Autumn is a great time to begin weaning your little one because there is a wide variety of seasonal ingredients to choose from. We asked expert Annabel Karmel to share her advice for adding harvest produce to your weaning recipes
Which seasonal fruit and veg will your baby love?
Sweet root veg
“Autumn’s sweet root vegetables like butternut squash, carrots, sweet potato and parsnips, are popular first foods and perfect for weaning. So, if you are all set to introduce your little one to the wonderful world of solid foods, then you’re in luck – you’ve picked just the season!
“Easy for little tummies to digest, and unlikely to provoke an allergic reaction, root vegetables are your go-to for first foods. They also have a naturally sweet flavour (similar to breastmilk) and can easily be puréed to a smooth texture. As a tip, try mixing them with a little breast or formula milk to ease the transition.
“Whether you’re adopting a traditional spoon-led approach or looking at combining elements of baby-led weaning, for a nutritious autumnal dish for hungry tums, try this simple sweet potato, chickpea, carrot and spinach purée recipe.
“Root vegetables are delicious steamed or roasted in the oven as this caramelises the natural sugars and intensifies the sweet flavours. Serve in wedges or batons as finger foods or mix with in-season fruits as with this butternut squash, sweet potato and pear purée.”
“Apples and pears are at their absolute best this time of year. These humble fruits are versatile kitchen ingredients making them ideal first taste foods for your baby. As with root veggies, both apples and pears are low allergen foods. They are easy to digest and can be puréed to a smooth consistency for stage 1 weaning.
“They are also a great source of pectin; a naturally occurring soluble fibre that helps your baby’s body to process solid food more efficiently – another reason they frequently feature as a core first food. Cook up my ‘ready in minutes’ pear and plum pudding as a comforting bowl of goodness for your baby.
Can you feed kale to a weaning baby?
“Kale is one of the most nutritious vegetables you can give to your baby. It’s a bona fide ‘superfood’ as it is rich in vitamins A, C and E, iron, calcium and potassium.
“Most babies are open to trying new foods. However, it can often be tricky getting them to enjoy eating leafy green vegetables. It’s a good idea to combine kale with sweet potato, butternut squash or some Parmesan or Cheddar cheese.
“Remember, if you don’t have kale, you can use other nutritious greens such as cabbage, Swiss chard, or spinach. “
“From six months, your baby will need more than just fruit and vegetables. You’ll start to introduce iron-rich foods like meat, lentils, eggs and iron-enriched cereals. As well as foods rich in essential fatty acids from oily fish like salmon.
“Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in young children. Red meat provides the best source of iron and protein, along with other all-important nutrients.
“Iron is important for your baby’s brain development, especially from six months when the iron inherited from a baby’s mother runs out. At this stage your baby will need at least two portions of iron-rich food a day. Autumn is an ideal time to cook-up some comforting slow-cooked dishes, such as a beef casserole. Simply purée your baby’s portion to a smooth consistency and combine with fruit or root vegetables. You could then move on to cooked minced meat, which you can whiz in a blender for a few seconds as a way to introduce texture.”
What vegetarian meals have a high iron content?
“You could start by adding iron-rich lentils to purées. Other iron-rich foods to consider are tofu, beans and other pulses, eggs, green leafy vegetables and fortified breakfast cereals.
“In order for your baby to absorb iron, they need to combine non-meat sources of iron such as lentils with vitamin C. So, give your baby vitamin C rich fruits such as strawberries in the same meal.”
Nice and spicy
What kind of spice can you include in baby food?
“You’ll be amazed at some of the flavours that will appeal to your little one. Try adding garam masala – an aromatic blend of spices – which tastes great in chicken dishes, like this purée of butternut squash, apricot and chicken.
“Try experimenting with garlic, herbs and spices to liven-up your baby’s food and slowly introduce them to interesting flavour combinations.
“For toddlers (and the whole family), this chicken curry with butternut squash and apricots is a good autumnal introduction to mild spice. The apricots give a delicious natural sweetness which makes the introduction of new foods appealing to younger children.”
From leading children’s cookery author and feeding expert, Annabel Karmel, Weaning includes everything you need to know about traditional and baby-led weaning. There’s advice on when to start, critical nutrients, how to cater for allergies and intolerances. Plus, more than 60 healthy and delicious recipes to delight your little one.
The World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond.