Weaning is a big, exciting adventure but it can be a daunting prospect too. These simple tips it will help make it a healthy, fun and exciting experience for you and your little one!
Ready, steady, GO? Check your little one is ready to wean before you start offering food. Babies are usually ready around the age of 6 months but you should avoid weaning before the age of 4 months.
Your little one should be able to sit up and hold their head steady, as well as be able to pick up an object like a spoon and pop it easily into their mouth. These simple tips come from Claire Baseley, nutritionist at Ella’s Kitchen.
Veg it! – Little ones naturally have a sweet tooth but starting weaning with veg, like broccoli, cauliflower and carrot, helps them learn to love veg from the very start. To begin with, it’s just about offering tiny tastes of single veggies, in variety, so don’t worry about how much your little one eats in the first few days as long as they have a taste.
Switch it! – The wider the range of foods you give your little one throughout weaning, the more likely they are to want to try new things when they’re older. Try to give your little one a rainbow of veg + fruit each week. You can also gradually introduce other foods – try lots of different protein sources like meat, fish, eggs, pulses, soy products for example and offer a range of starchy foods too – potatoes, pasta, sweet potato, bread, polenta, cous cous and rice are all great options.
Repeat it! – not everyone likes a food at the first try and the same is true of little ones. They might pull a face or spit out a food the first time they taste it but don’t give up after a couple of tries. It can take up to 8 separate occasions before babies will accept a new food. So keep trying and give lots of praise and smiles when they try something new.
Model behaviour – if your little one sees you eating and enjoying a food, they’re more likely to want to copy and give it a go themselves. So if possible, try to eat at the same time as your little one, at least some of the time, and show them how much you enjoy your veggies for example.
Good in every sense – Little ones who interact with foods using all their senses, are more likely to show an interest in trying new foods. Studies have shown that exploring the textures, colours, shapes and smells of foods can help encourage little ones to eat them at meal times. Let your baby explore raw and cooked veg with their hands to help familiarise them with new foods. You can even tell stories about food to get your little one interested. Broccoli looks like trees, cauliflower like clouds or sheep and strawberries look like little hedgehogs. For older babies, make a picture on the plate out of finger foods and tell a story about what’s going on.
Gimme 5 – get little hands working with some finger foods. From 6m, little ones can handle soft, melty finger foods like cooked carrot sticks or banana fingers, about the size of your index finger. Little ones love being in control and as they get more confident, you can offer more and more finger foods, like other cooked veg, pasta pieces (penne is a good size and shape), bread fingers, hard boiled egg slices or avocado fingers. Once they’re around 10 months, little ones can practise their pincer grip so try giving them halved blueberries or raspberries to get those fingers and thumbs working!
Buffet style – have a fussy eater that won’t eat veg? Try offering your little one a choice of 3 veg from which they can pick 2 to go on their plate. That way, they feel invested in the decision and are more likely to at least give the veg a try. Don’t pressurise them to eat but give them gentle encouragement to have a taste. It works well if you can sit round the table and share the veg from a serving bowl but that’s not always practical, so you can always show them the different veggies in the kitchen before you prepare them.
The most important thing to remember about your little one’s weaning journey is that it should be a fun, although often messy experience. Embrace the mess, show them how it’s done and make it enjoyable to help establish a health relationship with food for your little one.
Ella’s Kitchen has lots of different pouches and snacks, which can be recycled via EllaCycle. All around the country playgroups, shops and nurseries have set-up drop-off points for baby food pouches. Find out if there is an Ella's Kitchen drop off point near you https://www.ellaskitchen.co.uk/about-us/ellacycle/. If you find you don’t have a drop off point near, you can become an EllaCycle superhero and set up a drop-off point in your local community. Find out how join here: https://www.ellaskitchen.co.uk/about-us/ellacycle/. For every 5kg of pouches you return to us, we donate 2p per pouch to charities + good causes chosen by your local EllaCycle superhero.
The world’s first Pram Drive Thru was unveiled last week in London by Ella’s Kitchen, to provide inspiration + support for parents + little ones on the best way to introduce lots of veg during their weaning adventures!
The unique experience helped educate parents on how healthy food can be convenient + fun too! Throughout the drive-thru, the brand was giving away loads of their delicious and convenient veggie pouches to help parents feed their little ones yummy, nutritious food, fast.
Parents also had the opportunity to ask Ella’s Kitchen infant nutritionist Claire Baseley for guidance and for lots of tips for the weaning journey, whilst a living-veg wall offered diners a sensory experience to help encourage and delight little ones and give their tiny hands something touchy-feely to play with. The experience was designed to help parents encourage little ones to try lots of different veggies in different ways outside of mealtimes, so that eating a wider selection of veg becomes more enjoyable.