Feeding can be fun

Sou'wester and kagoul on? In the second part of a series we're introducing your baby to solid food. By Charlotte Preston and Trevor Dunton

Mealtimes can be a major cause of parental grief. Whereas sleep, or the lack of it, can be a problem for you, the concern around feeding is very much centred on your baby. Every parent worries whether their baby is eating the right stuff in the right quantity to be healthy and happy. We focus on making the transition from milk to solid food as smooth and stress-free as possible, and also on establishing healthy eating habits so that your baby develops an enquiring and open attitude towards food.

If your baby's first months require few dietary decisions, the introduction of "real" food at around four months brings many questions. What do you give him to eat? What will he like? Where do you stand on the sweets, chocolate and fizzy drinks issue? And how do you know when to start? A couple of clues to look out for are when your baby gets excited when you're eating and looks greedily at your dinner, and when feeds are becoming more frequent and he doesn't seem as satisfied.

Be prepared. During the third month kit yourself out with the basic weaning kit - industrial-size plastic bibs, plastic bowls and spoons and the life- saving blender. The Little Terror Good Feeding Guide gives step-by-step guidelines on weaning, what foods to give and how to adapt feeding habits for each phase of development. But whatever the phase, the following general principles apply.

1. Whether you're just about to start weaning or trying to introduce table manners to your toddler, the key is to be relaxed. If you can handle him in an unflustered, sensitive way when he's spitting out your lovingly prepared food, he's less likely to develop more serious eating problems. In practice this means:

praising good behaviour and ignoring bad - baby can quickly learn to manipulate mealtimes; trying to be patient if he dawdles, and not wearing designer clothes when feeding - assume you'll get pebble-dashed and dress accordingly.

2. Make mealtimes fun. If you're just in from work, feeding your baby may be the last thing you feel like doing, but mealtimes are great for getting to know each other. Even if you're eating later, join him with a cup of tea. He'll learn that mealtimes are special, something you do together.

3. Make sure he's not overtired. A sleepy child rarely has an appetite.

4. Making fresh nutritious food need not be a chore. First, keep it simple - you don't have to rival Marco Pierre White! Second, plan ahead - make extra and freeze ice-cube size portions. Also keep stocked up on healthy convenience foods eg bananas, avocados and milk.

5. Research has shown that babies are far more open to new tastes and flavours than was previously thought, but if offered only bland foods he will quickly become one of the turkey nugget brigade. Keep experimenting with new tastes, colours and textures.

6. What to give? Unlike adults and over-fives, babies need lots of calories and fats to help them grow and develop. Good examples are dairy produce, oily fish and avocados. You can start to reduce the fat content of your child's food after two years but he'll need full-fat milk up to the age of five.

7. The best drink is plain water. Fruit juice must be diluted 1:5 with water. Limit sweet drinks to special occasions rather than as a daily indulgence.

8. Most babies will need to snack between their three main meals. But go for healthy options such as fresh fruit, rice cakes, raw carrots or dried apricots.

Finally, if you're worried about over- or under-eating, check your baby's growth against the centile chart in your baby book. If he's overweight, check whether he's having too many milk feeds in addition to his meals. Granny might need to hold back on those daily doughnuts.

If you can introduce him to a rich and varied diet from the start, you'll be opening him up to one of life's greatest pleasures.

The Little Terror guides by Charlotte Preston and Trevor Dunton are published by Metro Books, price pounds 2.99

Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May

film

Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’

North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama

TV

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living