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As long as your baby’s showing signs they’re ready1, you can still safely wean your baby onto solid foods and slowly start to introduce new tastes and textures. However, there may be a few things for you to consider in light of the coronavirus.
Read on to learn more about the extra food hygiene measures you should take, store cupboard ingredients you can use when fresh produce is scarce, and alternative equipment you can use.
Are there any extra hygiene measures I should take when preparing food for my baby?
While the Food Standards Agency advise that it’s very unlikely you or your baby will catch coronavirus from food2, and that cooking will kill the virus, good hygiene is always important when preparing food for your baby.
In current times, it’s more important than ever to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and thoroughly dry them before preparing food, before eating food and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
Take particular care to lather the palms and backs of your hands, in between your fingers and under any rings you are wearing to ensure your wash your hands effectively3.
Remember to wash your baby’s hands thoroughly before they start eating too.
Be sure to clean your kitchen worksurfaces and chopping boards with disinfectant before and after preparing meals – if you can’t get hold of disinfectant, use hot, soapy water instead.
It’s also recommended that you wash any fruit and vegetables that come without packaging thoroughly with running water2.
If you’re new to weaning, you’ll probably already have most of the equipment you’ll need. If you’re starting your baby on smooth purées, you’ll need a couple of plastic or rubber baby spoons – metal spoons can hurt your baby’s delicate gums.
If you don’t have a steamer, simply use a metal colander in a covered saucepan of boiling water. Once mashed, you can always add a little water, breast milk or formula milk to help smooth the mixture. Apples, pears, carrots, and sweet potatoes are also all easy to cook and mash to a smooth consistency.
Are tinned, jarred and frozen foods healthy for my baby?
If access to fresh vegetables and fruit is limited for you at the moment, using frozen, jarred or tinned fruit and veg are great options. Just remember to rinse any tinned vegetables that are in brine to remove the added salt. And if you’re using tinned fruit, use the varieties that are in juice and not syrup.
If you’re just starting your weaning journey, it’s good to start with single vegetables so your baby gets used to their taste. At this stage your baby only needs a small amount of cooked food once or twice a day.
Are shop bought baby foods healthy for my baby?
It’s a common misconception that homemade food is better than manufactured baby food, but that’s not always the case. There are plenty of nutritious options for your baby to enjoy as part of their normal weaning diet.
Shop-bought baby foods can make excellent nutritious alternatives when it’s not possible to prepare meals from scratch, not to mention being extra convenient.
If you’re at the earlier stages of weaning your baby, there are plenty of single vegetable options for your baby to try, before they start exploring different flavour combinations.
As weaning progresses, shop-bought baby food can also provide exciting new flavours and combinations, helping your child discover new tastes and textures*, as well as getting the right balance of nutrients.
Baby food: The manufacturing process
To help put your mind at ease, all manufactured baby foods produced in the UK follow strict regulations to ensure they are safe and suitable for your baby. The levels of salt, sugar and vitamins and minerals are also strictly controlled.
Remember to always check the best before and use by dates on all food packaging before feeding any foods to your baby, and follow the storage instructions once opened to ensure food safety.
What about progressing through the weaning stages?
If you’re further on with your weaning journey, exploring new tastes and thicker textures, you need to make sure you’re offering your little one a wide variety of foods. This will help to ensure they get a good balance of vitamins and minerals, as well as the energy they need to grow, learn and explore the world around them.
From 6 months
At this stage, it’s especially important to make sure they get a healthy amount of iron in their everyday diet, as the natural stores they were born with begin to run low after about 6 months.
From 7 months
Trying a baby porridge or fortified breakfast cereal from 7 months onwards can help with getting key vitamins and minerals into their diet. Tinned lentils, beans or chickpeas (avoid tins with salted water) are also great options for getting more iron into their diet.
Be sure to include lots of different vegetables as part of their main meal, with fruit for dessert.
Milk is still important throughout all stages of weaning, so continue to breastfeed your baby as normal or offer at least 500-600ml of formula milk per day (this includes any milk you use to make their food).
*The Department of Health recommend weaning at around 6 months. Please speak with a healthcare professional before introducing solid foods.
- Food Standards Agency. Guidance for consumers on coronavirus (COVID-19) and food. [Online]. 2020. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-consumers-on-coronavirus-covid-19-and-food/guidance-for-consumers-on-coronavirus-covid-19-and-food Accessed April 2020.
- NHS. How to wash your hands. [Online]. 2020. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/best-way-to-wash-your-hands/ Accessed April 2020.
Questions about feeding and nutrition?
Our midwives, nutritionists and feeding advisors are always on hand to talk about feeding your baby. So if you have a question, just get in touch.