Annabel Karmel: Introducing new foods

The second stage of weaning marks the introduction of a wide range of foods. It’s not enough to continue giving just fruit and vegetable purees for too long as they are low in calories and babies need nutrient dense foods to fuel their rapid growth.

There are also certain nutrients that are particularly important like essential fatty acids and iron. The importance of fish in your baby’s diet particularly oily fish can’t be underestimated and it can be introduced from six months.

We now know that the healthy fats (EFA’s) contained in oily fish like salmon encourage growth as well as the development of your baby’s brain and visual development. Lentils are a good addition to your baby’s diet and the lentil and vegetable purées in my books are very popular. Lentils contain protein, iron and fibre and they are a good source of iron for a vegetarian baby.

If you are going to bring up your baby on a vegetarian diet then bear in mind that an adult vegetarian diet is not suitable as it tends to be too bulky and as a baby’s tummy is only small your baby will feel full before she gets the nutrients that she needs to grow. This is why it is important to include some nutrient dense food like cheese in your baby’s diet.

Chicken is great because it is so versatile. You can combine it with root vegetables such as carrot or sweet potato to give it a smooth texture or add fruit such as apple to give it a slightly sweet taste. If you make a roast chicken for the family you could mix some of the roast chicken with cooked vegetables and some stock or fruit. Cows’ milk, cheese, butter and yogurt can be included in your baby’s diet from 6 months. Babies grow at a rapid rate so you should give full fat milk and dairy products.

Although your baby will now be able to eat a wide variety of different foods, there are some that will need to wait until a little bit later and it’s important to remember that your baby will not be ready for adult food just yet and you will need to avoid rich, fatty, spicy and sugary foods. You also need to avoid salt and honey in the first year, unpasteurised dairy products, undercooked eggs and whole nuts although nut butters like peanut butter are fine from 6 months provided there is no history of nut allergy in the family.

SUITABLE FROM 6 MONTHS • MAKES 5 PORTIONS • Suitable for freezing

A delicious combination and it’s nice to add garlic and fresh herbs to bring out the flavour as you cannot add salt. Interestingly it’s fine to add frozen vegetables like peas to your baby’s puree as they are frozen within hours of being picked thus locking in all the valuable nutrients.

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • half small sweet red pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 chicken breast cut into pieces (125g)
  • 2 tbsp apple juice
  • 175 ml chicken stock
  • 1 medium courgette, chopped (100g)
  • 200g sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 50g frozen peas
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil, torn
  1. Sauté the onion and sweet pepper in the olive oil until softened.
  2. Add the garlic and sauté for one minute.
  3. Stir in the chicken and continue to cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Pour over the apple juice and stock and stir in the courgette and sweet potato.
  5. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for about 8 minutes.
  6. Stir in the peas and continue to cook for 3 minutes.
  7. Stir in the basil.
  8. Chop or puree to the desired consistency.


You may not have thought of giving your baby lentils but the lentil purees in my books are some of my most popular baby recipes. Lentils are an excellent source of protein and iron and they contain fibre. If you plan to bring your child up on a vegetarian diet then lentil purees with a little added cheese will make a good alternative to meat.

  • 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped (75g)
  • 25g red pepper cored, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 tbsp red lentils
  • 200 ml boiling water or unsalted
  • vegetable stock
  • 50g grated Cheddar cheese


  1. Heat the oil and sauté the onion, carrot and red pepper for 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Rinse the lentils, add them to the pan and pour over the boiling water or vegetable stock.
  3. Cover and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes or until the lentils are quite mushy.
  4. Top up with a little more water if necessary but there should be only a little liquid left in the pan at the end.
  5. Stir in the Cheddar cheese and purée using an electric hand blender.

SUITABLE FROM 6 months • MAKES 4 PORTIONS • Suitable for freezing
Oily fish contains essential fatty acids which are very important for the formation of the brain and visual development. In the first year, a baby’s brain triples in size and a large part of the brain is made up of fatty acids, these are also important for visual development. Eating the right kind of fats can make us smarter and including the omega-3 variety in a child’s diet has been shown to improve the performance of children with dyspraxia and dyslexia.

  • 1 sweet potato (approx 300g ), peeled and chopped
  • 125g fillet of salmon, skinned
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 15g butter plus a knob of butter for the fish
  • 2 ripe tomatoes (150g), skinned, de-seeded and roughly chopped
  • 40g Cheddar cheese grated
  1. Put the sweet potato into a steamer, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, place the fish in a microwave dish, add the milk and dot with butter.
  3. Cover leaving an air vent and microwave on high for approx 2 minutes or until the fish is just cooked and flakes easily with a fork.
  4. Alternatively put the salmon in a small pan, add enough milk to just cover the fish and simmer for about 4 minutes or until cooked.
  5. Melt the remaining butter in a saucepan, stir in the chopped tomatoes and sauté for about 2 minutes until softened.
  6. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese until melted. Mash the fish and cooking liquid together with the cooked sweet potato and tomato and cheese sauce or for young babies put the fish plus cooking liquid into a blender together with the sweet potato and cheese and tomato mixture. Blend until smooth. If too thick add a little more milk.

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