Today’s children are being weaned onto rice cakes, mango and even avocado instead of the more traditional toast, porridge and rusks, a study has found.
Eight out of ten parents believe the diets of babies and toddlers have changed over the years with more exotic fruit and vegetables more likely to be used to wean children nowadays.
Eighteen per cent more children are given rice cakes as first finger foods today than 20 years ago, while 17 per cent more are fed avocado – compared to just two per cent in previous generations.
The number of children being fed sweet potato as a first food has risen by 22 per cent, while the introduction of pears has increased by 11 per cent.
Wafers, kiwi fruit and courgettes have also seen an increase in popularity in recent years. In contrast, rusks have suffered the biggest decline of all foods – with 32 per cent LESS children eating them now compared to 20 years ago.
And 72 per cent of parents believe giving your child varied foods can have an effect on how adventurous they are with foods as they get older.
Fifty-six per cent of those put this down to their baby trying these foods before they are old enough to say they don’t like them, while another 53 per cent believe giving children fancy foods early on means they have time to try things over and over again.
Kiddylicious (Kiddylicious.com) nutritionist Charlotte Stirling-Reed, which commissioned the research to mark the launch of My First Wafers, said: “There is so much choice out there for parents these days when offering first foods to their little ones it can be easy to get overwhelmed and not know where to start.
“But moving babies from milk onto solid food is an important milestone, it’s all about experimenting and it should be fun for parents and baby.
“However, the foods offered at this stage set the tone for future food preferences and patterns of eating and so it’s important to offer plenty of variety at this time.
”Finger foods, including avocados, well-cooked carrots and wafers, are important to include as they are great for helping children to develop their pincer grip, learn how to self-feed and also develop the jaw muscles they need for speech and language.”
The OnePoll study of 2,000 parents – 1,000 who have an under five and 1,000 who have children aged 20 and over shows unhealthy choices such as ice cream, chips, cakes and rusks are losing favour with mums when deciding what to feed their children during the weaning stage.
It also emerged almost three quarters of parents believe giving their child a more varied diet from day one means they are less likely to grow up as a fussy eater.
And despite 60 per cent of parents feeling a little overwhelmed at the thought of weaning, the large majority are focussed on ensuring their little ones have an adventurous diet which will continue into adulthood.
Almost six in ten parents of under-fives even claim their child has a more varied diet than they do – as they eat a greater variety of fruit and vegetables.
Rusks are no longer the go-to first food for babies, with more than half of modern mums opting for other options.
And 16 per cent of children today had butternut squash as one of their early foods, with less than four per cent of babies in the 1990s having it.
Other foods which are more likely to be given to children while weaning now include strawberries, broccoli and peppers.
Children of today are also far more likely to go straight to whole or finger foods during weaning, with 14 per cent of modern day parents offering solid options such as carrot sticks or rice cakes, compared to just three per cent of previous generations.
It was also revealed that modern children are also being offered more adventurous food throughout their childhood with many now having their first taste of curry, quinoa and even olives before they reach their 5th birthday.
One in ten under-fives have also tried olives which is double the one in twenty in previous generations, while 37 per cent of today’s under-fives have had curry compared to just 12 per cent of their older counterparts.
While almost one in ten under-fives have already had their first taste of quinoa.
A spokeswoman for Kiddylicious added: “The vast choice now offered to weaning babies has led to our most successful launch – Wafers, of which 3 million are now eaten every month.
“Made with rice flour and subtle hints of real fruit and vegetable, they contain significantly less sugar than a standard rusk giving parents peace of mind.
“They are also light and dissolve easily in the mouth, so make the ideal first finger food, and also encourage taste bud development, develop jaw muscles for speech and hand-eye coordination for self-feeding. Kiddylicious.com
Kiddylicious are also running the #WaferMoment campaign, supported by this weaning trends survey.