Your little one is ready to move on from baby food, so what do you need to know about feeding her family foods?
Are you bored of batch cooking baby recipes yet? With your little one’s first birthday on the horizon, now is the time to stop pureeing if you haven’t already and move her on from mush to proper family meals. By this age, your baby is likely to have a few teeth and be getting to grips with chewing and swallowing, as well as becoming interested in a wider range of new tastes, which means that she’s able to tuck into most of the same meals as the rest of the family.
So what family foods are suitable for your baby? Well, there are few cast-iron rules. From 12 months, almost all foods are safe for little ones. Sometimes, a few modifications are needed – added salt, for example, is still off-limits because of the potential for harming her kidneys. But generally, the vast majority of family recipes can be served to your baby, and you may be surprised by what she enjoys: mild curry and chilli often go down well, for example.
With your little one now sharing many of your meals, it makes sense to share mealtimes too. Children who eat with their families tend to grow up eating a broader and healthier range of food, and when she watches you eat, she’s also learning table manners and independent eating skills by imitation. Okay, so you might not want to book that table at The Ivy yet, but the sooner your baby gets used to participating in family meals, the better: you’ll be raising a confident and enthusiastic eater and helping to ward off fussiness.
Now is a good time to pack away the highchair and buy a booster seat that fits onto your normal dining chairs so your baby can join you at the table.
While most foods are now safe for your baby to eat, some should still be avoided. Honey, for example, shouldn’t be introduced until after her first baby, and whole nuts can pose a choking hazard and shouldn’t be given to children under five. Processed adult foods such as cooking sauces, pizzas and crisps can also be very high in salt, so if you’re sharing family meals with your baby, try to cook from scratch rather than relying on ready-made convenience foods.
And don’t forget about food safety and hygiene when you’re cooking for your little one. Many of us are somewhat slack in the kitchen and will slice bread on the board that’s just been used for chopping meat without a second thought, but babies are more prone than adults to stomach upsets, so it’s important to do your best to keep germs out of the kitchen. Around about now, you can also stop sterilising, but always ensure that feeding bottles, cups and other equipment are washed in hot soapy water or the dishwasher to keep bugs at bay.
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