Relax, it's only food

There is no need to stress. The more you stress, the more your baby will get stressed, and this will not lead you anywhere good. Never be tempted to force food into your baby's mouth. It may seem like the last viable option, but it isn't. It is better for your baby to be happy and not eat her dinner than cry over food, making meal times something she hates. Nothing will happen if she doesn't eat the dinner you spend an hour cooking. If she gets hungry, she might go for it later. In the beginning of weaning babies learn about food more than anything else. By trusting your baby’s instincts, you will let her learn to make her own choices encouraging independence. Take a deep breath, you are doing fine.

Kids are humans too

Think about it, what do you feel like eating right now? Maybe you just feel like having a light salad. Maybe you just want to have a drink? What if someone tried to feed you sausage and mash and some other stuff? Not your first choice, but you have to eat it... This is how your baby will feel sometimes too. Maybe she just wants to eat fruits today. Maybe this delicious fish pie you made today will go down better tomorrow. Sometimes you are hungrier, sometimes you don't feel like eating at all. Babies are humans too, they have their moods and that's ok. This does not mean that they are fussy. As long as they are willing to try new foods, and they always are – it’s fun, it is all good. We tend to forget that babies are just little humans who are vulnerable and so innocent, that they are their own little persons who need to learn and find out for themselves what they like and what they don’t like. You just need to give your baby a chance to do that.

Babies don't need baby food

They really don't. When I say baby food, I mean the smooth unidentifiable mush and the ready meals in jars. There are quite a few problems with it. Firstly, babies learn to swallow before they learn to chew, quite the opposite of what you do when you eat. When you feed them, you take away their independence and the fun of learning. Also, they cannot taste what they eat. All jarred baby food, but also home made mush, tastes almost the same, with potato, carrot and sweet potato being the main ingredient, making everything taste sweet. You may be including all sorts of different ingredients, but they cannot taste anything individually, so they may be getting all the nutrition, but once you take away the carrot and other sweet stuff, they may no longer like spinach. Thirdly, if you follow the current weaning advice, you will know that you should only introduce solid food from six months old. Mushed baby food was designed for younger babies, about 4 months old. If you wait until they are 6 months old, and you should wait, they can deal with actual solid food, like boiled carrots, broccoli, normal size pasta, banana etc. If you give them solid foods from the start, and allow them to feed themselves, they will very quickly develop hand eye coordination and start eating proper family food.

Different tastes, textures and colours are important. Yes, it is easier to cook a larger amount of food for two days, but it's just not that exciting. Kids learn by eating and playing with food. What you also need to understand is that babies may not like certain textures, which doesn't mean that they don't like the food itself. To give you an example, at the moment my baby doesn't like single grains of rice, or grated cheese, or any loose small food, like perfectly fluffy couscous. I don't think she knows how to deal with it. At the same time, she loves rice if it is in bigger lumps, slightly overcooked or mixed with dal, when the grains are stuck together. She also loves cheese if it is just sliced. So don't give up the first time round, try different ways of cooking and different textures to see what your baby likes. Even if they prefer certain tastes to others, it is your job to introduce them to all the different foods, even if you don’t like them yourself. Give your baby a chance to decide for herself.

Variety is key

Make sure that you eat as a family. It may not always be possible, but this something you should be aiming for. Your baby needs to see that you are all eating the same food and you are enjoying it. Babies copy their parents in everything they do and eating is no exception. You will also find that to your baby food tastes much better from your plate, so don't miss that opportunity and let her try it. Don't eat or drink fizzy drinks, sweets, crisps or any other food you don't want your baby to eat in front of her, eat it when she is asleep if you have to. If she sees it, she will want it. If she doesn't see it, she will not know any different. The only reason why some babies like to eat chocolate or chips or will only drink juice and not water is because someone gave it to them and they liked it. If you decided that you don’t want that to happen, make sure you stick to your guns, don’t let anyone else (grandparents) feed them what you don’t want your baby to eat.

Set good example