When to introduce finger foods
I’m often asked when it is safe for babies to have ‘finger foods’. As soon as a baby is able to handle these foods properly and shows an interest in doing so is probably the best answer, and for most babies the fine finger control needed develops at around 7 months of age. Introducing some independent feeding using foods that baby can safely eat and which involve some chewing is fun and will help with speech development and the overall progress of babies towards family-type meals. Don’t worry if your baby hasn’t got any teeth yet, their gums are hard enough for them to manage many finger foods quite easily now.
You can choose a variety of nutritious finger foods of different shapes and colours for your baby to enjoy, offering some at each mealtime alongside their normal meal. Start off with softer foods such as pieces of ripe fruit e.g. banana, melon, mango, pear, or lightly cooked vegetables e.g. carrot sticks, broccoli florets, baby sweetcorn, and gradually as they become more competent you can try other foods like those listed below:-
- fingers of pitta bread, toast or bread, rice cakes
- cooked pasta shapes
- cooked pieces of chicken or turkey, or fish
- quarters of hard-boiled egg, or scrambled egg
- grated cheese or cubes of cheese
- dried fruits e.g. apricots, raisins, sultanas
- raw vegetables e.g. tomatoes, cucumber, peppers
- roasted vegetable pieces, e.g. parsnip, carrot, sweet potato
For a selection of dip recipes to try with some finger foods, have a look at the weaning recipes on the HiPP Baby Club.
HiPP Organic offers a variety of finger foods for different stages, including Little Nibbles Rice Cakes for your baby to enjoy.
But remember, always stay with your baby and make sure they are sitting up straight while they’re eating, and avoid giving hard foods such as raw carrot, apple or whole grapes until you are confident that they can handle them without the risk of choking.
Hope it goes well.
Tags: babies, baby, Babyclub, eating, food, healthy, Helen, Hipp Organic, nutrition, organic, recipe, snacks, weaning, finger foods
Categories: About Hipp Organic, Baby development, Weaning
When is it safe to introduce gluten into my baby’s diet?
I hope you are all having a good week.
For those of you that have already started weaning, and also for those of you that aren't at that stage yet but still interested in what it's all about, a topic that often comes up is 'when is it safe to introduce gluten into my baby's diet?'
So what is gluten and why do people worry about it? Gluten is a protein found in some cereals, namely wheat, rye and barley, and it can cause an autoimmune disease called 'Coeliac disease'. This disease affects about 1 in 100 of the population and tends to run in families, where there's a 1 in 10 chance that a new baby will develop the condition if a close relative already has coeliac disease.
However, how you wean your baby isn't influenced by whether there's a family history of coeliac disease or not. If you start weaning between 4- 6 months, the current recommendation is that you should avoid giving gluten-containing foods until your baby has reached 6 months. Manufactured baby foods will tell you on the label if the product is gluten free. From 6 months, all babies should be introduced to some gluten-containing foods, including wheat based foods like pasta, bread, cereals. There are no benefits in delaying the introduction of gluten beyond 6 months for any babies.
At the risk of confusing you, it has been suggested recently however that introducing gluten between the age of 4-7 months while breastfeeding may actually reduce the risk of coeliac disease, type 1 diabetes and wheat allergy, so the recommendations on gluten might change in the future, but don't worry about that for now!
If you want to know more about coeliac disease, visit the Coeliac UK website.
Goodbye till next week.
Tags: baby, breast feeding, eating, food, healthy, Helen, Hipp Organic, nutrition, organic, weaning, gluten, coeliac disease
Categories: About Hipp Organic, Baby development, Milk feeding
Is a vegetarian diet safe for your baby?
In a recent Food Standards Agency survey, 5% of over 2000 adults surveyed claimed to be vegetarian or vegan, with women more likely to follow a vegetarian/vegan diet than men (6% vs 3%). Perhaps no surprises here, but how many parents want to wean their babies onto a vegetarian diet and is this a safe way of feeding?
I don’t know the answer to the first part of the question – I don’t think there is any accurate data to put a % to the number of babies being weaned as vegetarians. But I do know that babies and children can grow and develop normally on a vegetarian diet, provided extra attention is given to the foods they eat to make sure their nutritional needs are met. Vegetarian diets can be high in fibre, leading to lower energy intakes and reduced absorption of some important minerals, such as iron and zinc. You will need to make sure that there are alternative sources of iron in the diet if meat is excluded, so include foods such as pulses, beans, green leafy vegetables, and offer vitamin C from fruit, vegetables or fruit juices with every meal to improve iron absorption.
Vegan diets, on the other hand, can’t easily give babies all the nutrition they need and so these diets aren’t recommended for young babies, but if you are certain this is what you want for your baby you should definitely speak to a dietitian first.
All children between 6 months – 5 years who are following a vegetarian diet should be given vitamin drops containing vitamins A, C and D. Vegan children additionally need vitamin B12.
If you would like to read more about weaning your baby onto a vegetarian diet, have a look at the link below:
What are your thoughts on babies being given vegetarian diets? Let me know.
Tags: baby, eating, food, healthy, Helen, Hipp Organic, nutrition, organic, vitamins, weaning, vegetarian, vegan, fibre, iron, zinc, pulses, vitamin C
Categories: Baby development, Weaning
Babies with food intolerance
Most of you will know a baby, even if it’s not your own, with an intolerance to one food or other. Of course, in my job I often get asked for feeding advice for babies with food intolerances, and the most common is dairy intolerance. Cow’s milk protein intolerance, another name for dairy intolerance, is relatively common in babies and children, but luckily most of them will grow out of it by the age of 3. Symptoms of milk intolerance can include
eczema, vomiting, diarrhoea, and stomach cramps, and to alleviate the symptoms dietary changes need to be introduced. Because milk is such an import
ant source of nutrients, especially calcium, for infants and young children, if you suspect your baby has a dairy intolerance it is important that you don’t cut milk and dairy products out of your baby’s diet without talking to your GP or a dietitian first.
If you are advised to start a milk-free diet, carry on breastfeeding or give an appropriate formula and, if you’ve started weaning, give milk-free foods. Although it is quite obvious that some foods contain milk and should be avoided, e.g. cheese, yogurt, fromage frais, others are less so, such as manufactured foods. Always read food labels carefully and if in any doubt why not give the manufacturer a call, or look on their website?
To make sure your baby is getting enough calcium, a calcium supplement might be a good idea but check this with your dietitian/GP first.
Have you got any good milk-free weaning recipes you would like to share? Please get in touch.
Until next time...Helen
Tags: Hipp Organic, baby, born, weaning, intolerance, food, nutrition, symptoms, milk, eczema, Helen
Categories: Milk feeding, Weaning
Baby led weaning
Have any of you tried baby led weaning? For those of you that haven’t or don’t really know what it is, baby led weaning is where the baby is encouraged to feed themselves a variety of solid ‘finger’ foods from the start, and it has attracted a lot of attention in the last year or so. For those that have tried this new approach to weaning, how was it?
Although some parents swear by it and I can see why some parents might be attracted to it, it does tend to take more time and create more mess which won’t suit a
ll parents and babies. Also, from my point of view the lack of research into baby led weaning is a concern, particularly if parents’ nutritional knowledge is limited or if baby is relatively developmentally delayed. So the advice I give, and the Department of Health’s official advice, still focuses on a more conventional approach to weaning using spoon feeding and purees at the start.
Of course, finger foods should be included in traditional weaning from around 6-8 months anyway to encourage babies to chew and to feed themselves. This helps with speech development and overall progress of babies towards family-type meals. Offering a selection of nutritious finger foods really encourages independence and will suit some babies who tend to be more ‘picky’ about what they eat. But remember, always stay with your baby and make sure they are sitting up straight while they’re eating.
Read our suggestions for finger foods to offer your baby.
Have a good week! - Helen