When your baby reaches the age of six months, she can start to eat lots of different foods, which is a very exciting time. Your baby will benefit if you try to get her used to a variety of tastes and textures sooner rather than later.
By feeding her a variety of foods, you can be sure she's getting the vitamins and minerals that she needs to grow. And you could be starting her on a healthy-eating habit that lasts a lifetime.
Give your baby a wide variety of vegetables as soon as you start weaning. Starting your baby off with vegetables early may mean she carries on eating and enjoying them when she’s older.
Vegetables add colour, texture and variety to her meals. They’re high in vitamins, minerals and fibre too. Vegetables help healthy growth and development, and may help to protect against some diseases in the long term.
It's easier to give new vegetables to your baby from the start of weaning. If you wait until she’s older, she’s more likely to reject unknown foods and unfamiliar flavours. If your baby pulls a face when she first tries a new vegetable, it may not mean she dislikes it. She may just be surprised by the new taste.
You can give your baby well-mashed or flaked fish from six months onwards. Fish is particularly good for your baby. It’s a great source of protein, vitamins and minerals. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish, particularly oily fish such as fresh salmon and mackerel, are important for your baby's brain development.
When you give your baby any fish, make sure it’s cooked thoroughly. It should begin to flake and be opaque. Always check the fish carefully and remove any bones.
Poultry and red meat
Meat is an excellent source of protein and a good source of nutrients such as iron and zinc. It also contains a small amount of vitamin D. When your baby is six months or seven months, the stores of iron that she built up when you were pregnant are starting to run out. So it's important to introduce other sources of iron into her meals.
Once your baby is happily eating pureed or well-mashed fruit and vegetables, you can move on to poultry and red meat. Although you may not think of meat as an obvious weaning food, pureed or blended poultry or meat is a great food for your baby.
Pulses and beans
Pulses and beans are another good source of protein and iron. They’re quick and easy to cook to a soft texture that your baby will be able to manage, and are good substitutes for meat or fish.
If your baby is eating a vegetarian diet, try to give her pulses, such as beans, lentils or chickpeas, twice a day. Other meat alternatives which are also good sources of protein are thoroughly cooked eggs or tofu.
Try mixing lentils or other cooked pulses, such as chickpeas, with vegetables or fruits to help your baby to absorb the iron in them. For example, you could try giving your baby well-mashed or pureed lentils with carrots or sweet potatoes. The vitamin C in the vegetables helps your baby's body to absorb the iron.
Although your baby is now eating solid food, her regular milk is still an important food for her as a source of calcium and other nutrients.
When you first start introducing solid foods, your baby will be eating very small amounts of food, probably just one teaspoon or two teaspoons per meal. She’ll still be getting most of her nutrients from breastmilk or formula milk. So keep giving her regular breastfeeds, or between 500ml and 600ml of formula milk a day, as her main drink until she’s a year old.
You don’t need to give your baby follow-on milk. His usual milk and a variety of solid foods will give your growing baby all the nourishment he needs.
By the time your baby is a year old, she’ll be eating three meals a day, perhaps with one or two snacks in between. By then, you’ll find that she has dropped a milk feed or two. After that, you can give your baby cow's milk as a main drink if you want to.
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