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A Guide to First Foods: How to Relax and Enjoy the Mess


A Guide to First Foods: How to Relax and Enjoy the Mess

Introducing babies to solid food can be a very confusing and worrying time. Babies vary in so many ways; some take to solid food quicker than others, and appetites and tastes can vary too. But if your baby is eating nutritious food, even just a small amount, you are doing well!

Here are some tips to help reassure and guide you:

  1. Make sure your baby is ready; pushing a young, reluctant baby will make the start of the weaning process upsetting for you both.
  2. You may find it easier and the baby more comforted if you hold your baby on your lap while you feed her as this will help her feel loved and secure.
  3. If your baby has trouble with a spoon try tipping a clean finger in the pure and let her suck your finger for the first few mouthfuls.
  4. Laugh, smile, sing and taste your baby’s food at mealtimes – she’ll want to join in the fun by copying you and eating it herself.
  5. You can use cow’s milk in cooking for babies under one year old – but continue giving breast/formula milk as a drink for the first year. Pasteurised cow’s milk can be introduced from the age of 6 months with your baby’s cereal or in dishes like cauliflower cheese or rice pudding. Choose whole milk for your baby. Skim and other milks are too low in calories and do not contain enough vitamin A and D for babies and children under 2. You should also choose whole milk and not low fat dairy products like low fat yoghurts for your child as she needs the calories they provide.
  6. Iron deficiency is the commonest nutritional problem during early childhood. Red meat provides the best source of iron. Babies often reject red meat not because of the taste but the chewy texture. I find one of the best ways to get babies to enjoy eating red meat is to saut some onion and garlic, add some stewing steak and lots of root vegetables, like sweet potato, and carrots plus some stock and cook it slowly until very tender and then puree to a smooth consistency.
  7. There is a close relationship between eczema and immediate food allergies. There is also a clear relationship between the age at which the eczema first appeared, how severe it is and the likelihood of developing food allergies. Studies have shown that children with eczema often also have a food allergy and those with severe eczema that started before 6 months are at particular risk .
  8. A vegetarian diet can be fine for babies and small children as long as it is carefully balanced and does not contain too much fibre. Unlike adults, a bulky high fibre diet is unsuitable for young children as it is too low in calories and essential fats and hinders the absorption of iron. Good foods to introduce if your baby is being brought up on a vegetarian diet are eggs (well cooked and not before 6 months) lentils, fortified breakfast cereals, cheese and green vegetables like spinach and broccoli.
  9. Babies’ appetites can alter when they are cutting teeth or have growing spurts.
  10. You can reheat food in a microwave, but you must be careful that there are no hot spots, so it is important to stir the food thoroughly before giving it to your baby and always test the temperature of the food yourself first. When defrosting or reheating it is important that food is heated until piping hot in order to kill off any bacteria. Then leave it for a few minutes and allow it to cool down before giving it to your child.
  11. You can use frozen vegetables such as peas as all the nutrients are locked in. If you make pures from frozen vegetables you can cook them and then re-freeze them.
  12. There are a number of fruits that make excellent instant ‘no-cook’ baby food provided they are ripe. Bananas for example make perfect baby food. Simply mash with a fork, maybe adding a little of your baby’s usual milk if the texture is too thick. Papaya and avocado are also very nutritious and make excellent baby food.
  13. The important things are to try and relax and enjoy the weaning process, and not to worry about the mess!

Annabel Karmel is the mother of three children, a bestselling author of books on nutrition and cooking for babies and toddlers, and a familiar face on British television. Find more creative feeding advice and delicious recipes in her book SuperFoods and at her website.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

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