When you are introducing solids, you should make sure your baby is enjoying a balanced diet. While the majority of their nutrients will come from their milk during the early stages of weaning, as they progress through the weaning journey these milk feeds will decrease. It’s a good idea to base your baby’s new meals around starchy foods which help provide energy for a growing child. You will also need to ensure that your baby’s meals are rich in protein (which supplies the body with amino acids which are known as the body's building blocks) and iron (essential for growth and development).
One of the most common natural deficiencies is that of iron, which can affect growth and development. Babies are born with a store of iron, which lasts approximately 6 months, after which time they will need to get their iron supply from their diet. With a vegetarian diet, the source of iron must be obtained from pulses and vegetables such as peas, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. As long as there is no history of asthma, allergy, eczema or hay fever in the immediate family, smooth peanut butter can be introduced into the solid food diet from 6 months. Whole or chopped nuts should not be given to children under 5 years of age due to the risk of choking.
Calcium is essential for healthy teeth and bone development. You can include dairy products when preparing meals, such as cheese, yoghurts and fromage frais which are a rich source of calcium. You should not feed your baby cow’s milk before they are 1 year old, and babies under 2 should only be given whole milk, as reduced fat milk does not contain all the vitamins and fat required for a growing baby. There are also various minerals and vitamins required which can be obtained from fruit and vegetables.
Good sources of each of these food groups are as follows:
Fibre & Starchy Food
Protein & Iron
Lean red meat is a good source of iron and protein
Eggs (very well cooked until the yolk and white are hard)
Oily fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines are also excellent sources of iron and protein
Minerals and Vitamins
Many essential minerals and vitamins can be found commonly in fresh fruit and vegetables
Commonly found in carrots, avocados, spinach, dark leafy vegetables, kiwi, and prunes
Essential for vision
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Commonly found in mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, turnips, spinach, apples, prunes, and grapefruit.
Helps normal production of energy from food in the body
Commonly found in cabbage, prunes
Essential for a healthy immune system, healthy red blood cells
Commonly found in avocados, banana, green and red peppers, turnip, cabbage, kiwi, tomatoes, blackcurrants, strawberries
Essential for iron absorption and maintaining a healthy immune system
Currently, all babies in Ireland should be given a Vitamin D supplement containing 5ug daily until they are 12 months old
Commonly found in sweet potatoes, leafy vegetables, peas
Essential for healthy DNA
Commonly found in green vegetables, cauliflower
Essential for clotting blood
Commonly found in dark green leafy vegetables, root vegetables, dates
Essential for bones
Commonly found in avocados, celery, dates, apricots, raisins, green leafy vegetables
Essential for healthy growth of teeth and bones,and for blood clotting
Commonly found in mushrooms, carrots, squash
Essential for healthy teeth and bones
Commonly found in celery, mushrooms, grapes, oranges
Essential for a helathy thyroid
Commonly found in mushrooms, brussels sprouts, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, bananas, strawberries, oranges, dried fruits
Essential for healthy nerves and muscles
Commonly found in dark green vegetables and pineapple
Essential for muscle function
Commonly found in mushrooms
Essential for healthy immune system function
Ideal foods to begin with when you are starting to wean,include pureed vegetables or pureed fruit, or baby rice or cereal mixed with your baby’s usual milk.
Once your baby is used to the pureed food, you can start to introduce mashed foods that contain soft lumps, which your baby can chew on even without teeth.
You can also begin to introduce new textures such as blended mini dinners with fish, meat or chicken included (making sure that everything is cooked through and that any bones are removed). This gives you the opportunity to try out some new tastes by using stronger vegetables in your mini blended dinners such as spinach and cabbage. For more recipe ideas why not visit our recipe section
Although you are still feeding your baby milk at this time, you can also introduce a beaker. You can give your baby fruit or vegetable juice but you should only offer at mealtimes (to help protect baby’s emerging teeth). Make sure it is diluted well, using at least one part juice to ten parts water.