Introducing solids is such a daunting stage, and there is so much information out there, meaning that many are left feeling overwhelmed and not knowing where to start. I have written many blog posts on recognizing signs and some tips to make the process of introducing foods easier, but I have never focused on the cooking side.
Here are my top tips to preparing food for your baby and family.
1. Practice safe food handling practices. Always wash your hands before starting and after handling meat, eggs, poultry etc. Avoid cross-contamination by thoroughly washing your chopping board and all surfaces including your knives after chopping raw proteins. Only reheat the food you will need as you can’t heat and re-heat it over and over. When heating, always heat the food until piping hot, stir well to distribute heat and then then let it cool before offering to baby. Always check it yourself first.
2. Plan ahead and cook in bulk. There is no point making one meal at a time when it comes to baby food. Cook in bulk, divide into portions and freeze your food. We sell two sensational accessories, Qubies and Freezer Pods, that make this process so much easier.
3. No fancy equipment is required. Retailers offer an array of tools and equipment specially designed for making baby food. You don’t need them. Most foods, once cooked or even in their raw form, smash easily with a fork. For others, your home blender or food processor will do the trick.
4. Don’t be afraid to add liquid for purees when starting out. Just because your baby is young and starting out, you can still add liquid to assist with pureeing. Add water (even the water from the pot) breast milk or formula to assist with creating a smoother puree when starting out.
5. Steam, roast or boil smartly. Cut your veg into similar sizes to ensure they cook at the same rate. Try not to overcook the veg/fruit too much to retain nutrients. When roasting veg for finger food, don’t try for golden crispy roast potatoes, you want them cooked soft but not crispy.
6. Be adventurous. Babies (and toddlers, in fact, all of us) like food with flavour. It is a massive misconception that babies like or need bland food. Cook with flavour and love, and you will be rewarded with a happy eater. Serve bland, boring and repetitive food, and your child will start to refuse it. Use fresh herbs and gentle spices
7. Fats are ok. Don’t be shy about feeding your baby healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil, nuts, butters, butter or cheese. Fat is imperative for growing babies. It also adds lots of yummy flavours. Never use Lite versions of food such as milk and cheese. Babies need the calories to fuel their growing brains and bodies.
8. Persist with new foods. It can take time, and a lot of it for a baby to accept a new food. I’ve heard numbers ranging from 10 to 60 times before they may be willing to try it. I think the message is don’t give up. Keep serving broccoli or carrot or roast chicken or whatever it might be. Variety and persistence are the key to developing a well-rounded eater. If you allow your baby to become very narrow in their range of foods early, it will be very hard later to extend them and you will be left with a fussy eater.