Weaning cooking and mealtime tips

Whether you’re trying baby-led weaning or spoon feeding, home cooking is a healthy, cheap option for mealtimes.

Below are some foods to try out and ways to make mealtimes fun.

Cooking dos and don’ts

  • Offer lots of fruit and vegetables, and give them a good wash first. This helps encourage healthy food habits later.
  • Stick with full-fat dairy foods like milk, cheese and yogurt until the age of two.
  • Offer two courses: savoury and sweet (fruit). Two courses means plenty of variety, and makes meals more interesting.
  • You can try introducing eggs after six months, but cook them until the white and yolk are solid.
  • Cook in bulk, and freeze small portions in containers or ice cube trays. Your baby won’t want much to begin with, so smaller portions help avoid waste.
  • Try new recipes: NHS Start4Life and BBC Good Food have lots of ideas.
  • Don’t add salt or sugar to recipes. It’s also best to avoid honey before 12 months, and use sparingly after that.
  • Try not to mask tricky flavours with easier ones: let your baby enjoy the real taste of veggies. For example, don’t mix broccoli with apple purée.
  • As your baby starts to eat more solid foods, you should also start to give them to water. There is detailed NHS guidance about what kinds of drinks you can introduce and how to do so.

Tips for mealtimes

  • Pick suitable times for your mealtime routine. If your baby is too tired, or too full from a milk feed, they may not be interested in new foods.
  • Expect some mess. Prepare some plastic bibs, cloths to wipe up and covers for the furniture to make cleaning up easier.
  • Eat together and talk to your baby. Sit with them at mealtimes, and encourage them to share your plate and taste your food.
  • Encourage your baby to play with food by mashing, squashing, licking and squeezing. It’s fun for them and helps them learn new flavours.
  • Give lots of praise and smiles so your baby can feel good about trying new things.
  • Introduce new foods one at a time. This way, you can spot which foods (if any) your baby is allergic or reacts poorly to.
  • Always supervise mealtimes, but trust your baby’s instincts. The gag reflex is further forwards in babies’ mouths than in adults. If food slips towards the back, they’ll cough it up.
  • Encourage your baby to lick away any food around their mouth. It helps develop muscles for talking and helps them learn to swallow.
  • Don’t get discouraged. You might need to offer a food, texture or flavour several times before they feel confident with it.
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This advice was written by our experienced Parent Talk coaches. Parent Talk is a free online service for parents and carers, provided by the charity Action for Children. For more advice, message our parenting coaches with our online chat.

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