From the moment your child is born one simple question imposes itself: will your baby be nursed, or fed by the bottle? Already, parents are confronted with a question that unfortunately comes with diverging opinions.
And what about after that, when your baby grows and milk is no longer enough to keep them healthy? It’s time to think about introducing other food into their routine. But how? What? And when?
Even though each child is different, people generally start feeding their child at about six months old. If you’re in doubt, don’t hesitate to consult a health professional, and to put some trust in yourself. You know your child better than anyone else. Everyone knows that children aren’t born with instruction manuals (how much simpler would it be if that were the case!).
There are two ways to offer food to a young child: puree or baby led weaning (BLW). No need to describe a puree, it’s quite clearly a piece of food that’s been boiled and reduced into a semi-liquid form. Personally, my children started eating at different ages, and, more than anything, in different ways.
My daughter, who was born prematurely, started eating towards the age of 8 months old. She never appreciated purees: the texture made her feel sick. Thus, we opted for BLW, which consists of your child autonomous feeding themselves small pieces of well-cooked (soft) food. This way of doing things also suited our daughter, who got to experiment with diverse textures, all while maintaining control over what entered her mouth.
My son started eating around the age of 6 months old. Immediately he loved purees, and he long preferred them to the option of eating on his own… What I appreciated the most with purees is the option to add spices and wake his senses up a little, something I wasn’t able to do with BLW.
Spices in purees? Absolutely! Of course, I’m not talking about salt and pepper. You should also go at it gradually and parsimoniously. That said, you will be surprised at how much the baby appreciates it. Let’s not kid ourselves, boiled broccoli morning, noon, and night can get tiring quickly. Because of this, what we can do is add a bit of cinnamon to his applesauce, or some tumeric to his squash puree. Cumin works well with carrots and with the famous boiled broccoli. Finally, vanilla can up the flavor on nearly anything sweet. The internet is full of recipes, each one more interesting than the last. You’ll want a taste yourself!
But what about allergies? It’s a worry for many parents. According to recent findings, it isn’t the case that waiting until later to give your child allergenic foods reduces the risk of reaction. I introduced allergenic foods pretty early into my childrens’ diets, albeit slowly, in small quantities, to make sure I could manage any anomaly.
The worst, I would say, is when your child refuses to eat the incredible dish you just put your time and love into. Whether they’re six months old or six years old, your disappointment (or, often, frustration) will be the same. Be patient: their pallets will develop. It can even happen that your baby will love broccoli one week and refuse to eat it the next week. Don’t bother insisting. What I do is take a pause for a couple of weeks, and try it on them again.
Now, are there interesting tools and products you can use to help your child start eating? My first thought is to get bowls and plates that can be attached to your table. Definitely a must! The number of messes you’ll avoid is impressive! I also prefer small plastic spoons over conventional ones. They don’t get too hot (some change color when this happens) and are softer on your baby’s mouth. For purees, you can find small culinary robots. Some even double as pressure cookers which means less dishes to deal with afterwards. They can also often unfreeze and heat up foods too. What more to ask for? Something else that I appreciated quite a bit: small silicone pacifiers that offer room to slide a piece of food into. This allows your child to eat something while mom enjoys a few moments of calm.
The world of food is a world of incredible discoveries for your baby. It’s also only the beginning of a series of nice dinners with the family. Bon appetit!