Baby-led weaning? Spoon-fed weaning? Which foods should you try first? How much milk do you give alongside foods? There are so many choices and decisions to be made around weaning, but however you choose to introduce new foods to your baby, you needn’t worry that it won’t be fun!
Weaning can be a huge new language opportunity as well as a new way to have some happy shared experiences with your baby.
Read below for some tips on how to have fun, provide exploratory opportunities and a rich environment for your child during weaning.
This really is as simple as it sounds. As you introduce new foods to your baby, show them the food and label it! “Avocado!” “Banana!” Give them time to look at it, inspect it and explore how it feels before trying it; you can support this by expanding further “A yellow banana!” or “A squashy avocado!”.
The language of choice
“Would you like the green apple or the red strawberry?” Ask the question as you are offering your baby the foods and you will find they will begin to make choices. You then reflect this back “You chose the red strawberry! Yummy”. This not only helps introduce new language but also gives your baby a voice within their weaning process.
Put mashed fruits or cooked pasta or another kind of squishy interesting food on a tray, strip your baby down to their nappy and allow them to get stuck in and explore. Not only is it a lovely sensory experience, but you can also narrate their play and describe what they are feeling. “You’ve picked up the pasta! Pasta feels squishy!” This will encourage their naturally curious exploratory behaviour, give them opportunities to form a positive relationship with food and introduce new vocabulary. Plus it’s a lot of fun!
Reinforce what your baby has learnt when you are food shopping. “I can see some bread!” “I can see some apples!” “I can see some rice!” Remember repetition of language in a variety of contexts helps your baby’s understanding and they may understand new words and food names long before they are able to say them.
Find more weaning advice on the Start for Life website.