Introducing your baby to solid foods can be a confusing time for many parents. New research from Public Health England found that one in three mothers (34%) felt pressure to wean their baby before six months, with 83% feeling they have to get it right all of the time as a mum.
However, the Start4Life weaning hub is packed with NHS-endorsed advice and tips for each stage. It contains simple healthy recipes and has everything parents need to know in one place, so they can introduce solid foods safely and healthily.
What’s more, the weaning hub has received praise from a host of celebrity parents including mum of one, actress Kara Tointon who said; “I started to introduce solid foods to Frey when he was around 6 months old. It’s been quite the journey as a first-time mum, and I had so many questions at the beginning which is why it is so important to have the Start4Life weaning hub as a trusted source of advice. It has been a lot of fun working out what foods he likes and the recipes on the Start4Life hub are a great source of inspiration for meal ideas.”
To help guide you on your weaning journey, we’ve spoken to Orla Hugueniot, a senior public health nutritionist and outlined a few tips and suggested recipes to help get you started.
1. Get creative!
Being adventurous with your own food, can be a very fun experiment. The same goes for your baby’s food. Now is the time to have some fun with your baby before they start to become picky eaters so don’t be afraid to introduce bold flavours. There is a tendency to think that babies won’t be able to handle anything strong or intense, with baby food often tasting quite bland. However, the more flavours your baby is exposed to at a young age, the most likely they are to eat a wider range of foods as they grow up!
Remember, your baby doesn’t need salt or sugar added to their food or cooking water at this age. Instead, herbs and spices are a great and natural way to open your baby’s mind to all kinds of flavours from across the world. Embrace your child’s curiosity at this precious age and broaden their horizons to the huge range of delicious tastes available!
Why not try this tasty Jamaican fish curry, packed full of flavours for your baby to explore:
How to make a fish curry for your baby
- 1/4 medium potato, peeled (50g)
- 1/4 medium onion, peeled (40g)
- 1/2 small red pepper, deseeded (55g)
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 1 1/2 heaped tbsp plantain, peeled (35g)
- 170g large cod (1 large)
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 150ml water
- 1/2 tsp curry powder
- 135g tinned chopped tomatoes
- 1 1/2 tbsp frozen peas (35g)
- 35g white rice (1 portion)
- Dice the potatoes. Boil for 10 to 15 minutes in unsalted water until cooked. Then drain.
- Meanwhile, chop the onions, peppers, garlic and plantain.
- Cut the fish into chunks, removing any bones.
- Heat the oil in a pan, add the onions and peppers and cook for 5 minutes until softened.
- Stir in garlic, water, curry powder, tomatoes and plantain.
- Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes until slightly thickened.
- Add the peas, fish and potatoes. Cook gently for a further 5 to 10 minutes until the fish is cooked.
- In the meantime, bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the rice for 15 to 20 minutes. Then drain.
- Serve quarter of the fish curry in a bowl with the rice.
2. Embrace the mess!
When you begin weaning your baby, it is important to get them used to new tastes and textures. Remember that eating is a sensory experience, no matter what your age is! Whether you follow the baby-led weaning approach or the traditional approach, texture is important.
When children eat with their hands, it is often a messy affair. However, it is good to let them explore their food this way to discover textures, but also to help develop independence and enjoy their meal!
Why not try and make this delicious beetroot dip with pitta fingers to add a new texture and interesting colour to mealtime:
Beetrot Dip with Pitta Fingers
- 1 medium beetroot, peeled and chopped (130g)
- Half tsp ground cumin
- 2-3 sprigs of fresh mint (4g) – optional
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp crème fraiche
- 1 tbsp cream cheese
- Half a mini pitta bread, cut into finger slices (1 portion)
- Peel and chop the beetroot.
- Place in a pan, bring to the boil then simmer for 10 to 15 minutes (or until tender).
- Once cooked, strain and leave to cool.
- In a bowl mix the cumin, mint (if using), lemon juice, cre?me fraiche and cream cheese together.
- Blend the cooled beetroot and mix with the cre?me fraiche mixture before serving.
- Cut the pitta bread into fingers. Serve alongside the bowl of beetroot for dipping.
- Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.
3. Make it a family affair
Babies learn from watching you eat, so try to feed them when you and the rest of the family are eating. This can also be a great time to bond and allow all members of the family to get involved. By making mealtimes a happy and joyful experience, you are
Chicken Noodles Recipe for Babies
- ¼ small onion, peeled (20g)
- ¼ medium carrot, peeled (30g)
- 125g chicken breast
- 235ml boiling water
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 45g tinned sweetcorn
- 60g egg noodles (dried)
- Slice the onion and carrots. Dice the chicken.
- Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the chicken and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until starting to brown.
- Add the onion, carrots and sweetcorn – cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the water, simmer for 5 minutes
- Finally, break the noodles up a little and add to the pan. Simmer for a further 5 to 10 minutes until the chicken, vegetables and noodles are cooked. Add a little water during cooking if needed.
- Mash or blend until smooth (with soft lumps).
- Put quarter of the noodles in a bowl, and allow to cool a little before serving with a spoon or fork.
Introducing your baby to solid foods can seem like a daunting prospect, but remember that this is an exciting time in your child’s life so try to relax and enjoy yourself! If you have any questions or need some recipe inspiration, click here.