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
Matthew Healy of The 1975 performing on the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival, at Worthy Farm in Somerset

music
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe Withnail and I creator, has a new theory about killer's identity
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tvDick Clement and Ian La Frenais are back for the first time in a decade
Arts and Entertainment
The Clangers: 1969-1974
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Rocky road: Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino play an estranged husband and wife in 'San Andreas'
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Nicole Kidman plays Grace Kelly in the film, which was criticised by Monaco’s royal family

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emilia Clarke could have been Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey but passed it up because of the nude scenes

film
Arts and Entertainment
A$AP Rocky and Rita Ora pictured together in 2012

music
Arts and Entertainment
A case for Mulder and Scully? David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in ‘The X-Files’

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Impressions of the Creative Community Courtyard within d3. The development is designed to 'inspire emerging designers and artists, and attract visitors'

architecture
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
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.

    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific