When your baby’s about six months old, you’ll start weaning them off milk and onto a more varied diet, which means new sources of nutrients for them. Ready for the challenge? Take note of these handy hints:
Get them used to new food.
You can start adding a couple of spoonfuls of pureed solid food to one of their meals. Don’t worry if they aren’t interested, but let them experience the new smells and textures.
Start with one solid meal a day.
Later you can build up to two and three when they’re about eight months old. Start off with purees, followed by blended food and finally small pieces that they can pick up with their hands and are easy to chew and swallow, such as peeled, ripe, seedless fruit, small bits of well-cooked pasta, cubes of fresh cheese or very soft vegetables.
A new food every five days.
It’s important to introduce new foods one by one to give yourself enough time to detect any allergies or intolerances. Let them get used to the novelty, watch how they react, and on with the next one!
Balance out their nutrients.
Once they’ve got used to their new diet and are eating solid food three times a day, start to pay attention to where they’re getting their nutrients from. Don’t worry, it’s not rocket science: just make sure they’re eating something from different food groups throughout the day.
Don’t force or bribe them.
At this growth phase, babies and toddlers should be beginning to control their appetite and to know when they’re full. If they don’t want any more, don’t make them eat up everything on their plate, or else they’ll end up seeing food as a punishment. Don’t reward them with food either, though.
Very important. Kids aren’t stupid. Like you, they like tasty homemade food lovingly made using fresh ingredients. If you sit them down to the same food every day, they’ll soon get bored with it.
Let them experiment.
Food isn’t a game, but for kids it’s a new experience that will shape the way they approach eating for the rest of their life. Let them pick up food to experience different textures as well as different flavours, let them mash up their food with a spoon, and let them try something the grownups are eating too.