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Is your baby developing a sweet tooth?

 Starting solids is an exciting and messy milestone for you and your baby, but it can feel somewhat daunting and overwhelming in the beginning. There’s so much conflicting and confusing advice out there about which foods to start with, while guidelines and expert opinions are changing regularly. 

If you’re feeling confused about what to offer first, it’s natural to think that a baby should start with sweet fruit and vegetables. Breastmilk and formula is sweet after all, but it’s a misconception that it’s what their palates are used to and expect. 

What to do if you baby is developing a sweet tooth

While offering apple puree, or mixing pear in with broccoli is great, your baby might start to develop a preference for the sweet stuff if they’re eating it regularly. For example, does your baby devour bananas, but rejects zucchini? Do they only eat vegetable purées if they also contain fruit? If you’re noticing that your little one is developing a sweet tooth, then it’s not too late to introduce new tastes. 

It’s important to let babies explore different flavours

It’s human nature to prefer sweet food, but if babies are exposed to a diverse array of flavours and textures early on, they’re more likely to try new foods. This crucial window of introducing variety will set your baby up to be an adventurous eater. If you can avoid picky eating from the outset, everyone’s lives will be a lot easier!

What you can do to broaden your baby’s palate

Babies are generally open to experimenting with new flavours, but it can take five, ten, even twenty exposures to a new food before they accept it. Refusing new foods is their biological survival mechanism to avoid danger, particularly when it comes to bitter foods. All the more reason to keep offering them, so don’t give up when they reject something new. 

Offer a rainbow

Ideally you want to offer a variety and rotate foods gradually. There’s no need to start with the ‘safe’ sweet vegetables, but instead offer pureed spinach, for example (always check with your Maternal and Child Health nurse first, and be aware of food allergies). As your baby is exposed to more and more tastes, you can start to introduce herbs and spices. Think of the babies in some parts of the world who start with mild curries. 

What to look for in commercial baby food

You’re a busy parent, so understandably you’ll need to occasionally reach for the convenient baby food options from the supermarket. Choose wisely and read the labels. A good idea is to go for the savoury options that don’t have added fruit. If you’re looking at baby snacks, choose the ones that aren’t sweetened with fruit juice. Babies simply don’t need all of that sugar. Have a look at our list of baby foods with added sugars to avoid. 

Making your own baby meals doesn’t have to be hard

When preparing food for your baby, there’s really no need to overcomplicate it. When you make your own dinner, keep aside some of the cooked vegetables (as long as there’s no salt). Steam them, roast them, fry them…however you’re cooking them for yourself, your baby can have them (obviously ensuring they’re soft enough and the right size to prevent choking). 

Whether you’re offering purées or finger foods, here are some simple vegetable combinations that will provide a variety of tastes to give you some inspiration:

  • Zucchini, pea, and mint puree
  • Sweet potato, spinach, and leek
  • Roast pumpkin, sweet potato, and capsicum
  • Steamed green beans, cauliflower, and potato
  • Swede, carrots, and broccoli

If you’re not sure about which foods to introduce when, please read this article, and for more easy homemade recipes from our blog, head here. Bon appétit!

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