We share are baby food advice that will help you to help your baby grow up loving their food.
All parents want the best for their children and this includes a healthy, balanced diet. However, this is often easier said than done especially if your little one doesn't take an open minded approach to food.
The best way to teach your children to love food is to gradually introduce a wide range of different flavours and textures during the weaning process. While your baby may not seem to love every food straight away, with little perseverance and a few cunning tricks you'll be able to help them enjoy a balanced diet, full of all the nutrients they need to grow healthy and strong and lay the foundations for an opened minded approach to food when they're older and able to choose what to eat themselves.
To help you encourage your little one's love of food we share our top tips for introducing new foods into your baby's diet:
Don't expect it to be easy
Learning to eat isn't easy and it will take your little one a while to master the chewing and swallowing skills they need to cope with solid (or even pureed) food. To begin with it may seem that they're not eating very much at all and this can be quite frustrating, however this is fine as long as they're filling up on plenty of milk. Over time your little one will get better at eating and they'll gradually begin to consume more of the food you've prepared.
Introduce one food at a time
It's a good idea to introduce one new food at a time (once every 2 to 3 days is usually a good interval), this lets your baby get used to new tastes and textures gradually and also means that you can spot any potential reactions such as an upset tummy or rash.
Don't be surprised if your little one doesn't warm to a new food straight away, it may take several attempts and lots of clever blending before they begin to enjoy a new flavour. So, if your baby initially rejects a new food, don't be put off and try it again the next week, and again the following if they're still not interested. Disguising it as part of a sauce or pureeing it with something they do like will help them to get used to the flavour indirectly. Over time your baby's pallet will adapt to the new taste and they will learn to enjoy it.
Introduce food strategically
While most babies hit it off with fruit straight away, as its sweetness is very similar to the sweet taste of breast milk that they've become used to, vegetables are often another story. For this reason it can be a good idea to put off introducing fruit until your little one has learnt to eat a wide range of veggies. It's a good idea to start with a combination of green and yellow vegetables as yellow varieties such as parsnip, butternut squash and sweet potato tend to be sweeter in flavour and these can be used to soften the taste of more savoury vegetables such as peas and broccoli.
Get good at hiding
Once you've started weaning and are beginning to introduce an ever growing range of foods into your baby's diet a blender will become your new best friend - a plug-in hand blender is best as this means you can puree whatever you're cooking in the pan or bowl you prepared it in so there is less washing up. By mixing new vegetables in soups, stews, casseroles and pasta sauces you can get your little one used to a whole range of flavours and encourage them to eat a whole range of nutrients without making the fact that you're feeding them something new so obvious. For older babies, cheese sauce or a grated cheese 'topping' on vegetables can be a great way of making the healthy stuff more appealing. However, if your little one really hasn't warmed up to the taste of vegetables you could try mixing a little vegetable puree in with fruit puree, gradually increasing the proportion of the vegetable over a number of meals until they are willing to eat it on its own. Fortunately as babies have little idea as to what should 'go together' in terms of sweet and savoury you can get a way with unusual yet very tasty combinations that you would not be able to with adults.
Get your timing right
When you go to introduce a new food to your baby's diet it's important that they're feeling happy, rested and relaxed so that they will be more willing to experiment and try new things. Many parents find that mid morning is the best time, however this may not necessarily be the case for you. Over a few 'new food feeds' you'll begin to recognise at what time of day your baby is in the right 'frame of mind' to be more experimental with their diet.
Split up mealtimes
When you're starting out with solids or even introducing a new food later on it can be a good idea to split mealtimes in three phases as this method can help encourage your baby's interested in the new food. Firstly, start off by giving your little one about half of the milk they'd usually consume during a feed, next try them out with the new food, letting them eat until they show signs of having enough (i.e. repeatedly turning their head away), then finally feed them the remainder of the milk. By using this method you will ensure that your baby is not so hungry, or so full that they aren't interested in trying out the new food. You can also use this method to introduce a new food later on by sandwiching the new food between foods your little one is already familiar with.
Pre-pureed jars of baby food can seem convenient but they can give your baby a slightly skewed idea of what 'normal' food looks and feels like (not to mention the added expense of feeding your little one these for every meal). For this reason, wherever possible it is better to feed your baby home cooked food. This doesn't mean that you have to spend hours in the kitchen creating pureed masterpieces. Instead it is much easier to simply feed your baby what you're having, provided it's not too spicy or rich. Blending up a baby version or your meal will see your little one enjoying a whole range of nutrients and will introduce them to a much wider range of food tastes and textures. What's more, if you didn't eat particularly healthily before knowing that your baby is going to be having what you're having for tea may spur you on to cook more healthily for the whole family.
Teach by example
Babies are incredibly clever and they're much more likely to try a new food if they you eating it first (this is one of the big benefits of baby led weaning
). So, before introducing a new food, eat a little yourself and make 'yummy' noises to show that you're enjoying it (even if it's not one of your favourites). It can also be a good idea to give your baby a little of the new food to play with first, this can be a messy approach but the familiarity means that they may be more likely to give it a try.
Make mealtime fun
Eating regular meals at the table with your baby is a great way to make mealtimes a fun, relaxed experience rather than a chore. This also gives your baby the opportunity to watch you eat a whole range of foods, opening them up to the idea of trying them. If possible try to eat at least one meal together a day as a family, whether this is breakfast, lunch or dinner, sitting around a table (plus high chair). This will not only help encourage your baby's enjoyment of food but the 'chatter' will also encourage their developmental skills.
Would you class your little one as a 'fussy eater' or do they have a healthy appetite for food? Do you have any delicious baby friendly recipes or top feeding tips that you could share with other parents? Why not visit the AskBaby forums for a chat.