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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Ed Stoppard as Brian Epstein, Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Elliott Cowan as George Martin in 'Cilla'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Thomas Pynchon in 1955, left, and Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix in Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of his novel, Inherent Vice

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Nicole Scherzinger will join the cast of Cats

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Fans were left surprised by the death on Sunday night's season 26 premiere

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lady Mary goes hunting with suitor Lord Gillingham

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck, finds himself at the centre of a media storm when his wife is reported missing and assumed dead

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lindsay Lohan made her West End debut earlier this week in 'Speed-the-Plow'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Artist Nathan Sawaya stands with his sculpture 'Yellow' at the Art of Brick Exhibition

art
Arts and Entertainment
'Strictly Come Dancing' attracted 6.53 million viewers on Friday
tv
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant plays Detective Emmett Carver in the US version on Broadchurch

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor goes undercover at Coal Hill School in 'The Caretaker'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ni , Rock of Rah, Vanuatu: The Ni live on one of the smallest islands of Vanuatu; Nelson flew five hours from Sydney to capture the 'isolation forged by their remoteness'
photographyJimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style
Arts and Entertainment
David Byrne
musicDavid Byrne describes how the notorious First Lady's high life dazzled him out of a career low
Arts and Entertainment
Sergeant pfeffer: Beatles in 1963
booksA song-by-song survey of the Beatles’ lyrics
Arts and Entertainment
music'I didn't even know who I was'
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl was left in a conundrum with too much talent and too few seats during the six-chair challenge stage
tvReview: It was tension central at boot camp as the ex-Girls Aloud singer whittled down the hopefuls
Arts and Entertainment
Kalen Hollomon's Anna Wintour collage

art
Arts and Entertainment

TV Grace Dent on TV
Arts and Entertainment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

music
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.

    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
    Why do we like making lists?

    Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

    Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
    Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

    A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

    As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
    Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

    Paris Fashion Week

    Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
    Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

    Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

    One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
    10 best children's nightwear

    10 best children's nightwear

    Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
    Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

    Manchester City vs Roma

    Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
    Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

    Trouble on the Tyne

    Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?