After those first few weeks of weaning, and certainly by 7 months, your baby’s growing nutritional needs are really important. By 7 months your baby is likely to be eating three small meals a day, alongside their usual milk. Offer water with (but not before) every meal. Water for babies over 6 months doesn’t need to be boiled, it can be given straight from the tap.
Your quick guide to nutrient-dense foods:
Fruits & vegetables
The abundance of veggies and fruit you’ve always offered should remain in your baby’s diet. From broccoli to sweet potato, strawberries to bananas, these are packed with nutrition and also fibre for your baby. Plus, certain fruits and veggies provide an important source of vitamin C which helps with the absorption of iron.
Iron is important for your baby’s brain development, especially from 6 months when the iron inherited from mum starts to run low. Red meat is the best and most easily absorbed source. Red meat and poultry also double up as great sources of protein. A little tip – don’t discard the darker brown meat on chicken and turkey as this is the most nutritious part. Instead, give your baby both the white and brown meat.
For vegetarian babies, sources of iron for your baby include beans and pulses such as lentils and chickpeas, dark-green vegetables such as broccoli and spinach and fortified breakfast cereals.
Fish is a brilliant source of growth-boosting protein and is rich in vitamins and minerals. White fish such as plaice, cod, haddock and sole are good first fish to offer as they have a mild flavour. Oily fish like salmon contains high levels of the omega 3 essential fatty acids that are linked with brain development so aim to include two portions of oily fish like salmon, sardines and mackerel into your baby’s diet every week, just no more for girl babies (boy babies can have up to four portions).
Eggs are great to include in your baby’s diet from the very start of weaning as they are full of nutrients including high quality protein and many of the vitamins and minerals essential for your baby’s growth, including folate, vitamin D, iodine, selenium, choline and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. There are also so many ways to cook eggs. Plus, back in 2017, the Food Standards Agency confirmed that British Lion eggs can safely be eaten runny by babies from six months, so dippy eggs are a strong yes for spoon-fed and baby-led weaners alike.
Milk and dairy products such as full fat natural yoghurt and cheese are an important part of a baby’s diet and by 7 months, aim for two to three servings a day. They’re a good source of energy and protein, and contain a wide range of vitamins and minerals, including calcium that babies need to build healthy bones and teeth.
When you’re choosing dairy products, always opt for full fat as low-fat products sometimes contain added sugar and salt. Plus, fat is essential for your baby’s overall development.
Cow’s milk can be used in cooking from six months (for example in a cheese sauce or in cereal or porridge), but it shouldn’t be your baby’s main drink before twelve months; they need breast milk or formula until one year of age.
Grains such as rice, wheat, oats and quinoa are all suitable and you should offer your baby a mixture of both white and wholegrain versions. Although wholegrain is a fantastic source of fibre, too much fibre can be a little too bulky and filling for babies so offer a mixture.
Beans & pulses
Beans and pulses are also very good sources of protein, iron and fibre, and the type of fibre which is good for your baby’s bowels and heart, so worth including from seven months.
The main and most simple way of approaching your baby’s first foods is to try and offer as much variety as possible from the get go. This way you will be on the right track to getting lots of different (and essential) nutrients into their diet to help fuel their development.
When it comes to adding more texture to your baby’s meals my advice is to take a gradual but swift approach. If you go from offering a puree-like consistency to straight up mashing, chances are your baby will find this too much of a big step. Instead, at first make a slightly thicker, less blended version, and then once they have got used to this, try mashing whilst ensuring the food is still fairly chunk-free. This gradual increase in texture will encourage your baby to adopt a more lateral tongue movement, which is another key learning step in mastering the art of eating. You can then start to let them explore the likes of rice, couscous, bulgur wheat and mini baby pasta shapes.