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Weaning might be a messy, frustrating process at times, but it’s also pretty fun for everyone in the family. It’s a great way to introduce baby to the ritual of family mealtimes and let your baby start nibbling on some of the same foods that are on the menu – with a few baby-friendly tweaks, of course.
You’ll want to avoid foods with added salt or sugar and introduce textures and flavours gradually. Here are some tasty suggestions to get you started!
Mashed potato or other mashed vegetables
A big part of learning to wean is getting used to different food textures. Lumpy, mashed foods are great to start with as they discover how to move food around in their mouth and swallow.
Don’t be afraid to let them get literally stuck in with their hands and discover how to start to feed themselves.
Bananas are a classic baby-led weaning favourite food, and it’s not hard to see why. Naturally soft, they don’t pose any choking hazard, and are a great way to progress the weaning process, as babies learn to pick up food in their fists.
While you might fear the mess, this worry can be taken away by buying the right equipment. Invest in a highchair bib with sleeves and then serve up the banana pieces without worrying about how messy your baby will get afterwards.
However, don’t serve bananas whole – cut them up into small pieces for the perfect sized chunk for little hands.
Cooked firm fruits and vegetables
One of the great perks of baby-led weaning is that you don’t need to spend ages pureeing everything in a blender and introducing firmer textures early on will keep them open to trying a healthy variety of foods as they grow.
Once you start to get familiar with softer textures, you can begin to introduce more varied textures to encourage them to chew and swallow foods.
Steamed carrot pieces are firm enough to grasp while being easy to gnaw on, while cooked broccoli florets have a perfect baby-sized stalk to hold easily. Mix up colours and flavours to keep things interesting.
Cooked meat and chicken
As you start to progress with weaning, you might decide to bring a few more of the same meals enjoyed by the rest of the family onto your baby’s plate. Pieces of cooked meat or chicken are a great way of introducing healthy proteins and fats into their diets, as well as getting more essential nutrients like iron and zinc into the mix.
Cooked strips of beef or small pieces of roast chicken are good additions, but to avoid extra salt, make sure that you keep stock and gravy out of your baby’s serving.
Raw fruits and vegetables
After your baby is a little older and has their first teeth, you can begin to introduce them to biting and chewing firmer food. Crunchy foods, like pieces of apple or carrot sticks, or cool slices of cucumber, are perfect menu additions once they’ve started teething.
You’ll still want to keep things easy to hold, so small batons around 5-6 centimetres are just the right size for babies to pick up and feed themselves easily.