Baby is growing up and starting to watch you eat and even take the spoon in your hand. Your little one may be ready to become a foodie! Beginning food diversification is an important step in the life of toddlers, and that of their parents! It’s a trip to the land of taste, flavours, gourmet smells and varied textures. In short, all the senses are awakened! But in practice, how does it work?
The ideal time to start
Between 4 and 6 months. This is indeed the age group recommended by health professionals to start. Of course, breast or infant milk remains the main food, at least until the child is 6 months old.
However, as with all learning, whether walking or language, each child is different and progresses at their own pace. The main thing is to introduce him to a wide range of different foods during this sensitive period.
We will start with a small teaspoon of food, then two, etc. Don’t forget that in this adventure, everything is new for him: the spoon, the texture, the smell, etc. Above all, if he pouts at his mashed carrots, there’s no point in forcing him. He may not be ready yet or he just doesn’t like what he is eating. You’ll try your luck again next time! Take the time to observe your baby’s reactions and arm yourself with patience (and a bit of creativity too, it can help!).
The cheeky note:
You will certainly notice a change in the side of your baby’s stool. This is perfectly normal. Until now, he was used to drinking only milk; the introduction of new foods affects his digestion and consequently the colour, appearance… and smell of his stools.
Composing baby’s first meals
Only vegetables to start with?
In 2022, new recommendations were published. These specify that all food families can be offered between 4 and 6 months of age, in addition to breast or infant milk, which remains the mainstay of their diet, with on-demand feedings or milk bottles. at least 500 ml per day.
You can give him a taste of these well-cooked and mixed foods:
- fruits ;
- meat (avoid charcuterie);
- fish (some are to be avoided such as tuna, sea bream, swordfish, etc.);
- eggs (boiled only);
- starchy foods…
The golden rule? Go gradually. Stick to one food at a time for the first few weeks to allow the child to better identify the different flavours. Then, place the mixture! Peas and carrots with thyme, spinach and potatoes… Let yourself be guided by your inspiration of the day!
What about foods known to be allergenic – eggs, exotic fruits, oilseeds, to name a few? Several epidemiological studies have shown that “the introduction of new foods from the 17th week of life does not promote allergy, on the contrary, it promotes tolerance”*. In any case, do not hesitate to discuss it with your paediatrician who will provide you with informed advice adapted to your child.
The cheeky info:
Between 6 and 8 months, it is possible to give your toddler ¼ egg or 10 g maximum of meat/fish. No more! Also, note that honey is to be avoided before 12 months (risk of botulism).
A point on the textures
Between 4 months and 1 year, the taste buds of your “gourmet” see all the flavours! What an incredible learning experience!
If for the beginning we limit ourselves to smooth purees, from 6 months, make way for new textures! It is also an opportunity for him to touch, crush, seize the food with his fingertips, and put it in his mouth… A pure moment of joy and fun in perspective!
As a reminder:
- between 4 and 6 months, a very smooth purée;
- between 6 and 8 months, a more lumpy consistency;
- From 8 months, the baby takes 2 varied meals a day. Fondant pieces invite themselves onto the plate (cooked pasta shells or mashed banana, for example);
- from 10 months, you can give him pieces to chew (raw vegetables, small pieces of meat, etc.).
Be careful, small hard foods (hazelnuts, peanuts, etc.) can cause a false path and should only be given as they are. from 5 years old. Before, it was in powder or puree only!
The cheeky info;
Some parents opt for child-led dietary diversity or DME. It is possible around 6 months of age. In this method, the stage of smooth purees is not presented, the child starts his taste journey directly with pieces. If this approach interests you, we advise you to discuss it beforehand with your paediatrician so that he can tell you the procedure to follow.
Cooking with small onions
Don’t take all your pots and pans out of the cupboard! A simple steamer or a baby food processor will be more than enough. Cooking with steam or water is preferable because it allows you to preserve a maximum of nutrients.
As for seasoning, if the addition of salt/sugar is to be avoided, it is possible to incorporate aromatic herbs (herbes de Provence, thyme, etc.) or spices (cumin, vanilla, cinnamon, etc.) into your preparations. ).
Finally, remember to add a spoonful of high-quality vegetable oil, preferably organic (olive, flax, rapeseed, a mixture of oils, etc.) or possibly a knob of fresh butter, to your purées. Fatty acids are indeed essential for babies! These contribute to the excellent development of the child and in particular that of his brain!
Favour homemade and local
To make your homemade preparations, favour local vegetables (or those from your vegetable garden!), Seasonal and if possible from organic farming. In any case, it is important to wash them well before cooking them. Frozen vegetables can also be an interesting alternative and time saver in the kitchen!
We also know that the life of a cheeky parent is not easy. So, sometimes, the small pot box of the trade can be very useful. There are now several brands that promote local production, short circuit and seasonal ingredients. Take care to read the labels and the composition mentioned therein to make an informed choice.
The essential accessories to start food diversification
To ensure that this trip to the land of taste takes place in the best possible conditions, here is a small “boarding” checklist:
- a self-fixing plate, preferably, to avoid mashed potatoes flying over the dining room floor!
- bibs, lots of bibs! Build up a good stock, because they will quickly end up in the washing machine much faster than you think;
- small flexible silicone spoons;
- an ice cube tray to keep portions of compote or mashed potatoes that you have prepared;
- a blender-cooker robot: home-cooked meals, sweet and savoury, in two to three movements;
- an oilcloth, to put on the floor, under the high chair! You’ll see, it’s a smart purchase you won’t regret!