Updated: Sep 30, 2020
It’s all over Pinterest and Instagram, beautiful weaning guides and plans to help you introduce 100 different foods to your baby before their first birthday.
But should you? Is there a benefit to this challenge? Will it make your baby less fussy, more open to trying new foods? Do you count foods when they are licked and spat out, or only if the food is eaten? Should you give them until your baby likes them, or just offer the once?
If you start weaning at 6 months, that gives you 182 days to play with. Let’s say you offer 1 meal for the first month, then 2 meals from 7 months and are giving 3 meals at 9 months onwards. That’s roughly 360 meal occasions to offer new foods at. So 100 before 1 should be easy right?
Well, first think about how many different foods you eat on a daily basis. Or over a week. It’s probably not that’s a huge number. Partly due to preferences but also due to budget and meal planning, avoiding food waste, what’s available, what’s on offer and who is cooking. We are creatures of habit, and most of us stick to what we know and like.
Foods need to be tasted by babies many times before we know if they are liked foods. And for most babies tasting a new food only comes after familiarisation - they need to see and experience the food in their environment first, and that means you eating and cooking with it.
Food challenges and weaning guides, like 100 foods before 1, can be a good thing if they prompt you to think about how you can mix up your own diet and increase the variety you are having. Our gut microbiome wants us to eat a variety of plant based foods in order to stay healthy, so this could be a great starting point for adding some new types of veg into your diet.
Challenges like this can become a problem if they cause you to feel anxious and under pressure to do something that isn’t right for your baby. Some babies will take a lot longer to wean than others, might be more reluctant eaters and less willing to try new foods. Having the deadline loom over you can create a stressful eating environment, which can affect your babies enjoyment of food.
Weaning guides or food lists from others can act as a source of inspiration if you aren’t particularly adventurous with food. And seeing someone else has offered prawns or nut butter, might give you the confidence boost to introduce these foods to your own baby.
The most important thing about introducing new foods during weaning isn’t the number of foods that they are exposed to - you haven’t failed at weaning if you don’t offer 100 foods before 1. Instead it’s about offering a variety of foods to your baby in a way that is relaxed, neutral, responsive and provides the space for them to explore foods in their own time.
That’s what will help your baby to become a confident happy eater.
If you're thinking about starting to introduce food to your baby soon, have a read of my blog post about the 5 first steps you need to take. And why not join me for my next online weaning workshop? We'll cover everything you could possibly need to know to get started with weaning, leaving you confident and ready to get you baby tasting all manner of different foods. You can book your place on the workshop here.