Parents 'need baby food cookery classes'

 
weaning Early tastes can shape the way we eat

There is lots of advice around about breastfeeding, but relatively little about weaning babies onto food, says Dr Helen Coulthard from Leicester's De Montfort University.

In this week's Scrubbing Up the psychology expert calls for parents to be given free cookery classes so they don't rely on packets and jars.

The ultimate goal of weaning is getting your baby to eventually eat the same foods as the rest of the family.

By relying too much on ready prepared foods, with their attractive packaging of fruits and vegetables, we may be making it more difficult for our children to eat fruits and vegetables when they are older.

Packaged foods may seem to parents like a convenient and safe weaning option.

But an over-reliance on packets and jars sets a pattern of using ready-made foods.

And it denies babies the chance to try the variety of tastes, textures and appearance that fresh foods have to offer.

Research shows that there is a window of opportunity for introducing tastes and textures to young infants, before the age of 12 months. After 12 months, infants become much more difficult to feed, and often become wary of new foods.

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Never give your child something you would not be prepared to eat yourself”

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A recent study that I was involved in, using data collected from the ALSPAC study based at Bristol University, revealed a fifth of babies were having less than one exposure a day to fruits or vegetables. And babies who were given more home-cooked fruits and vegetables at six months were more likely to be eating more fruits and vegetables at seven years.

Although we can't say for sure if it is this early exposure to these foods that makes the difference or whether it is learned behaviour from the feeding habits of the whole family that is important, it makes sense that fresh is best.

Ready prepared baby foods are designed to be homogenised in taste and texture. One particular brand of apple puree will always taste the same. However, if you make your own apple puree, the variety of the apple, the amount of water added and the extent to which it is mashed will vary each time. This variation gives babies an important lesson in the tastes of food; small variations are acceptable.

So it is important that babies are given foods that vary in taste and texture, and ultimately represent the foods that the family eat. Really babies should be eating foods that not only taste like the foods that the family are eating, but visually resemble them. It is actually quite a large jump from the appearance of carrot puree on a spoon to whole carrots, so food in its recognisable form needs to be introduced.

A good rule of thumb when feeding children is to never give your child something you would not be prepared to eat yourself. If you would not eat a jar of baby food, then why give it to your child?

As the main problem seems to be that parents lack the confidence to make fresh homemade foods, then I propose that free baby food cookery courses should be offered to the parents of babies. A lot of effort is spent on increasing breast-feeding rates, however little is dedicated to the early provision of fruits and vegetables, which are just as important for lifelong health.

Current free weaning courses tend to merely involve the health visitor talking to parents, and practical courses are limited to expensive private courses run in big cities. Children's centres could easily adopt such courses to reach those parents who need the most help, and kick-start a fresh approach to feeding babies.

 

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 161.

    Why have we got this subject running but all of those topics that need comment have been closed or not published.
    How about letting us comment on the latest about A Coulson and D Camerons comments.
    The PM caught out again.

  • Comment number 160.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 159.

    When my oldest daughter was born we intended to make our own food for her when she was a baby.
    For the time and effort involved we found that the food in the small containers and jars was just as good and it has not done her any harm and is a healthy 13 year old.
    Just more of the nanny state interfering.
    Just bring back cookery classes at school with advice for feeding babies

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 158.

    Do parents 'need baby food cookery classes'?

    Maybe, but if they need them then they also need a check up from the neck up.

    Its NOT so bad the babyfoods in comparison to WRONG foods

    My word, you'd think that having a baby is like having a mongrel dog for all the STUPID ignorance about.
    So many attrocious mothers think its fine to stuff toddlers with advertised rubbish, get REAL & WISE

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 157.

    125.toycollector
    Another stunningly dull subject for the HYS site.
    Dumbing down isn't exclusively on BBCtv.

    +++

    Absolutely, there is clearly nothing else in the world to discuss, no wars, no stockmarket turmoil, no financial crisis, no enviromental issues...

    Just baby food and university clearing.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 156.

    How did people manage before the baby food market took off?

    Very well indeed, with healthy, happy babies.

    Steer clear of ALL baby foods.liquidise or mash up fresh home cooked meals giving a balanced menu of meat,vegetables & fruit.Our son was eating such from three weeks old! He is now 6ft & healthy.
    When I see mothers feeding their babies & children with jars/packets I feel sorry for the child

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 155.

    146.Librarian
    I think maybe some might.I know a few mums who are great cooks and some who cannot boil water.It would be nice for young mums to get cooking skills, it's a great art.

    +++

    And of course it is exclusively women's work, isn't it.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 154.

    My 4 kids were breastfed from birth, then went on baby powdered milk/food and liquidised family meals.
    All had different tastes but got a nutritious meal. Brussels sprouts were always compulsory at XMas as they hated them. Each of my kids are very fit, very few illnesses in fact I can count on 1 hand for the 4, the amount of days off work due to illness. My Grandson eats fruit in place of sweets.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 153.

    Conflictin advice does not help new mums. Mother's milk is best they say but what about the unfortunate mums who don't have any mild are they supposed to live feeling guilty. I had to rely on Ostermilk and then liquidised very healthy liquidised food and we were fine he never woke up before 9/10 in the morning, no night feeds and he grew with allergies or attention deficit just fit and happy.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 152.

    If parents eat a healthy diet then all they need is a liquidiser and their children can eat exactly the same as them as long as not too spicy. My son now 42 years old and from 4 months old he ate everything we did but liquidised-dinner, sweet and fruit and then when I felt he could mage some things without liquidising hes still got the same food as we ate. Stop excusing lack of common sence.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 151.

    Giving a baby nuts or honey is NOT a good idea.
    Mashed potato, baked beans and other veggies is fine on the weaning bit.
    The child will tell you of they are liked or not, but the most important thing to remember is milk is babies first food. Once their teeth start to come through, harder food can be chewed.

    An omni-various diet (most what mum and dad eats) with occasional true baby foods is best

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 150.

    Does anyone get why some earlier posts on here are rambling on about caning, riots and the Labour Party??
    Do you think they mistook 'canning' for 'caning'....?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 149.

    126 Rambo 16 Go with your daughter I would say. At 8 months, plenty of milk and 3 really tiny 'meals', by the time she's a year old her appetite will have increased considerably & milk drank just a couple of times a day, (water/diluted juice other times). Sometimes tiny babies eat little then next meal, they'll really go for it. It's not an exact science weaning, but tends to be ok in the end!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 148.

    A final word from Grandad. Most people know that an anxious mum is not enjoying her new motherhood experience and her baby will pick up on this anxiety when feeding. New Dads should take a turn on the feeding rota which can spread the load and help with the baby bonding. It can be quite a happy time once Dads have got the hang of it. I even changed and washed dirty towelling nappies in those days.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 147.

    If a baby's healthy diet is to its liking then he/she will soon get a good night's sleep which is surely just as important as having a full tummy or worse an overfull tummy? We were always told that a "faddy" feeder usually meant that the baby either didn't like the taste of the food or simply wasn't hungry - in which case just rely on the bottled milk and add a bit of powdered cereal to thicken.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 146.

    I think maybe some might.I know a few mums who are great cooks and some who cannot boil water.It would be nice for young mums to get cooking skills, it's a great art.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 145.

    It's a bit hit and miss, Billy. We had a health visitor for a while when my daughter was a baby but she moved to the other side of the city. By the time my son was a baby there was no health visitor at all in our local area - not a problem for an old hand like me but difficult for first time mums without family close by.
    Rusks were nice as I recall as a kid, sadly no longer in vogue anymore!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 144.

    Thanks to the Heinz and Ostermilk diet neither of our daughters developed any food allergies or bowel disorders or hyper activity or other ailments D.G.which seem to afflict youngsters today and which are often attributed to early diet. I honestly believe that young mums are bombarded with conflicting advice/advertising and it is no wonder that some become over anxious. Babies are not bone china!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 143.

    thank god for experts, how the human race has survived for so long is a tribute to their expertness

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 142.

    If my newly found friend 'general' was around I daresay that he would be advocating real ale to be included in baby's diet! In our child rearing days there was a midwife/child nurse visitor, Nurse Fraser - now sadly R.I.P. and she came regularly in the first few weeks to make sure that my wife was coping and that baby was alright. Doesn't that kind of thing happen with today's young mums?

 

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