The twins are now up to Week 3 of their solids journey and are powering through their vege journey. So far we have had purple carrots, pumpkin, peas, spinach and pear all of which have been gobbled up quickly. The focus for me at this point in time is around veges and blander tastes primarily because nutritionally they have much to offer (the brighter the colour of the vegetable, the higher the nutrient content tends to be. The other thing on my mind is that baby’s have a natural preference for sweet tastes. Indeed breast milk itself is sweet. My observation is that if too many sweet tastes are offered early such as particularly sweet fruits, custards and yoghurts, small children will look for these flavours in place of the nutrient rich yet blander tasting meats and vegetables. For this reason I focus most of the twins foods around veges at this stage and when I do offer fruits, such as pear or banana I mix it with the vegetables.
While individual foods are encouraged to be the first offering to baby’s don’t be scared of mixing flavours once you have offered the first initial foods. This way baby’s get used to a range of flavours. Early and not used to just one food at a time. Some example of mixtures I use include pumpkin and pear; pumpkin and spinach, purple carrots and pear and avocado and carrots. Usually I pair one sweeter tasting vegetable with a more intense flavour such as spinach with pumpkin, or purple carrots and pear. One thing to be aware of, particularly for all the health nuts like me is that you do need to be careful of how much fibre you are offering small baby’s. Too much from fibre rich foods such as broccoli, cauliflower, avocado, apples and pears can give them excessive gas which can make nighttime’s very disruptive. For this reason just a tablespoon or two will be more than enough for young baby’s (5-7 months).
The other food I have started to focus on is lean meat. Of all the nutrients small baby’s need once they get to 6 months it is iron, and for meat eaters there is no richer source of iron than lean red meat. If your baby is eating vegetable purees, they are absolutely no reason why they cannot tolerate pureed meat. I simply get a fillet steak, cook it lightly and mix it with a vegetable at least 3 times a week. Small baby’s do not need a lot of meat but they do need a small amount (1-2 teaspoons) regularly to get much needed, well absorbed iron.
Finally, I have had a couple of questions about baby led weaning. I absolutely agree that the more exposure small children get to whole foods the better but the truth is that developmentally this approach is better suited to >8 months when baby’s can sit up and have the coordination to hold foods and bring them to the mouth. For this reason I will not adopt this approach until the twins are older and can sit up. For now it is about safe and controlled food exposures of a range of tastes and nutrient rich foods with the right textures. And next we move onto to fish and more mixed foods!