Weaning your baby onto solids can be a tricky time for parents. From gagging on lumps to only eating one type of food, there's lots to navigate. It's not surprising really, as your baby
is switching from breast milk or formula to solids, which is a big change for your baby.
He has to learn quite quickly how to adapt to new tastes and textures. Here are some problems that happen a lot with weaning babies, with some expert advice from Claire Baseley, nutritionist at baby and toddler food brand, Ella's Kitchen (www.ellaskitchen.co.uk).
MY BABY GETS FOOD EVERYWHERE BUT IN HIS MOUTH
Claire says: ‘Children love to get stuck in with their hands, which usually means food ends up all over them, you and the whole kitchen!
‘Rest assured, some food will go in and you can always help it along the way with your spoon while your baby explores food with his hands. Babies who experience food with all their senses and get messy tend to be more accepting of new tastes, so while it’s a bit of a trial to clean up, it’s helping him to develop a healthy relationship with food.’
HE USUALLY TAKES AGES TO EAT ANYTHING
Claire says: ‘It’s really important to go at your baby’s pace when feeding, even if it seems really slow to you. He will tell you when he’s had enough by turning his head, pushing away the spoon or crying, so you’ll know when to stop.
‘Make sure you minimise any distractions, such as the TV or radio or any toys, that might take your son’s mind off eating and give him lots of smiles and praise for eating, especially when it’s a new food.’
HE GAGS ON EVEN THE TINIEST LUMP OF FOOD
Claire says: ‘Some children take to texture more quickly and easily than others. It’s really common for babies to gag on lumps when they’re first introduced, so do keep trying and be really positive, offering lots of smiles and encouragement to help him along. You can always try mashing up lumpier food more finely to begin with. Do keep trying though and he will eventually learn to accept more textured food.’
HE WON'T EAT ANY VEGETABLES AT ALL
Claire says: ‘Vegetables have a more bitter taste than fruit, and are less appealing at first to babies who naturally have a sweet tooth. Don’t worry though: babies do learn to love veggies if you keep trying. He will usually accept a veggie taste after 10 separate tries, so don’t give up! You won’t need to mix it with a sweet taste or hide it in other foods.
'The earlier you offer vegetables in weaning, the more likely babies are to accept a more savoury taste.
‘Just repeatedly offering a new vegetable taste up to 10 times should be enough to get your baby to accept and even like them.’
WHAT'S BABY LED WEANING AND SHOULD I BE DOING IT?
Claire says: ‘This is an approach where foods are given to a baby in the same form that an adult would eat them – cooked broccoli florets, pieces of chicken breast, whole green beans, etc.
‘Babies sit with the family at mealtimes and everyone eats the same food together. It’s a great way for your son to feel part of the family meal and allows him to eat what he wants from the selection offered and go at his own pace. However, it’s not for everyone. Babies need to be old enough to pick up a piece of food, bring it to their mouths, chew and swallow without choking.
‘Naturally, those weaned this way start later, when they’re developmentally ready and tend to eat less. You can always mix up the two by offering puréed and mashed foods together with finger foods like cooked veg sticks, pitta slices and later on, strips of cooked meat.’
HE WON'T TRY ANYTHING NEW
Claire says: ‘Babies and especially toddlers can be wary of any new tastes. This is a natural response and is very common. Much as it can be worrying, stay calm when your baby rejects a new food. Try to encourage him to try a little bit, even if he doesn’t eat it all up.
‘The more times he tries a new food, the more likely he is to accept it finally. Keep going, as it could take up to 10 tries but it will be worth it in the end. It’s also great if your son sees you eating the foods you’d like him to eat, as he loves to copy you!’
HE LOVES READY-MADE FOOD BUT WON'T EAT ANY OF MY CAREFULLY PREPARED HOMEMADE FOOD
Claire says: ‘It can be really upsetting after you’ve spent ages preparing homemade food, only for your precious baby to reject it in favour of a shop-bought alternative.
‘Do encourage him to try what you’ve made and show him how delicious you think it is, too! It helps if you are also eating with your baby, especially if it’s a similar looking meal.’