Introducing New Foods
First foods should be simple and easy to digest. Start with a single ingredient, ideally a fruit or vegetable. Fruits such as apple, banana and avocado are a good place to start. Root vegetables like carrots, butternut squash and sweet potato are very popular first foods; they have a naturally sweet flavour and can easily be puréed to a smooth texture. As a tip, try mixing them with a little breast or formula milk to ease the transition. Updated advice is not to withhold foods like eggs, milk and peanut as giving these foods can actually help to reduce the risk of allergy developing in babies. The best thing you can do is to introduce new foods one by one. As reactions usually happen very soon after exposure, you don’t need to wait a huge amount of time between trying a new food, just go at your baby’s own pace.
Baby-led weaning provides a window of opportunity to introduce your baby to a variety of tastes and textures. But there are some foods to leave off the menu for babies under 12 months. These include:
- Mould-ripened soft cheeses
- Foods with added salt and sugar
- Whole cow’s milk (or goat’s / sheep’s milk) as a main drink. You can introduce a little into your baby’s foods from six months, once he’s started on solids.
- Shark, swordfish or marlin (due to high mercury levels).
- High choking-risk foods like whole grapes and whole/chopped nuts (although nut butters can be given at six months).
- Stimulants such as chocolate or sugar.
- Unhealthy and processed foods such as battered foods, sugary breakfast cereals, chips, and other foods that contain sugar.
- Caffeinated drinks such as tea, coffee, hot chocolate and cola.
Your baby should never be left alone while eating, and they must always be supported in an upright position. Babies can store food in their cheeks for quite some time after eating, so check that they have swallowed all of their food before leaving unattended.
And remember, baby-led weaning doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing method. You can choose to feed your baby soft finger foods and small portions of family meals alongside spoon-feeding purees. The important thing is that both you and your baby feel content and comfortable in your routine.
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