Weaning is an important stage in your child's development, and marks the changeover from milk to food as the baby’s main source of nutrition.
While some mums start weaning their child earlier, official guidelines advise waiting until your baby is six months old. This ensures that their digestive system has time to mature and provide protection against food allergies developing.
In honour of National Weaning Week, we asked nutritionist Fiona Faulkner to provide some top baby food and weaning recipes to celebrate this exciting new stage in your little one’s development. Check them out here, along with some of Fiona's top tips for introducing food into your baby's diet.
Fiona's 6 top tips for weaning
1. "Babies are sensitive to the temperature of food so test a little on the inside of your wrist – it should be no hotter than lukewarm."
2. "Many recipes can be frozen in little portions – use small pots or an ice cube tray. Before serving, thaw, heat to piping hot, then allow to cool again."
3. "Babies learn about food when they squish and squash it, so don’t tell them off for playing with their dinner!"
4. "Don’t add salt or sugar when making baby food. Honey should also be avoided until your tot is at least one year old, due to bacteria that’s occasionally present in it."
5. "After your baby’s first birthday, you can replace formula or breast milk with cow’s milk – but you can breastfeed for as long as you want."
6. "Don’t feel guilty for using baby food from a jar. You can’t be Supermum all the time!"
Introduce at 6 months
Cooked squash is easy for most babies to digest, plus it’s a good source of vitamins C and E. Feed this tasty smoothie to your tot with a spoon.
Makes: 4-6 servings
Ready in: 45 mins
- 1 small butternut squash (this recipe is delicious made with pumpkin, too)
- 2 large, ripe bananas, peeled and chopped
- 350ml fresh juice of your choice (pressed apple juice works especially well)
1. To save time and effort on preparation, bake the squash unpeeled in your oven, exactly as you would a jacket potato. After about 40 mins, check it’s done by inserting a sharp knife into each end in turn. If it goes in easily, the squash is cooked.
2. Allow to cool before slicing in half lengthways and removing the inner orange flesh – make sure to discard all the skin as well as the seeds and white pith.
3. Once cooled, weigh out 200g (eat any leftovers or use for soup). Whizz in a blender with the bananas and the juice until smooth, then serve immediately. Store leftovers in the fridge, covered, for up to 3 days (the banana may go a bit brown), or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Top tip: Thicken the smoothie with a handful of fine milled oats or baby rice.
Pictured, clockwise from top: pink porridge, Popeye's green dip, butternut smoothie.
Packed with juicy berry fruits, this colourful recipe makes a great baby breakfast.
Makes: 4-6 servings
Ready in: 10 mins
- 1 apple
- 50g porridge oats
- 25g raspberries
- 25g blueberries
- 25g strawberries, hulled and chopped
- 125ml your baby's usual milk
1. Chop the apple into small pieces. Peel it or leave the skin on for more fibre, but remove the core and pips.
2. Put in a medium nonstick saucepan with all the berries and oats, plus 100ml milk.
3. Heat on low, stirring and squishing the fruit until the apple is soft.
4. Add the rest of the milk to help the porridge loosen and cool, then serve when it reaches room temperature.
Top tip: This recipe works with any milk, including almond, soya or formula, provided your baby has no intolerances.
Beet and sweet potato mash
This simple dish can be made without a blender. A source of fibre and folic acid, this baby food also contains beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body.
Makes: 2-4 servings
Ready in: 20 mins
1. Peel and chop the beetroot and sweet potato and peel, core and chop the apple. Steam the veg until just tender. Add the apple, cook for another 5 mins, then allow to cool to room temperature.
2. Mash the mixture together with the milk until smooth, then serve. Store leftovers in an airtight pot or covered with clingfilm for up to 3 days.
Top tip: Beetroot may give your baby’s wee a pink tinge. Don’t panic if you notice this, it’s harmless!
INTRODUCE BETWEEN 7-9 MONTHS
Parsnip, pear & blueberry muddle
Perfect when your little one begins to explore new flavours, this provides fibre.
Makes: 1-2 servings
Ready in: 8 mins
1. Put all the ingredients, plus 1tbsp water in a small nonstick saucepan. Cook, covered, on a low heat for about 5 mins until the parsnip and pear are tender.
2. Allow to cool, then purée with a handheld blender until smooth. You can store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days, in an airtight pot or covered with clingfilm, or freeze for up to 3 months.
Top tip: Parsnip has a strong, distinctive taste so introduce it gently by combining it with fruit.
Clockwise from top: beet and sweet potato mash, parsnip, pear & blueberry muddle, pea & mint purée.
Pea & mint purée
Help your baby develop a taste for fresh herbs with this creamy dip – the cheese supplies protein.
Makes: 4 servings
Ready in: 5 mins
1. Put the peas in a heatproof dish. Pour on boiling water, leave for 2 mins, drain and put in a processor. (Or a bowl if using a handheld blender.)
2. Add the cream cheese and mint, then whizz for a few seconds until combined.
3. Serve, or cover and store in the fridge for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.
Top tip: Replace the cream cheese with Greek yogurt, if you prefer, and add a squeeze of lime for extra flavour.
Popeye's green dip
Get your tot into greens with this pesto-inspired recipe. Spinach contains iron and tryptophan – an essential amino acid needed for growth.
Makes: 4-6 servings
Ready in: 5 mins
- 100g frozen peas
- 100g spinach
- 15g fresh basil
- 50g Parmesan, grated
- 2tbsp lemon juice
- 4tbsp olive oil
1. Put the peas in a heatproof dish and pour on boiling water. Leave for 2 mins. Drain and rinse with cold water.
2. Put the peas and the other ingredients in a processor and whizz until smooth. (Or use a handheld blender.)
3. Serve immediately – or cover and store in the fridge for up to 3 days. Or freeze for up to 3 months – to reuse, thaw and allow to reach room temperature before serving.
Top tip: Serve this blend on its own, or as a dip to babies over 7 months with finger food.