When it’s time to wean your baby it’s not just about introducing solid foods, it’s also about having an adventure and helping your little one discover shape, texture and taste - together they help build your baby’s confidence and enjoyment with food.
Weaning is an important milestone in your baby’s development, and to help mums and dads Organix has introduced a new discover campaign with the launch of an online hub at: www.organix.com/discover. The site is packed with advice and creative resources about feeding your baby, lots of top tips and activities on shape, texture and taste to inspire you, food ideas to help you take your little one on a food adventure, as well as food planners and videos – there’s even a quiz.
The weaning window, from around six to 12 months, provides the perfect opportunity for your baby to discover a variety of tastes, textures and shapes as it’s when your baby becomes naturally open to trying new foods.
Shapes make mealtimes interesting and fun and help little ones develop the skills they need to feed themselves.
Finger foods come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, just perfect for getting little fingers moving, gripping, grasping, picking up and discovering a range of foods. Offering baby such a wide variety of foods to play with not only helps improve hand eye co-ordination and motor skills, and helps them learn how to bite and chew, it also develops an awareness of their actions. It’s a chance to discover a full sensory experience – to squeeze foods, change their shape and break down foods.
Did you know?
· Your little one can start discovering shape through finger foods when they can lift and support their head without help, sit supported, and reach out for foods.
· Feeding themselves gives your baby control, independence and the chance to recognise when they’re full.
· Your baby can still enjoy finger foods if they haven’t got teeth yet as they can ‘gum’ foods into small pieces.
· You can offer finger foods from all of the major food groups – protein, carbohydrate, dairy, fruit and vegetables.
· However, there are also some finger foods to avoid, such as hard and sticky foods that can cause choking, eg nuts, popcorn, marshmallows; and round foods whole, eg grapes or cherry tomatoes - of course you can cut them up into smaller pieces so they’re manageable and easier for baby to swallow.
· Use food as an opportunity to interact with your baby – it’s a great way to introduce them to new words for shapes and foods.
· Cut family foods, such as pasta and meat, into small pieces, so baby can take part in the meal too.
· In the Organix mum and baby tasting session, mums said:
o “The way I present food is definitely something I’ll be thinking about now, making it into a picture and something a bit more fun”
o “He really impressed me with how he was able to grasp things and put them into his mouth when they were so small ”
Discovering texture is important as we love food not just because it tastes great but because we like how it feels too.
Texture is more exciting than just lumps, and to prove the point Organix got a group of mums and dads to try a selection of foods whilst blindfolded. One of the dads said: “You’ve had one of your senses taken away, it gets you to focus on the detail of food and makes it more intriguing, it’s like our little ones when it’s the first time they’ve tried anything – they’ve got it all going on!”
Frankie Phillips, Nutrition Advisor to Organix, recommends helping your baby discover as many textures as you can – juicy and fleshy, squishy, bouncy, melt in the mouth, grainy and bitty, crispy and crunchy, smooth and creamy, dry and crumbly. For example, pieces of banana will let them safely experience different textures and foods breaking down in their mouths – banana pieces can be offered as early as six months.
Did you know?
· Your baby needs to learn to get to grips with new textures and this can take practice, so he may spit out a new texture.
· Your baby may move quickly from one texture to the next, or may take a little time to master it – everyone goes at their own pace so don’t worry.
· Even if your baby’s teeth aren’t through yet, foods can still be chewed by their strong gums.
· After starting with smooth purées, you can offer soft lumps and mashed foods as early as six months.
· Introducing lumpy foods takes more effort for your baby as they need to learn to use their tongue muscles and their jaw to chew and then swallow.
· When your baby no longer spits out soft lumps and seems confident eating lumpy food you can introduce chopped and minced foods.
Tasting new foods for the very first time is an incredible experience. By adding interesting flavours to your baby’s diet you are encouraging them to become more familiar and open to trying new tastes as they grow older, which in turn will help inspire a lifelong love of good food.
In the Organix mum and baby tasting session, one mum said: “Little ones are more adventurous than you think. We tried celeriac and kale and my little girl loved the grapefruit, I would try that at home now, yet before I would never have introduced it.”
Did you know?
· It’s important to offer a wide range of sweet and savoury dishes.
· Babies naturally prefer sweet flavours and all other tastes are learned.
· Frankie Phillips, Nutrition Advisor to Organix, says it can take up to 14 attempts before a baby learns to like a new food, especially more challenging foods – so don’t worry if your little one refuses a food during their first few attempts.
· Don’t wait too long to start getting adventurous with taste – vary the menu.
· Offering two courses is a great way to offer your baby a wide range of tastes.
· Be brave and offer more challenging tastes, such as bitter and sour, eg. kiwi, oranges, pepper, spinach.
· Try not to mask challenging tastes with easier ones, so allow your baby to enjoy the real taste of broccoli rather than perhaps mixing it with apple purée.
· Rotating new foods with ones your baby already likes will give lots of chances to discover and enjoy more foods.
What we think at Mummy Fever:
We love all these new products from Organix. The fruit moos and stars have been a big hit with my youngest and these types of snacks really help to develop the pincer grip in little people. These really are yummy, you will have to stop yourself from eating these! They are bursting with a fruity flavour.The read pepper hearts have also gone down very well but have a pack of wipes to hand with these ones as they are quite messy. These are great to give to little ones as a snack or have a couple out at meal times so they can feed themselves whilst you spoon in whatever else is being served up - it keeps them busy and involved.
For more advice on weaning and great tips on how to discover shape, texture and taste visit www.organix.com/discover