The weaning journey
Aim to feed your baby meals at the same time as the rest of the family, starting at the easiest time for you – that might be breakfast when you’re relaxed in your PJs, dinner when the whole family comes together or lunch somewhere in between.
As your baby gets the hang of eating, increase the number of times food is offered to three meals a day.
Try and try again
Babies are born with a preference for sweet tastes, so often readily accept fruit and sweeter vegetables like carrots.
Getting other flavours in, especially vegetables with a hint of bitterness (like broccoli, kale or cabbage) can prove trickier.
The secret is to keep trying, over and over again. Babies will get used to new flavours eventually.
Model good behaviour
Showing a baby that you enjoy a variety of foods is very important as they copy your behaviour as they grow up.
A baby is born with a sensitive mouth, but by trying new textures it will desensitise over time.
To begin with a baby may gag on new textures; this is a normal response to trying to swallow lumps before ‘mushing’ them enough with their tongue.
Sometimes babies gag with a new flavour, too so don’t be put off from trying.
Babies learn through play and exploration of the world around them.
Food is just the same. Your baby will learn to recognise foods by sight, smell and touch.
Make sure you put food in a bowl in front of your baby, or finger foods on their high chair tray, so they can get their hands in, lick from their fingers and enjoy all the sensory experiences. Save wiping up for the end!
Range of textures
Offer a range of textures to your baby by including finger foods alongside blended. To start with offer soft or melting finger foods, the size of an adult index finger.
As your baby learns new eating skills this can progress to firmer textures or crumbly foods. Chewy foods are the last to be mastered.
Make sure you watch your child eating at all times to help them if they get into trouble.
Having a wide range of foods will ensure that a baby achieves a balanced diet.
Variation and appetite
Sometimes a baby may eat more one day or at one meal than another – this is totally normal.
Pushing food away or turning away are all signs they’ve had enough for now.
Some foods are packed with nutrients so a baby may only want small amounts.
Avoid starting the habit of overeating.