Starting your baby on solid foods (also known as ‘weaning’) is an exciting time – but don’t feel you have to go out and buy all the different weaning products on the market. Here are some ideas to help you decide what you may actually need!
Food for baby
Homemade baby food – made from fresh ingredients – is a great way of providing your baby with a healthy meal full of important nutrients, flavours, colours and textures! Commercially produced baby foods can be convenient, but tend to be more expensive. They’re also not usually recommended for frequent ‘everyday’ use as they may delay chewing and hinder your baby’s acceptance of new tastes and textures.
When your baby is ready to start eating solid foods and you’re ready to start making your own ‘homemade’ baby food there a couple important things to remember:
- Your baby’s first foods can easily be made at home, but the types of food, textures and consistency need to be appropriate for your baby’s age and feeding stage. Babies start on mashed and puréed foods from around 6 months of age, progressing to minced or chopped foods and then by around 8 months most can happily handle ‘finger foods’.
For more information and tips on when to start introducing solids and the best kinds of foods and textures to start with watch our video Introducing Solids
- Following good food hygiene practices are important to help keep baby’s food safe and prevent them getting sick from food poisoning. Always make sure you use clean equipment to prepare, serve and store your baby food.
Preparing and storing food
There are lots of ‘weaning’ products on the market – but you will only need the basics to start with until you work out what you need – these will include equipment for preparing and then safely storing baby’s food until its needed and baby feeding equipment.
Baby’s first foods need to be puréed – using a steamer to soften fruit and vegetables before puréeing will help retain nutrients that may otherwise be lost during boiling, while slow cooking meat is a great way to make sure it is tender enough to add to your baby’s meals.
How to puree baby food?
First, prepare your ingredients. Peel the skin off fruits, vegetables or chicken, and remove the excess fat from meats. If you’re using fish, remove the bones. Steam, microwave or boil the ingredients until cooked and tender, keeping the cooking juices aside – you may need to add this to the puree once you blend it! Place all the ingredients in a blender, and puree until the consistency is smooth.
Puréeing can be done with anything from a stick mixer to a food processor! Mashed food can also be put through a sieve, mouli or food mill to help remove any unwanted lumps.
Once the food is prepared it needs to be safely stored until needed. It’s a good idea to have small sealed (air-tight) containers or plastic bags that can go in either the fridge or freezer. Ice-cube trays (that come with a cover) are ideal for freezing small quantities of prepared food.
Before getting your baby started on solid food there are also a few bits of feeding equipment you may need. These include:
- A plastic spoon for feeding – ideally small, soft and shallow
- A ‘sippy’ cup with a lid
- A high chair with a fitted harness
- Bibs, ‘mess’ mats and cleaning cloths – it’s going to get messy!
Starting your baby on solid foods is a big step – with lots of new tastes and textures for baby to experience. With a bit of planning and the right equipment everyone can safely enjoy the experience.