My thoughts on weaning babies and feeding our children healthy food.

Hello!  I'm new to blogging but I want to share a few thoughts with you on childrens' food and weaning.

Getting toddlers and children to eat healthily can be every parents worst nightmare.  All children go through 'stages'.  My children have been through various cycles of will eat/won't eat but perseverence and some gentle coaxing have got us through these stages!

I believe that part of the battle is won from weaning and during that first crucial year.  If we use 'building blocks' of tastes, this is a great start.  To begin with, simple tastes and textures but by 8 months we can start adding ingredients that tantalise their palates and give a bit more complexity to foods. By 12 months, I believe children should be eating a wide variety of meals, meals that are suitable for the whole family.  This not only reinforces family meal times, it is much easier for the busy parents of today to prepare one meal instead of two.

Whether you follow baby led weaning or a more traditional spoon fed approach, my approach would be the same, step away from the norm occasionally to try out new flavours on your child.  Adhere to the well researched 'do's and don'ts' but as long as it is safe for your child, try them with it. On average, it takes between 10-15 times to establish whether or not your baby likes a food.  Babies like to smell/taste/hold food in a bid to get used to it.  Spend some time with your baby, don't rush meal times.  I know that is easier said than done with our busy lives but it is an investment which will pay off in the future when you're enjoying family meals together.

Take a look at this brilliant website/guide to weaning:

http://www.nhs.uk/start4life/Pages/babies-food-variety.aspx

I realised for a while that with my first born (now aged 5), I was probably assuming what she would and wouldn't like and not trying them out.  I haven't done this with my second child (just 2).  My childrens' favourite foods even include Olives, even (mildly) spiced olives.  Not something I would have initially associated with children but I now realise lots of children love them!  Whilst they are a little bit salty, most people grossly overexaggerate this, did you know that a bowl of cornflakes contains more salt than five medium sized black olives?

I am certainly not advocating the use of excessive salt, far from it.  I am advocating a balanced, healthy diet, but we do need some salt in our diets, there are a number of places you can look for advice, I quite like this for a simple guide:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/treatments/healthy_living/nutrition/healthy_salt.shtml

Whilst all of these websites and guidelines are great in theory, I am a parent myself and I know how stressful weaning can be, trying to adhere to the do's and don'ts, particularly first time around.  That dreaded first time that your 10 month old gags on a bit of toast or piece of pasta.  No one can say this is not stressful!  Or the time when you've spent hours steaming veg, peeling, chopping and sieving all the lumps and bumps out of the food for your little one, only to have them spit it out in utter disgust!  Don't dispair, it's part of the weaning process.

I remember one day in particular when I had spent an entire morning making dinner for my husband that night, lunch for four 4 year olds and texturised purees for my then 9 month old.  Welcoming a fellow mum for lunch, we then sat down to to give our little cherubs their purees.  After the 10th time of picking up the spoons off the floor, wiping down the 'spills', picking the upturned bowl of the floor for the 10th time, I felt a bit stressed.  This is when my friend pointed out that this particular episode was due to 'object permanence'.  mmmm, I thought, 'object permanence', really?  Well yes, it turns out it was, babies have to 'learn' that something continues to exist even when it cannot be seen, heard, or touched.

Is it any wonder that we busy parents and carers feel stressed by meal times?

I have spent a lot of time devising recipes and meals.  This time has been worth it as my children eat virtually anything and have strong appetites.  I am by no means saying this has been easy but I've persisted and feel like I'm winning this long, never ending battle! I am putting this experience into my own range of children/babies food and really hope that this offers a healthy, helpful, tasty alternative for busy parents who don't have time to home cook every single meal.