Katie Hilton – iCandy Expert Midwife & Health Visitor
At iCandy we want you & your little one to enjoy starting solid foods. Weaning your little one onto solids can be both an exciting, frustrating, enjoyable and scary experience for both parents and little ones. One minute they absolutely love the butternut squash & apple puree that you spent hours roasting and blending for them, the next they’re spitting it back out at you with their mouth clamped shut. We asked our in house Expert Midwife, Health Visitor and Mum Katie Hilton for her top weaning tips to help make the experience go smoothly.
- Get stuck in - Babies and toddlers are very curious about the world around them, so it’s only natural for them to want to explore their new food with their fingers as well as with their mouths. Let them feel it, squidge it and smear it around on their face if they want to. It’s all part of the learning process!
- A spoon for baby, a spoon for you - Babies enjoy feeding themselves so as soon as your little one is able to hold a spoon, let them have a go! There will be baby food everywhere but that’s all part of the fun. Just look at the smile on their face! It’s a good idea to keep another spoon ready so that you can help them and let them try to copy you.
- Here comes the choo-choo - Some foods are more readily accepted than others. To encourage your baby to open their mouth wide for flavours they might not be so keen on, pretend the spoon is an aeroplane or train, and don't forget to make all the right noises! Try tasting the food yourself; if your little one sees you trying and enjoying it they are more likely to copy you. You also might surprise yourself and enjoy it, baby food doesn’t taste that bad – honest!
- Finger food towers - Little ones love to stack blocks, and knock them down again! Why not get building with finger foods!
- Feed their imagination - From sculpting ‘food faces’ on their plate, to making animal sounds, don’t be afraid to use food in creative ways to make mealtimes a lot more fun. Don't forget to have a camera nearby, there are bound to be many #iCandymoments worth capturing!
- Set the scene - Put a routine in place for mealtimes. Ensure your baby is well supported in a comfortable highchair; they shouldn’t be able to topple over or wobble around.
- Before Wiping - Encourage your little one to lick away any food from around their mouth. This is a good way to get your baby’s tongue and mouth working towards swallowing effectively and developing tongue and mouth muscles for talking.
- Eat Together - Sit with your baby at mealtimes and eat together. Let them share your plate and taste your food. Mealtimes are about being sociable, so talk to your baby about their food.
- Two Courses - Offer your baby both a savoury and sweet course. This is a great way to encourage your baby to try a wide range of tastes and textures, providing plenty of variety for your baby whilst keeping it interesting.
- Trust Mother Nature - The gag reflex is further forwards in babies mouth than in adults. If their food slips towards the back of their mouths they will cough it up. They will do this frequently while learning to eat solid foods.
- Lots of Veggies - Let baby enjoy the real taste of vegetables. Don’t mask challenging tastes with easier ones, let your baby enjoy the real taste of veggies without the sweetness of fruit, or they may find them difficult to accept later on. For example, don’t mix broccoli with apple purée.
- How Much - Let your baby decide when they’ve had enough, rather than encouraging them to clear their plates. You can offer an extra course of a yogurt or fruit-based pudding to get in a greater range of foods and nutrients.
- Don’t Give Up - Try, try and try again! It can take up to 14 attempts before a baby learns to like a new food, especially the more challenging ones, so don’t worry if your little one grimaces or refuses certain foods at first.