The latest in our series of baby expert Twitter chats featured weaning expert Annabel Karmel, who took on dozens of your feeding questions, ranging from lunch-packing tips to tricking fussy babies.
One mum, @CarlysMummy, asked Annabel for the best fruit and veg to begin weaning with. Annabel replied: ‘Root veg like carrot, sweet potato are best.’ After another mum suggested butternut squash, Annabel shared her tip on getting around the tedious peeling involved in serving this veggie: ‘Cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and bake in the oven so the skin comes away easily.’ As for fruit, Annabel advised: ‘Apple, pear and banana are good first fruits as these are unlikely to cause an allergy.’
Speaking of allergies, @_JensTweet_ told Annabel how her little girl was developing a mysterious face rash for 40 minutes after eating various foods. ‘Keep a food diary to see what specific foods are causing the rash,’ Annabel recommended. ‘She might need an allergy test from your GP.’
Lots of mums of fussy babies contacted Annabel, who doled out top tips such as combining foods your baby likes with ones that they don’t. This technique could help get your baby to try foods they previously refused. ‘My son didn’t like chicken,’ explained Annabel, ‘but he loved chicken and apple!’
She recommended a similar mixing technique to a mum whose purée-loving little one was being stubborn about trying foods of different textures. ‘Adding tiny pasta shapes to their purées is a good idea,’ she said, also suggesting: ‘puréeing half and smashing half to give more textures to her favourite meals.’
Exasperated mum Ellie wrote in via email about her seven-month-old, who insists on blowing raspberries into her purées and throwing finger foods on the floor. She asked Annabel: ‘Should I cut her milk to make her hungry so she eats more?’
‘I wouldn’t,’ Annabel replied. ‘It’s still an important part of her diet until she is a year old. Sometimes it takes babies longer to get used to the experience of chewing and swallowing food. ‘Try steamed vegetables, finger sized chunks she can hold. For purées, try putting her favourite on your clean finger and letting her lick it off.’
More concerning for mums than a fussy or hard-to-wean baby is the one on hunger strike! Annabel gave emailer Lisa May a tactic to try. ‘Keep offering them a selection of different foods, but don’t force it. Take it away if they aren’t interested and try again at a later date.’
And what about quantity? @charliechinuk asked ‘Am I right in thinking you can’t overfeed a baby?’ Annabel explained that your baby will generally know when to stop, but ‘if your baby is above the max weight on the centile chart, you should seek expert advice on their diet.’
On the other hand, Annabel said when it comes to weaning, baby doesn’t know best and therefore baby-led weaning isn’t the best idea. ‘Young babies don’t have the hand-eye co-ordination to get the nutrition they need from six months,’ she said. Combining purées and finger foods from an early age is her preferred technique.
Several parents of newly weaned babies found themselves scratching their heads when preparing to go out and about before lunchtime. What to bring? ‘Try finger sandwiches, sticks of cheese, cold chicken, veg like carrots, sweet pepper and dried fruit like apricots,’ Annabel advised.
She also recommended Trail Mix bars and her own chicken apple balls recipe found in the Complete Baby & Toddler Meal Planner.
‘I think the hardest job in the world is being a mum,’ Annabel said to one worn-out tweeter, ‘but you get the greatest reward’.
Keep an eye out for our next Twitter chat by following @tescobabyclub.