A simple guide to making their solid food journey as fuss-free as can be!
Weaning is an exciting part of your baby’s development and an essential one, too. At around six months old your little ones are finally ready and able to digest and absorb the nutrients in solid foods so that they can grow big and strong like you.
So where to begin!?
Read on for our top tips on how to make weaning a relaxed and enjoyable experience for both you and baby.
Look out for signs your baby is ready and choose how you want to wean.
All babies are different, so it stands to reason that they would be ready to start their solid food journey at different stages, too. Some parents introduce their little ones to food as early as 4 months and others decide to hold off for a little while, sticking to breast milk/ formula until they’re around 6-8 months old. Generally, the signs that they are ready for their first little taster are:
– Good eye, hand and mouth coordination. If they are making smooth, prolonged eye contact with objects then they may be ready to start doing the same when handling food.
– If they can stay in a sitting position, holding their heads up right and steadily for long periods at a time.
– Offer them a soft piece of fruit like mashed banana and if you notice that they swallow it with ease, then they are probably ready for the real thing!
You do not necessarily have to choose between baby-led weaning (encouraging them to feed themselves) or traditional weaning (spoon feeding). In fact, the best approach to take is a flexible one – after all, every day is different so their mealtimes should be too.
But if you are choosing to focus more on an independent eating style, then baby-led weaning may feel like the right approach for you.
So you may want to start with a few vegetables and fruits they can easily pick up and experiment with. Offer things like sticks of apple, broccoli and sweet potato to provide a varied tasting experience and ensure they are soft enough to chew and served at the right temperature. Eventually, you can move onto much messier choices like rice and pasta with homemade creamy tomato sauces and a little meat and egg to form part of a healthy, balanced diet.
Keep It Simple.
It’s a good idea to introduce your little one’s first meal when they are at their most content, so preferably when they have already had a little milk and their tummies are happy and settled. This is just a first taste so we suggest midday to do it as you can offer your baby their mid-morning milk at 11am and then their their solid meal between 12 and 12:30pm. If you wanted to opt for the more traditional way of feeding, then a naturally sweet-tasting root vegetable purée with a smooth, lump-free texture is a great place to start.
“You do not necessarily have to choose between baby-led weaning or traditional weaning. In fact, the best approach to take is a flexible one.”
Keep offering them water and watch out for clues that they’ve had enough.
Believe it or not, babies actually have impressive built-in systems for gauging when they’ve had enough food, so follow their cues and let them signal to you when they’re done eating. Common signs include:
– Slowing down and becoming distracted with something else.
– Pushing the food away.
– Closing their mouth and refusing to open it.
– Shaking their head or turning their head away.
Oh, and keep their fluids up! Pausing to take sips of water during meals is key to good, healthy digestion and, of course, staying hydrated.
“Follow their cues and let them signal to you when they’re done eating.”
Get to Know the Recommended Portion Sizes.
When familiarising yourself with portion sizes, it’s best to purchase age-appropriate plates and bowls. Try offering 1-2 pieces of finger food and 1-2 tablespoons of puréed food at meal times, and if baby is showing signs of wanting more, then just give them a little more and don’t worry too much about sticking to set portion suggestions – you know your own baby and it won’t be long until you know exactly how much is the right amount for them. Remember not to overwhelm them by starting off big; this could lead to your baby eating more than is necessary and them feeling uncomfortable as a result.
If your weaning journey hasn’t worked out how you’d hoped it would and your little one isn’t taking to solid foods quite as smoothly as you’d like, just remember that all babies are different. Some will take to it like a duck to water and others will need a little more patience and support. Nothing is permanent and they will get there in the end.
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