Weaning is an important milestone in your baby’s development and it’s not just about introducing solid foods, it’s also about having an adventure and helping your little one discover shape, texture and taste.
The weaning window, from around six to 12 months, provides the perfect opportunity for your baby to discover a variety of tastes, textures and shapes as it’s when your baby becomes naturally open to trying new foods.
Shapes make mealtimes interesting and fun and help little ones develop the skills they need to feed themselves.
Finger foods come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, just perfect for getting little fingers moving, gripping, grasping, picking up and discovering a range of foods. Offering baby such a wide variety of foods to play with not only helps improve hand eye co-ordination and motor skills, and helps them learn how to bite and chew, it also develops an awareness of their actions.
You can offer finger foods from all of the major food groups – protein, carbohydrate, dairy, fruit and vegetables.
However, there are also some finger foods to avoid, such as hard and sticky foods that can cause choking such as nuts, popcorn, marshmallows; and round foods whole like grapes or cherry tomatoes – of course you can cut them up into smaller pieces so they’re manageable and easier for baby to swallow.
Discovering texture is important as we love food not just because it tastes great but because we like how it feels too.
Frankie Phillips, Nutrition Advisor to Organix, recommends helping your baby discover as many textures as you can – juicy and fleshy, squishy, bouncy, melt in the mouth, grainy and bitty, crispy and crunchy, smooth and creamy, dry and crumbly.
After starting with smooth purées, you can offer soft lumps and mashed foods as early as six months.
Even if your baby’s teeth aren’t through yet, foods can still be chewed by their strong gums.
When your baby no longer spits out soft lumps and seems confident eating lumpy food you can introduce chopped and minced foods.
Tasting new foods for the very first time is an incredible experience. By adding interesting flavours to your baby’s diet you are encouraging them to become more familiar and open to trying new tastes as they grow older, which in turn will help inspire a lifelong love of good food.
It’s important to offer a wide range of sweet and savoury dishes. Don’t be put off if your baby spits out a new taste. It can take up to 14 attempts before a baby learns to like a new food, especially more challenging foods.
Be brave and offer more challenging tastes, such as bitter and sour, eg. kiwi, oranges, pepper, spinach.
For more advice on weaning and great tips on how to discover shape, texture and taste visit www.organix.com/discover