Weaning your baby onto solid foods is often a confusing and stressful time for many parents. While there is seemingly endless advice on what to feed your little one and what’s right or wrong in weaning, there is little advice on how and why it’s important to make weaning fun for baby and parents.
Ella’s Kitchen, a UK based 100 per cent organic baby food company, is regarded as a leading expert on weaning. Paul Lindley, Ella’s Dad and founder of Ella’s Kitchen, believes learning what makes baby more responsive to good food is vital, as children’s first experiences of food play an important part in shaping their eating habits. Paul also believes that babies need the right fuel for healthy growth and development.
With this in mind, Paul and his team at Ella’s Kitchen developed a new approach to weaning, focusing on how to develop baby’s enjoyment of different foods. “At Ella’s Kitchen we encourage little ones to interact with different fruits and vegetables outside mealtimes in a play environment. And we don’t just focus on one sense: taste. We engage all five senses in creative, fun ways, which in turn makes them more likely to try new foods at mealtimes,” said Paul.
Knowing when to start weaning your child on to new foods is very individual, as there is no specific right or wrong age. But there are signs to look out for; when baby can sit up on their own, or reach for food that others are eating and when they want to put anything they can get a hold of in their mouth. These are good indicators that they are ready to move onto solid foods.
To set parents and their little ones on their exciting tiny taste bud journey, Ella’s Kitchen shares some top tips to making mealtimes fun.
Top tips to get little ones started on their tiny tastebud journey:
- Playing with food. Encourage your baby to get involved and have fun exploring and touching the food. You can do this too! Soon they will enjoy feeding themselves with those tiny fingers.
- Wakey wakey! Choose mealtimes when your baby is alert and relaxed, so they are conscious of the foods they are eating.
- Sit up nicely like a good big-little-person. Encourage your baby to sit up and face you, to make it easier for them to learn their new trick of moving solid food from the front to the back of their tongue and to swallow it all up.
- One at a time! When first starting out, introduce one taste at a time. This helps you know what your baby likes best and to discover any adverse reactions, such as allergies or intolerances. Watch fruits like strawberries and kiwis as these often cause allergies and are best offered to baby when they are a bit older.
- Baby knows best. As unlikely as it seems, most babies know when they’ve had enough to eat. If your baby doesn’t seem to want to eat any more, try again later.
- Copycats! Let your baby join in at family mealtimes – they will learn by watching others.
- Mummy+Daddy cool. Don’t worry at this stage if more food ends up on the floor than in your baby’s tummy. Mealtimes should always be relaxed and, most of all, lots of fun.