Baby's first tastes and textures
First foods to introduce
At Babease we find gently cooked vegetables and some fruit work wonders e.g. carrot, parsnip, potato, cauliflower, broccoli, sweet potato, apple, pear or soft ripe fruits, e.g. banana, avocado, peach. If you're spoon feeding you'll need to blend or mash and sieve the vegetables and fruits to a smooth puree. You can freeze extra puree in ice cube trays to use another day. Alternatively, fruits and vegetables can be cut into wedges, baton shapes or florets that your baby can hold as finger food.
At Babease, we have decided not to include meat, fish, gluten or dairy in our recipes, but that’s not us telling you not to include it in your own baby’s diet. We feel that you can get everything that you need as a baby from wonderful plant based food which can be more gentle on your baby’s tum. However, once your baby is used to the vegetables and fruits above, and you decide you want to follow a varied diet, you can introduce soft cooked meat e.g. chicken, fish (check carefully for bones), rice, lentils, pasta, chickpeas, hard-boiled eggs and full fat dairy products such as natural yoghurt and fromage frais (stick to plain ones as the fruit varieties can contain lots of sugar). If you are wanting to remain gluten free, then there are plenty of great gluten free pastas out there in the market, as well as dairy free yogurts, such as coconut yogurt, which is really yummy.
You can add flaked fish or finely minced cooked chicken to our pouches. Simply fork though the fish, mince or blend the chicken and add it to one of our stage 2 pouches either at room temp or heated to your baby’s liking.
Apart from breastmilk or formula, water is the best drink to offer your baby. Other drinks tend to contain sugar or fizz which damage developing teeth. Offer water with meals and try to introduce a cup from around 6 months. Using an open cup or free flow cup will help your baby learn to sip and is better for their teeth, not to mention it can help reduce wind by reducing the amount of air that they swallow.
First stage weaning menu ideas
The following menu ideas can all be adapted to spoon-led or baby-led weaning. Either puree for spoon-led weaning, or for baby-led weaning; cut into batons, wedges or good sized chunks (pieces the size of your finger work well) and serve raw for ripe fruits, such as banana, or lightly steamed for vegetables and firmer fruits such as apple.
First Foods Week 1
Try giving your baby solids at the same time each day e.g. lunchtime, to start with. If you're spoon feeding don't expect your little one to eat more than 1 or 2 teaspoons in the beginning. If you're baby-led weaning your little one will start by exploring the feel of the food in their mouth before actually eating anything. Your baby will be getting all of their nutrition from their milk at this stage.
Days 1-2 Try individual foods to start with such as carrot or sweet potato, either as a puree or in wedges or batons for your baby to hold.
Days 3-4 Introduce more new tastes, perhaps try pumpkin, parsnip, butternut squash or swede.
Days 5-7 Introduce a different taste each day, such as avocado, banana or lightly cooked apple or pear. Try not to focus on fruit purees alone as it may make it difficult to get your baby to eat vegetables. A healthy balance is the best approach, with vegetables making up to two thirds of your baby’s weaning diet.
If you're making your own purees for your baby you could try freezing extra portions in an ice cube tray in the freezer. Once frozen these can be popped into a bag in the freezer to use later. As your baby begins to have more of an appetite for solids you can try mixing 3 or 4 cubes of different vegetables together.
After first foods are accepted you can try mixing foods together and adding more challenging tastes such as broccoli or spinach. Your baby may be eating a little more now, however their milk feeds should still be the same as before.
Days 1-2 Try combinations of carrot, sweet potato and parsnip
Days 3-4 Try introducing cauliflower or sweetcorn
Days 5-7 Try adding green vegetables such as broccoli, spinach and courgette.
Weeks 3 to 4
Introduce solids at another time during the day, at breakfast time for example.
Breakfast: Banana & blueberries with baby rice.
Lunch: Sweet potato & parsnip.
Breakfast: Fruit puree (try peach, apricot or pear) with coconut or natural yoghurt. Or why not try introducing sweet potato in the puree, it tastes sweet but is packed with extra goodness.
Lunch: Carrot & peas
Breakfast: Porridge with banana or peach. Stewed prunes also work well.
Lunch: Butternut squash & broccoli
Weeks 5 to 6
Introduce another meal so that you're offering your baby breakfast, lunch and an evening meal. Continue to offer your baby's usual milk feeds, if they're eating well they may naturally cut down but you should still aim for 500-600ml milk a day.
Breakfast: Apple and cinnamon with coconut or natural yoghurt.
Lunch: Carrot & Cauliflower, Dessert: Mango.
Tea: Sweet potato & spinach.
Breakfast: Porridge with apricot.
Lunch: Leek, potato and broccoli, Dessert: Strawberries with banana.
Tea: Carrot & parsnip.
Breakfast: Avocado, try it plain or mixed with banana.
Lunch: Carrot, swede & courgette. Dessert: Raspberries and apple.
Tea: Butternut squash & peas.
Tips so that everyone enjoys weaning
Relax and embrace the mess!
At the very beginning your baby is just getting used to the idea of eating so don't worry about how much they eat.
Babies don't need three meals a day to start with so offer food at a time that suits you both.
Gradually increase the amount and variety of foods until they eventually eat smaller portions of the same food as the rest of the family.
Healthy Eating – If you offer your baby healthy foods from the beginning they are much more likely to grow up preferring the healthy options in life, so avoid offering foods with added sugar (fruits offer all the sweetness they need), salty or fatty foods.
Allow plenty of time for eating and follow your baby's lead.
Eat together as much as possible, your baby will learn from the rest of the family.
Don't force it – If your baby doesn't like a food, try it again another day. Babies can sometimes need more than 10 experiences of a food to get used to and enjoy the taste. Your baby will know when their tummy is full so don't try to make them finish a portion when they've had enough.
When they're eating three meals a day don't worry if they don't eat much one day, what they eat over a week is more important.
Let your baby feed themselves. Offer finger foods so that they get used to a variety of different tastes and textures.
Foods to avoid in the first year.
Do not use salt in cooking as your babies kidneys are not developed fully. This includes stock cubes or shop bought gravies as these can be high in salt (We have great recipes for perfect vegetable stocks you can use when cooking baby food).
To prevent tooth decay, avoid sugary snacks and drinks including fruit juice and other fruit drinks.
Babies under 12 months should not be given honey as it can contain harmful toxins that your baby cannot digest. Once your baby is over 12 months their digestive system will be mature enough to prevent these toxins from having an effect.
Whole nuts should be avoided until your baby reaches 5 years old due to the risk of choking. If there are no food allergies in the family, ground nuts and nut butters can be offered once your baby is six months old. If you are at all worried about nut allergies, then consult your health visitor before you explore nuts with your baby.
Shark, Swordfish and Marlin – these large fish can contain levels of mercury in them which can affect the nervous system. Raw Shellfish should be avoided due to the risk of food poisoning.
Saturated Fat such as those found in crisps, cakes and biscuits should be kept to a minimum to ensure a healthy, balanced diet.
Cows Milk as a drink
Using cows milk in cooking before your little ones first birthday is fine but it shouldn't be given as their main drink because it doesn't contain enough iron or vitamin c for their needs.
Eggs must be well cooked so that the egg white and yolk are solid to prevent food poisoning.
Above all, relax, be inventive and embrace and enjoy this stage of our journey! Watching as your baby enjoys real food is one of the proudest moments for a mum.
Remember, the exciting journey of food starts from the very first bite. Food for babies, not baby food.