Weaning is such a magical milestone for our children. I've teamed up with Organix to explore how those first tastes of weaning help define a child’s future relationship with food.
Giving a precious baby their first solid food is such an important milestone. Cameras are brought out to take photos for posterity and parents are gathered, watching with melting hearts.
I remember my two children weaning so well. We celebrated their half birthdays at six months with their first solid foods. We did baby led weaning for them both, simply placing steamed broccoli in front of them for their first introduction to food and letting them explore. This meant broccoli in their ears, noses, hair and a few small bits in their cherubic mouths.
We skipped the pureeing and blending and instead offered them raw and steamed vegetables and fruit, letting them play and discover the new tastes and textures. Together at the table we watched as their adventures in food began. Yes, it went on the floor and stained their clothes, but when I look back on the weaning stage, the real memories are those laughing, smiling food-smeared little faces.
I breastfed my children and I knew that when they were each 6 months old they were getting all of the nourishment they needed already, so we didn't ever pressure them to eat. We simply laid out some healthy food in front of them and let them feed themselves. They didn't eat much at first, but the point of baby led weaning was just to let them get used to new tastes. Soon they began to eat more and more food and have grown to have a love of healthy food and a willingness to try new things. Sure, now that they're older they beg me for frozen yogurts and bits of chocolate, but I'm happy with their eating habits.
"It can be a challenge to keep offering new foods and coming up with new and inspiring ideas to tempt little ones, but it’s important as those first tastes during weaning help define a child’s future relationship with food." - Organix
My children are now aged 4 & 6 but we still have raw veggies on the table with hummus at every dinner. They sometimes get a bit picky and sometimes just want plain pasta, but they love their veggies and happily snack on them, particularly carrots, cucumber and peppers. I really feel that this is down to those first important months of weaning. They were exposed to a wide variety of colours, flavours, textures and tastes so no vegetables are unexpected or worrying.
Organix has teamed up with children’s food expert Lucy Thomas, and she has created lots of simple, fun activities to help inspire parents about introducing new taste sensations to their baby.
Lucy has some great tips such as:
- Celery sticks can be kept in the freezer to make a great teething tool and a good way to introduce a new taste.
- Babies love to watch their own reflection, so hold a mirror in front of your baby so they can watch themselves eat and see what they're exploring.
- Singing a nursery rhyme or song while introducing a trickier bitter flavour, like spinach or broccoli, will hep build a positive association with an seemingly unpopular flavour.
- Don't mask the strong or bitter flavour of vegetables with fruit. It's important to let your baby experience the real flavour.
Here's one of Lucy's games to play while weaning:
Tiny Taste Explorer
Plant a small bit of puree, yoghurt or hummus on the corner of your baby’s mouth, and their tongue will reach out to explore it. This is a gentle way of introducing a tiny taste of something new. Do this exercise looking in a mirror so your baby can see their tongue and facial expression.
Model for your baby and show them how your tongue stretches out to the side too and they will copy! This tongue movement is great exercise for your baby’s mouth in advance of learning to talk and controlling food in their mouth!
Organix have produced a book to help you navigate the weaning stages with hints and tips. Download your free copy of the Organix Little Book of Weaning
Use the hashtag #NoJunkJourney to share your weaning thoughts and experiences.
Disclosure: Organix commissioned me to write about weaning as part of my series of posts with them as a No Junk Mum. All opinions are my own. First three images courtesy of Shutterstock.