If you’re about to embark on the adventure of introducing your baby to solid foods, you may well be a bit nervous and unsure. What do you try first? What about the mess? And what if they just don’t like grown-up food and decide they’re not having any of it?
All of these are reasonable questions to have, but we’ve got good news for you – weaning really isn’t that bad. In fact, it can be an amazingly fun time (as long as you put down some plastic first!)
Why? Think of it this way: your baby comes equipped with an amazingly sensitive set of tastebuds that have (so far) never been used to taste anything except milk. You get the exciting job of introducing this brand-new little person to all the wonderful flavours there are in the world, from earthy carrots to tangy citrus to cool cucumber, and everything in between. (Bonus: the faces they make on tasting a new flavour for the first time are often quite priceless, so keep a camera handy!)
Another helpful thought to keep in mind is the old mantra “Food is just for fun until they’re one.” What this means is that the early months of weaning are all about helping your baby get used to the amazing range of flavours that foods have to offer. Quantity isn’t nearly as important as variety, because at this age, your baby will still be getting most of his or her nutrition and energy from milk.
This is a wonderful thing, because it frees you both up to relax and have a great time exploring the world of flavour. You might find your little one has a real preference for pumpkin or peas. A bit of soft watermelon makes a wonderful warm-weather treat to gnaw on. Or try offering a wedge of lemon for them to taste – the screwed-up face they make will be a sight to see, but don’t be surprised if they go straight back for more!
This is also a great chance to introduce lots and lots of less-sweet vegetables to your baby’s diet – the more savoury and pungent veggies (like greens, kale, broccoli and sprouts) are fantastic sources of nutrition, and younger babies are much more likely to accept these new flavours than, say, 2-year-olds!
Over time, you’ll come to know your baby’s favourites, but it’s also a good idea to keep pushing the boundaries of their flavour preferences, especially in the first months. If you’re offering your baby a healthy food and you get knocked back, try again another time (and again, and again – research shows it can take around ten tries to get babies to accept a new flavour they’re not sure about!)
Once they do accept a wide variety of new flavours, they are more likely to eat these foods throughout childhood – so if you’re keen on the idea of a toddler who will happily nosh on broccoli, it’s well worth being persistent.
Have you started the weaning adventure yet? Let us know how you’re going on our Facebook page, we’d love to hear from you!