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Wean In 15: What foods to offer baby first

Posted by Joe Wicks in Recipes, Wellbeing

Charlotte Stirling-Reed is a registered Nutritionist who specialises in maternal, infant and toddler nutrition. Charlotte will be working with me to develop my first baby recipe book 'Wean In 15'. This blog is the second in a new series where Charlotte will be offering some tips and advice on infant nutrition for anyone who is starting out on their parenting journey.

By Charlotte Stirling-Reed, @SR_Nutrition

The introduction of solid foods to a baby is largely about one thing... EXPERIMENTING!

In the past foods recommended as babies’ first foods were those that were likely to be easily accepted and gobbled up: think rice pudding, baby porridge (both similar to milk) and apple purees (super sweet).

Babies are born with a preference for sweet foods – it’s innate – and so they don’t need much in the way of encouragement to help them like the sweet taste of apple or pear.

However taste preferences change throughout life and it seems that early experiences with food and flavours can help shape babies’ food preferences and potentially influence the way they eat later on in life.

Vegetables as baby’s first food?

A whole host of new research has looked at the idea of weaning with vegetables first. Savoury, bitter, sweet veggies – you name it – should be offered in order to help encourage acceptance of vegetables and to expose babies to these flavours in early life to help children to develop a liking for these very early on.

Introducing greens and veggies first ISN’T a fail-safe method to protect against a fussy toddler at two years old (sometimes that’s inevitable!), but research has shown that babies given a ‘novel’ vegetable or even a variety of veggies early on, tend to eat more veggies as they get older too.

This is why a number of baby food brands and infant nutrition organisations have started to focus on vegetable as a first food. It’s also why the Start 4 Life campaign from the NHS now suggests that from around 6 months:

“Include vegetables that aren’t so sweet, such as broccoli, cauliflower and spinach – this will help your baby get used to a range of flavours (rather than just the sweeter ones like carrots and sweet potato).”

What’s Joe doing with Indie?

So on Joe’s weaning journey with Indie he’s started her on green and bitter veggies for the first week or so in order to help her try some completely new tastes and to experiment with flavours she’s never had before. Hopefully this will help her to become more familiar with savoury and bitter tastes, rather than just sweet tastes, and hopefully this will lead her to enjoy and accept more variety later in life too.

Of course initially babies are unlikely to be bowled over with the taste of broccoli, sprouts and cabbage, having had nothing but sweet milk for the first months of life!! But this is perfectly normal as it can take up to 8-10 tastes before baby accepts new foods.

Next steps…

After introducing plenty of vegetables over the first week or so, Joe will probably start to include some sweeter veggies, as well as a wide variety of other foods alongside the green veg. These will range from carbohydrates such as potato, pasta and rice to protein and iron-rich foods such as beans, lentils, meat, fish and eggs – just making sure they are all the right texture for her own stage and development. It’s all about gradually moving Indie on to a varied diet with lots of brand new tastes and flavours for her to try. During these early stages Indie will also likely be having the same amount of milk as she was before she began weaning.

Charlotte's top tips for babies’ first foods:

·       Try mixing the green veggies with some of baby’s normal milk initially, to add familiarity.

·       Try to offer a range of different veggie tastes in those first weeks of weaning.

·       Don’t worry if not much actually gets into baby’s mouth and tummy initially; this stage is about getting used to the spoon and/or pieces of foods.

·       Even if baby is just touching, playing, smelling or licking their spoon/finger foods in those first few attempts – this is great as it all goes to help baby build up familiarity with these new foods.

·       Have fun with veggies – get the camera out for those facials – wrinkling their nose, and pulling a disgruntled face is completely normal and certainly doesn’t mean that baby doesn’t like the food which is being offered – it’s just new and sometimes surprising.

·       Remember that introducing baby to new foods will take time – don’t expect baby to accept them overnight. It’s a gradual learning experience and all babies are so different when it comes to the acceptance of new foods.


Joe’s first steps in Indie's weaning journey:

1.)   Introduce green veggies initially alongside baby’s normal milk – just a few teaspoons or a single finger food as she’ll still be getting her nutrition from her normal milk amount at this stage. 

2.)   After a week or so, start adding other veggies into the mix, including some sweeter options such as sweet potato, parsnip and carrot.

3.)   After testing a variety of vegetables, start building on the variety Indie has by including proteins such as eggs, fish and beans, as well as starchy foods such as cooked pasta and potatoes, making sure the texture is right for baby at each stage.


N.B. Whichever way you decide to wean your baby is absolutely fine – all babies are so different and if you’re offering purees, finger foods or both that’s absolutely fine. Also many parents decide to go along the more traditional route of offering baby rice and fruits, that’s absolutely safe to do too.

A little more about me…

I qualified as a Nutritionist after undertaking a degree in Nutrition and Human Biology and a Masters in Nutrition and Public Health, following which I spent a few years working in the NHS as a Child Nutritionist. Since starting my own Freelance work I have been working really closely with the media, appearing across TV, radio and print discussing a variety of nutrition topics, but more recently, since I’ve had my son, Raffy, talking more about maternal and child nutrition. I also work with brands and the food industry to spread more evidence-based messages about the food we eat and the food we feed our kids too.  

RELATED ARTICLES: When to start offering solid foods to baby

You can find out much more about me, about the work I do and about Maternal and Child Nutrition by visiting my website www.srnutrition.co.uk and by following me on Instagram @SR_Nutrition where I share my own food journey with my little boy who is currently 1.5 years old. 


1.)  https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/nbu.12202

2.)  file:///C:/Users/User/Downloads/ijerph-13-01160.pdf

3.)  https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0097609

4.)  https://eat-health-pleasure.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Final.published.paper_.FQP_.Sept_.2007.pdf

5.) https://www.researchgate.net/publication/232538379_Pass_the_Sugar_Pass_the_Salt_Experience_Dictates_Preference

6.)  https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/public-health-nutrition/article/div-classtitlelong-term-consequences-of-early-fruit-and-vegetable-feeding-practices-in-the-united-kingdomdiv/526442B43D13F0E8B3974055429D37DE


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Joe Wicks

About Joe Wicks

Joe Wicks is the online nutrition coach inspiring people all over the world to cook with his #Leanin15 video meals on Instagram. He is also transforming the lives of thousands of people with his tailored online nutrition plan, The 90 Day Shift, Shape & Sustain plan.

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Charlotte Stirling-Reed is a registered Nutritionist who specialises in maternal, infant and toddler nutrition. Charlotte will be working with me to develop my first baby recipe book 'Wean In 15'. This blog is the first in a new series where Charlotte will be offering some tips and advice on infant nutrition for anyone who is starting out on their parenting journey.

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