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.

A baby being fed with a spoon

Cooking dos and don’ts

  • Offer lots of fruit and veg, 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 for under-twos.
  • Offer two courses: savoury and sweet (fruit.) Two courses means plenty of variety, and makes meals more interesting.
  • Babies can eat 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 First Steps Nutrition 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.

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. Bibs for baby, cloths to wipe up and covers for the furniture make cleaning up easier.
  • Eat together and talk to your baby. Sit with your baby at mealtimes, and let them 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 (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.

Further reading

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