top gum and lip to carefully remove the puree from the spoon

I decided to start with baby rice. Making it up to runny yoghurt texture was not straight forward even though I followed the instructions. It came out very runny so I added a little more rice to get the right consistency. I also discovered it needs some time to thicken.

Oscar’s first mouthful was not how I imagined. I started with a smile and I expected him to be equally as happy. He opened his mouth and I gave him a small spoonful of baby rice. He didn’t know what to do with it! He frowned and stuck his tonque out and the food came out with it. I tried another spoonful and he gave me a disapproving glance, spitting it out again. It made me laugh and he smiled back. I suppose it a new skill he has to master (like rolling over) and so will take time. We’ll try again tomorrow.

TOP TIP: Let your baby suck the spoon. This is a good transition step from drinking milk to swallowing solids

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

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 .