Modern babies are no longer being weaned on porridge, rusks and toast – and are instead being introduced to rice cakes, mango and avocado, a study has found.
Eight out of ten parents believe the diets of babies and toddlers have changed over the years, with exotic fruit and vegetables taking the place of traditional fare.
Eighteen per cent more children are given rice cakes as their first finger foods today than they were 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.
Kiddylicious 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 results came from a study of 2,000 parents – 1,000 who have an under five and 1,000 who have children aged 20.
Researchers found 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 – double the one in 20 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.
Top first foods now (% difference compared to 20 years ago)
Sweet potatoes +21.9%
Rice cakes +18.1%
Butternut squash +12%
Kiwi Fruits +6.9%
Red Cabbage +1.8%
Baby rice -4.2%
Ice cream -9.2%
Toast -10.7 %
Fish fingers -12.2%