Weaning a baby from breast milk or formula to solids is an exciting stage in their development. It can be a colourfully chaotic, hilariously messy and frantically frustrating process that allows a baby to explore different tastes and textures, awakening all of the senses to the world of flavours. Milk will still be their main source of nutrients for the next few months but this is the beginning of a wonderful transition.
When to start Weaning?
The general advice is that at 6 months old, a baby’s stores of vitamin D and iron begin to deplete and these must be replaced by different food types. Therefore, beginning to wean a baby onto solids at around this time is a good start. If the baby can hold their own head up and is able to swallow the solids you give them, then they are generally ready to try food.
How to get started..
Whether you have decided to go for baby led weaning or to use a spoon and feed them yourself, expect there to be a lot of mess and a lot of inconsistency. Babies may eat more one day and less the next; they may like something one minute and then change their mind; they may also want to independently feed themselves one day and will then refuse to pick up the spoon the next day – this is all part of the learning process and allows babies to explore and experiment with food. The best thing you can do is remain calm and offer milk/formula after each meal to top up their tummies.
When introducing new foods, begin with root vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes and butternut squash. Adding a little milk (breast or formula) to a pureed version will help to thin it down and provide the sweetness that babies are used to. Moving on to green vegetables, pulses, meat and bread is the next stage but be prepared to blend these if you are pureeing or use large chunks for babies to chew on if they are eating independently.
Top Tips to help..
1. Do not leave a baby alone when they are eating or drinking.
2. Introduce solid food at a time during the day when the baby is relaxed.
3. Let babies hold and smell ingredients to awaken their senses.
4. Give the baby a spoon to hold can encourage them to eat/feed.
5. If a baby does not like something at first, leave it a few days and try again – expect their taste buds to continue to change.
6. Start by giving about an ice cube’s worth of food (more if you are doing baby led weaning as a lot will end up on the floor).
7. Babies under 1 should not eat:
- Raw Eggs
- Soft Cheese or those made with unpasteurised Milk
- Shellfish, Shark, Sword fish or Marlin
Weaning babies on to food is a huge milestone – make sure you introduce foods gradually and look out for allergies. For more information on this, read our recent article on ‘Identifying and Coping with Allergies’.