Weaning: Foods to eat and avoid

They’ve dropped the hints and you’ve picked up the signals; your little monster is around six months old and they’re ready to eat. We’re into the weaning stage. So, what are you actually supposed to feed them? Eventually, your kid will be able to tuck into the same meals as the rest of the family but for now you’ve got to start small (baby steps, right?), starting with the basics before building up to more complex tastes and textures; only then can you introduce them to your signature bolognese.

A few things to avoid

Salt — this is a big ‘no’ to begin with. Your baby’s kidney’s struggle to cope with it while they’re still developing. Plus, it’s an easy thing to get hooked on. No bacon, sausages, crackers, crisps. Stock cubes and gravy can be sneakily high in salt too; ours aren’t — and they’re suitable for babies from six months.

Sugar — we all love sugar; so it’s no wonder your kid’s eyes will absolutely light up when they try it for the first time. However, while they’re learning their first tastes, let them enjoy naturally healthy food. Naturally sweet foods like fruit are brilliant ways to start their taste adventure; it’s the refined stuff you need to avoid. Also, no fruit juice: it causes tooth decay.

Saturated fat — biscuits, cakes and all things high in saturated fat are off the menu. If you start them off healthy, they’ll get a taste for healthy things and will be less likely to crave these high-fat foods as they grow up.

Honey — yep, it’s a natural sugar but it contains a bacteria that can cause problems for your baby’s intestines, so it isn’t worth the risk.

Some cheeses — most cheeses are fine: anything pasteurised, hard or of the cottage or creamed variety is a good source of calcium. It’s the unpasteurised or mould-ripened cheeses (think brie and camembert) that you need to avoid. And no blue cheese, but we’re yet to find a kid who likes that anyway.

A few things they should definitely eat

Fruit and veg — These bad boys are going to make up the main part of your kid’s diet. Pack in the variety; work through the seasonal offerings. Don’t miss out on bitter flavours, including broccoli, spinach and cabbage; these might take a little longer for your kid to get used to but persist.

Iron and protein-rich food — choose meat, fish, beans and lentils, or dark leafy greens; you’ll need at least one or two of these to keep your kid’s iron reserves topped up. They’re also high in protein too – essential for growing a healthy kid.

Full-fat dairy (yoghurt and cheese) — plain yoghurt or fromage frais (always go for full-fat) are a good and easy way for your baby to get dairy, calcium and calories into their diet. Hard and cream cheeses are also a great way for them to explore different flavour and texture.

Starchy carbs — they’re hardly going to be eating lots of these but it’s still important to factor in carbs. Potatoes, bread, rice, and pasta are all good places to start. Toasted soldiers make superb finger food.

Food that contains allergens — it’s best to spot if your kid has any allergies early and this can be done by introducing small bits of allergenic food to their diet one at a time e.g. some crushed peanuts, shellfish, cow’s milk, or food that contains gluten.