Annabel Karmel on Weaning through the ages

Annabel Karmel explores how weaning has changed over time

With thanks to Annabel Karmel

As we entered 2020 and with it, a new decade, I reflected on my 30 years of working in the baby and children’s food industry. When I look back to when I was writing my first book it’s remarkable to think how much weaning has changed over time.

The traditional weaning approach

The traditional weaning approach of our parents and grandparents saw a focus on simple vegetable and fruit purees – think stewed apple and baby rice! And while that may have been the go-to back in our parents’ day, things have shifted as we’ve learned more about what babies need and weaning has changed over time. We now know that although first taste fruits and veggies are important we also realise that critical nutrients such as iron, protein and omega 3 fatty acids are essential at an early age. I’m sure we’ve all heard the age-old phrase ‘Food before one is just for fun’ before, and yes, food should be fun, but it also has a vital job to do from the very start of weaning in terms of helping your baby to get more of the necessary nutrients they need for growth and development. When I was starting out I was told that babies and toddlers only liked bland food but of course this just wasn’t true. This was when I set out to disprove the theory with my recipes and how my career began. Nowadays, it’s hard to believe this was ever the case as children eat just as well, if not better on occasion, than the grownups! Babies now from a young age are exposed to (and enjoying) more adventurous flavours.

What we feed our babies is changing

Parents have much more confidence in the kitchen and I think this will only continue to grow. We’re becoming savvier about the types of foods we are giving our children and it’s great to see parents feeding their families a variety of different foods and interesting flavour combinations. I imagine parents will become even more experimental in the years to come in terms of new foods and flavours they introduce their children to from an early age – just think of what new weird and wonderful ‘superfood’ ingredients will emerge over the next ten years! 

Vegan diets for babies 

The ever-growing popularity of adopting a vegan diet is still very much on the rise and nowadays this is just as relevant with adults as it is with weaning babies. We have become extremely conscious of what we eat ourselves along with what we are feeding our children in general, and this is due to both the health and environmental implications. There are lots of health benefits associated with veganism and while a vegan diet can certainly work for adults, for little ones, a strict plant-based diet although possible, needs close management. Parents have to be extra careful to ensure their child is getting key nutrients mainly in the form of protein, calcium, iron and vitamin B12 for their development and long-term health.

Remember to enjoy it

Although weaning may have changed and naturally progressed in my 30 years of experience, my advice will always remain the same – it’s easy to forget but parents should remember to enjoy it! Taking your first steps into the world of weaning can be daunting, especially when faced with mountains of conflicting advice and opinions. My mantra is simple; experiment with a wide variety of healthy foods and flavour combinations at the very start of a baby’s weaning journey. Once you’ve mastered the basic steps, you’ll soon be on the road to weaning victory!     Get ready to feed your baby confidently with Annabel Karmel’s NEW Digital Weaning Course. With the latest nutrition advice, practical guidance, planners, printable checklists, and brand-new recipes, it’s the go-to resource to help give your baby the best start. Visit www.annabelkarmelweaning.com

£25 OFF promotion for Weaning Week

To celebrate Weaning Week, Annabel is offering £25 OFF her Digital Weaning Course with promo code AKWEANWEEK. Only available from Monday 4th until 17th May, so sign up today!

Follow Annabel on Instagram: @annabelkarmel and Twitter@annabelkarmeluk

      Disclaimer: The views and advice given in this article are those of the guest writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Weaning Week or any other organisations represented on this platform    

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