Some people might have the temptation to start introducing solids for hungry babies from a really early age. However, breastmilk (or formula) is all they need for the first 6 months.
Once your baby reaches 6 months you can start slowly introducing solid food to their diet. It’s not as intimidating as it sounds.
For more, qualified, information on what to feed your baby as they start weaning visit this HSE resource: https://www.breastfeeding.ie/As-baby-grows/Introducing-family-foods/
Signs that your baby is ready for solids
- They’re starting to develop a ‘pincer’ grasp. This is where they start to pick up items with their thumb and forefinger. Holding things in their hands isn’t enough.
- They can sit up unaided, also known as without support.
- The baby is seriously interested in your meals, tries to grab your food and put it into their mouth.
- They’ve lost the reflex which pushes food back out of their mouth when they chew. This is called the tongue-thrust reflex.
If you wait until your baby is beyond 6 months of age and can tick the list above, the good news is that they are the perfect candidate for baby led weaning. The beauty of baby led weaning is that you can basically feed the baby what you eat, providing you take care not to introduce too much refined sugar, or salt to their diet.
My favourite weaning foods:
- Chopped fruit – make sure you chop your grapes the right way!
- Steamed vegetables cut into batons – carrots, potatoes, broccoli
- Fresh Sweetcorn and peas are great to exercise that pincer grasp
- Breadsticks and crackers
- Cooked and cooled pasta such as fusilli or penne
Remember: Weaning is going to make a mess! Sit a high chair on top of an old table cloth for easy clean up after meal times.
Top Tip: Feed the baby from your own plate by sitting them on your knee and giving them a spoon to feed themselves.
Homemade Bread Sticks Recipe
This recipe is for bread sticks that a baby can hold in their hand and chew on if they like. For a more adult twist you could coat them in sesame, poppy or nigella (black onion) seeds, or even just plain sea salt and black pepper before baking. Because there is no salt in the dough, they will only keep well in a sealed, dry container if they are well baked, hard the whole way through and cold. What I do is make a batch of the dough, cook 1/4 into breadsticks, cook another 1/2 into a focaccia style bread and refrigerate the last amount to bake the following day.
Breadsticks are a great way to introduce new flavours to children by dipping into hummus example. Let’s face it they’re also a yummy nibble to have before a main meal or with a glass of wine!
- 400g Strong White Flour
- 100g Semolina Flour – with another 20g odd for sprinkling to stop the dough sticking
- 1 x 7g package of ready mix yeast
- 1 tsp of sugar
- 325ml water at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons of sunflower oil
- 1 large bowl
- 1 large jug
- Weighing scales
- 2 Baking trays
- Spray sunflower oil
- Cling film
- Cooling rack
- Place your large bowl on the weighing scales and weigh all the dried ingredients into the bowl.
- Now place the jug onto the weighing scales and weigh out the water and add the sunflower oil then stir.
- Make a well in the middle of the bowl of dried ingredients and pour the liquid in.
- Mix until the ingredients come together into a ball.
- Knead for about 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth. Note – if you have a stand mixer with a dough hook then use it here it will save you time & energy!
- Wash and dry the bowl then spray the inside with sunflower oil.
- Place the dough in the oiled bowl then cover with cling film and leave in a warm spot to prove. This normally takes me about 2 hours but it depends on how warm your kitchen is.
- Once proved, preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
- Spray your baking trays then sprinkle with semolina flour to stop the breadsticks from sticking as they bake.
- Remove the cling film from the bowl and taking ping-pong ball sized lumps roll them between your hands until they become long sausages.
- Place onto the baking trays, about 3cm apart.
- Bake for 15-20 mins until golden brown and crispy.
- Make sure you remove these from the oven and carefully pop them onto a cooling rack for about 30 mins before eating.