Foods for weaning and how to prepare them

Carrot purée
Scrape carrot and boil it in a little unsalted water until tender; purée with enough of the cooking water to make a soft consistency. Start by giving a taste of 1/2 teaspoonful before or after the midday or evening milk.

Swede or Parsnip purée
Make like carrot purée

Use sweet apples only, not tart ones that require added sweetening. Peel, core, and slice apple; cook in 2 to 3 tablespoons water until tender; purée, adding a little extra boiled water if necessary to make a soft consistency.

Pear purée
Make like applesauce, using sweet pears.

Choose very ripe bananas. Peel. Remove the seeds with the point of a knife if you like. Mash flesh thoroughly with a fork, adding a little cooled boiled water if necessary to make a soft consistency.

Cut in half. Scoop out and mash a little of the flesh, adding a few drops of boiled water to soften if necessary.

Cut off the ends. Cut into small pieces, cook in a minimum of unsalted water until tender. Purée with enough cooking water to make a soft consistency.

Peel; remove the seeds. Cut the flesh into pieces and cook in a little boiling water until tender. Purée.

Equally suitable either raw or cooked. Sieve cooked tomato to remove the seeds. Scald and peel raw tomato, cut out the core, then mash. You can remove the seeds if you like, but the jelly around them is a valuable source of soluble fibre.

Grated apple or pear
Choose sweet apples and well-ripened pears. Peel and grate finely.

Peaches, apricots, nectarines, sweet cherries, plums, mangoes, papaya, kiwi fruit
Choose really ripe fruit. Remove the skin and pits; mash the flesh thoroughly.

Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, green cabbage
Wash and trim. Cook in a minimum of unsalted water until tender (they should be mashable but not soggy). Purée with a little of their cooking water. (Cooked cabbage and sprouts can create intestinal gas; if this is a problem, mix with another vegetable purée, such as carrot.)

Wash thoroughly, remove the stems, shred the leaves. Cook in a saucepan without extra water until spinach is tender. Puree. (Don’t give more than once or twice a week since the oxalic acid content affects the body’s absorption of some minerals.)

Dried apricots, prunes, pears, peaches, apples
Wash, then cover with boiling water and soak overnight. Next day, simmer until tender. Remove pits from prunes. Puree the fruit. (Can have rather a laxative effect.)

Baby rice cereal
This is best as a first cereal because it is the least likely to cause allergic reactions. Choose one fortified with additional iron and B vitamins, and make up with liquid according to directions on the package.

Scrub. Bake, or boil in unsalted water. Scoop potato out of skins and mash. A little cottage cheese, yogurt, tofu or milk can be added; also very finely chopped green vegetables, such as watercress or raw spinach leaves.

Corn, peas, green beans
Boil until tender; puree. Fresh or frozen are fine; canned are not advised because of the added salt and sugar.

Buy a mix without sugar and other additives, or make your own from oats, nuts, and raisins, then grind to a powder. Moisten with water, fruit juice, or plain yogurt. Sprinkle with wheat germ, mix well. Powdered nuts or seeds or grated apple or pear can be added.

Wholewheat bread
From six months onward, a little crustless bread can be added to vegetable purées. The bran in 100 per cent whole-grain bread and flour is too laxative for some babies; an 81-85 per cent bread (preferably with added wheat germ, for extra iron) is often a better choice for babies under two years old.

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