Weaning baby from liquids to solids
The eating habits, foods and flavours that are introduced from the beginning, will establish behaviour and eating practices for your bub for the rest of their life. Choices made at this stage, including the introduction to foods, initiate habits that may continue long into childhood, and subsequently adulthood. It's important to ensure these choices are appropriate for optimal growth, body weight and dental health.
It is important to begin with single ingredient solid foods which are recommended as being low irritant. These include baby rice cereal, steamed and pureed fruits, such as pear and apple, and steamed and pureed vegetables, such as potato, sweet potato and pumpkin. It is advisable to introduce new foods carefully, by testing them in small quantities over 2-3 days; this allows parents to easily identify any food-related problems, as well as allowing bub the chance to learn the tastes and textures of new foods.
Don't worry if they do not seem to like some foods straight away. This is all very new to them and research shows they need at least 10 tastes of the same food before they decide to like it. It is vital that bubs' food contains no added salt, sugar, artificial preservatives, flavours or colours. The introduction of processed foods of any kind, like processed meats, soft drinks, and savoury snack items, are not recommended for babies and children.
The cooking method is also extremely important in retaining vital nutrients for bub. Steaming is the best cooking method for hard fruits and vegetables. This method retains maximum nutrients, as well as the natural colour, flavour, aroma and texture of the food. Since bubs eat such small quantities to start with, it's usually easier to cook in bulk and freeze in cubes or containers. Freezing is a great way to preserve nutrients, taste and texture of the food.
The nutritional quality of the diet is important to ensure that the child receives the levels of nutrients specified in the recommended dietary intakes. It is important to start with all natural ingredients, which are not over cooked, so the foods taste just as they are meant to, whilst still maintaining different textures and progressing from soft, lumpy then finger food. This is why dietitians do not recommend the regular use of shelf stable baby food, as it has undergone high temperature heating, which affects the flavour, texture and nutrient values. There are other commercial foods available which are more appropriate for everyday use. These include fresh and frozen varieties.
It is recommended that by the time the bub is 12 months of age they have been introduced to a full range of fruit, vegetables, cereal and protein sources.
Healthy Eating Habits for Life
Ensuring the best practice eating habits are introduced when your bub is beginning to eat solid food is a very cost effective way to promote optimal heath and development in your child as they grow right through into adulthood.
Bubs need to consume sufficient amounts of essential nutrients including proteins, carbohydrates and fatty acids, particularly long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids.
The infant feeding guidelines associated with the NHMRC Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescence have recommendations to identify and promote the best eating habits and behaviour as your children are introduced to new foods. The following points are all very important in encouraging your Bub to have a good relationship with food.
- Small amounts of foods eaten frequently
- Routine in daily life
- Keep meals simple
- Happy family meal time
- Have fun with food!
- Don't bribe with food
- Don't force feed
- Junk food is not acceptable
- Set a good example for your children, by including nutritious meals and exercise in family life
Introducing Solids - When, What & How?
|Around 6 months
|Baby Rice Cereal||Iron fortified & mixed with breast milk or formula.|
|Vegetables||Mashed or pureed. Start with pumpkin, potato or sweet potato, then stronger flavours like broccoli or cauliflower. Steamed or boiled is best.|
|Fruits||Mashed or pureed. Skin and seeds removed. Start with apple or pear and move onto mango, peach, banana and avocado. Stew or steam harder fruits to soften.|
|From 8 months
|Meats||Finely chopped or minced. Gradually introduce meat and fish for 1 meal per day. One flavour at a time. Steam or poach meat, before pureeing.|
|Continue Fruits & Vegetables||Mashed, lumpy or coarsely pureed.|
|9 -12 months
Start Finger Foods
|Continue iron-fortified mixed cereal||Iron fortified & mixed with breast milk or formula.|
|White or wholemeal bread or toast (not grain bread)||Top with margarine or avocado|
|Pasta||Cooked macaroni or spiral shapes.|
|Rice||A challenge for the fingers! Best mixed with a meal & served with a spoon, or made into gluggy balls for finger food.|
|Fruit||Pieces of soft fruit (watermelon, banana or apricot), thin slices of apple or pear, soft dried fruit.|
|Vegetables||Cooked pieces (cubes/fingers) of potato, carrot, zucchini, whole peas, beans, pieces of cauliflower or broccoli.|
|Dairy||Full fat dairy products. Pasteurised milk in preparation of meals or desserts. Milk should not be offered as a drink until 12 months.
Cheese - grated, cubed or sliced.
Yogurt - plain (not vanilla), sweeten with fruit if desired.
|Meat, Fish & Chicken||Finely chopped or minced. Meatloaf/patties, fish patties, chicken drumsticks. Remove all skin, gristle and bones.|
|Beans||Lentil patties, whole beans, tofu pieces.|
|Eggs||Soft boiled, strips of omelette, halves of hard boiled eggs.|
|From 12 months
|Family Food||Chopped or mashed to bubs preferred texture.|
|Continue Finger Food||Sandwiches, cheese cubes, strips of meat or omelette, cooked pasta, steamed vegetables, chunks of fruit, sultanas - a challenge for little fingers.|
Easy Meal Ideas for All Ages
Chicken and Vegetables
From 8 months
- Gently steam 1 medium chicken breast and mixed vegetables. You can use fresh or frozen vegetables (frozen are often more nutritious!)
- Puree according to bubs preference, adding water if required to achieve desired texture
- Freeze extra portions, for use as required
- Spoon chicken and vegetable puree, into the centre of a puff pastry sheet
- Roll up into long roll
- Bake as directed on puff pastry packaging
- Chop into smaller rolls
- Serve with a yummy pumpkin puree or tomato dipping sauce.
For Older Children and Parents
- Spoon chicken and vegetable puree into vol-au-vent pastry
- Top with a little grated cheese, herbs, chilli, or whatever your heart desires!
- Bake as directed on pastry packaging
- Enjoy! These are a great, easy and healthy party food
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