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Weaning food for babies With Paula Mee

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Paula started a four week strand on kids food last week. She talked about food for fussy eaters last week, Today she will focus on weaning food for babies. She will focus on 6 - 9 month olds and 9 months - 1 year

Weaning Foods
6-9 months old
For babies, the first taste of solids and the beginning of weaning is a significant milestone in their development.

The Department of Health recommends that spoonfeeds should be introduced to your baby's diet at 6 months if you have exclusively breastfed your baby, or sometime between 4-6 months if your baby has been fed formula milk. Exclusive breastfeeding means that your baby has only been given breast milk with no other foods or fluids.

The weaning process will begin with purees, progressing to more adventurous combinations of foods, with stronger flavours and thicker textures between 6 and 9 months.If you make your own baby food, you can also be certain that it only contains the best and freshest of ingredients. Homemade baby food is more economical, so just keep the bought baby food for emergencies and when you're travelling for convenience.

Every baby develops at his own pace, but your baby's first tooth will probably be cut at around 6-7 months. As teeth begin to come through, you can introduce coarser textures and wider combinations of ingredients, and don't be afraid to mix sweet with savoury.

You can now use cow's milk in cooking and with breakfast cereals, but formula or breast milk should remain your baby's main drink as these contain nutrients that cow's milk lacks, such as iron and vitamin D. Iron is particularly vital. Babies are born with sufficient iron reserves for the first 6 months of life, but after that, iron is required from food sources. Follow-on milks which contain more iron than standard formulas are designed for babies between 6 months and 2 years. Because they are more difficult to digest, they should not be given to babies under 6 months.

Ideal Foods to use at this age: Young courgettes
Butternut squash
Cantaloupe melon
Sweet potato

First Vegetable Puree

125g carrots, peeled
125g floury potatoes, peeled

1. Chop the carrots & potatoes into small pieces.
2. Put in a steamer or colander set over boiling water and cook for about 15 minutes or until tender.
3. Alternatively, place in a pan and pour over just enough boiling water to cover and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes until soft.
4. Blend the vegetables to a puree using some of the liquid from the bottom of the steamer or pan.
5. Spoon a little puree into your baby's bowl and serve lukewarm. Pour the remainder into sterilised ice-cube trays.
6. For variation, you can substitute other root vegetables, such as parsnip or swede. Chop, cook and blend as described above.

Halve the avocado, scoop out the stone and mash half the flesh with a fork, or puree to the desired consistency with about 2 tablespoons of breast of formula milk.

9 months - 18

Solid foods should now be the focus or your child's meals. This is a time of growing independence and your baby may insist on feeding herself. She will probably be much more proficient at chewing now, and chopped or mashed food can replace purees.

Even though your baby has just begun to take solids and has many more meals than other members of the family, let them sit beside the table in their high chair at family mealtimes as often as possible. This will teach them that meals are sociable and fun.

Your baby may be drinking less milk as their appetite for solid food increases, but they still need 400ml of their usual breast of formula milk per day. If your baby used bottles, aim to decrease their use gradually so you can dispense with them altogether during the coming weeks. It helps if you give most milk-feeds in a beaker or cup, or perhaps reserving a soothing bottle-feed for bedtime.

Bread & cereals - wholemeal bread, rusks, wholegrain low-sugar breakfast cereals. Avoid large amounts of high fibre foods such as high fibre bread or bran flakes - these are too difficult for young babies to digest.

Dairy products - pasteurised whole milk, whole-milk Greek yoghurt and fromage frais, cream cheese, mild hard cheeses such as Cheddar and Edam. Low-fat versions are not suitable as they are too low in calories for a growing baby.

Eggs - if hard-boiled and dishes made with well-cooked eggs such as eggy fried bread, omelettes, frittata, scrambled eggs. Don't serve raw or lightly cooked egg to babies under 1 year old (due to salmonella risk). The white and yolk should be cooked until solid.

Fish fillets - plaice, cod, whiting, salmon - may be made into a puree with potato and courgette or blended with homemade cheese sauce. Check all fish carefully for bones before serving.

Red meat - lean minced beef or lamb can be combined with sautéed onion, potato and mushrooms, then finely chopped in a blender. Slow cooked lamb, pork or beef casseroles make good purees.

Chicken - popular due to its mild taste. Serve chopped or pureed, casseroled or poached. It combines well with root veg such as potato and carrot, and fruits like dessert apple, grapes, mango or papaya.

Vegetables - onions, leeks, cabbage, kale, green beans, spinach, other leafy veg, red peppers, tomatoes, sweetcorn, peas, mushrooms.

Fruits - mangoes, grapes, citrus and berry fruits. Remove the pith from citrus fruits and sieve out seeds from berries. Use berries in small quantities as they can be indigestible (Some babies have strawberry allergy.)

Beans & pulses - ideal for boosting meat purees.

Tasty minced meat with swede or tomato:
½ tbsp vegetable oil
30g onion, finely chopped
125g lean minced beef
250g swede, chopped
2 tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and chopped
250ml unsalted chicken or beef stock

1. Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and sauté until softened.
2. Add the minced beef and sauté, stirring occasionally until browned.
3. Add the swede and tomatoes, pour over the stock, holding back a little if a thicker consistency is preferred, and bring to the boil.
4. Reduce the heat, cover and cook for 30 minutes.
5. Blend to a puree of the desired consistency.