Could this be one of the most exciting milestones so far! Introducing your little one to the wonderful world of food, flavour and your child’s very first tastes. But I understand how this maybe a daunting time for a new mum. You may wonder when and where do you start? We are here to explain a little bit more about weaning and give you some top tips, beginning with your child’s very first spoonful.
The department of health recommends weaning starts around 6 months of age but every child is different. If you think your little one is ready earlier talk to your health visitor.
The signs that may show you your baby is ready to wean are –
1.Your child can sit up and hold their head steady.
2.Your child takes a fascination in your food and may try to take it from you.
3.Your child is able to pick up things and bring it to their mouth.
4. Your child has control over the food in his mouth and is able to swallow safely.
The kit –
Keep it simple. You do not need to spend a lot of money on fancy gadgets. I recommend some saucepans or a steamer, a hand held blender and some ice cube trays and freezer bags for making home cooked puree’s. Plenty of bibs (preferably some soft cloth ones which can be easily washed) a highchair, some plastic bowls and weaning spoons, wipes or a warm flannel, plus a splash mat to go under the highchair for the mess, did we mention the mess?
How to wean –
There are two approaches to weaning. Spoon fed weaning, where you purée foods to a smooth texture and then gradually move on to more lumpier textures. Or baby led weaning (BLW) where you offer a range of finger foods or mashed foods for your baby to pick up which encourages more independent feeding. Or you could do a combination of both.
In my experience I found spoon feeding very simple. It doesn’t have to be time consuming. You can batch cook large quantities and fill ice cube trays with different vegetables and fruits. These can then be easily stored in the freezer, taken out, left to thaw and heated when needed. Supplying you with a variety of tasty flavours each day. It’s much cheaper and far more nutritious to cook fresh food with the added reassurance you know exactly what your child is eating.
We spoke to Jayne, mother of Jacob who decided to spoon feed, She found it easy and liked the idea that she knew exactly how much her little one was eating. However mother Hazel, decided to choose the popular baby led way to wean her second child, daughter Ana. After spoon feeding her first child she found BLW pretty straightforward as she didn’t have to prepare different meals for the family (just remember not to add salt until after your baby’s portion has been served). Also, as Ana was able to feed herself, mealtimes were much more social. Even going to restaurants was easy as Hazel could simply order something from the menu for the entire family. Her only concern was the choking aspect, but she discovered through research and talking to other mums who have also BLW that because the gag reflex is so sensitive, it is designed to help children stop choking. Gagging is actually useful to help children chew and swallow. Knowing the differences between gagging and choking should help you feel more at ease about this method. However always ensure foods such as grapes and tomatoes are cut into much, smaller pieces and never given whole. Also avoid giving hard or raw vegetables. Vegetables such as carrots and broccoli should be cooked until soft and offered as a small ‘baton’ about the size of your babies finger so that your baby can hold it in their fist and never leave a baby alone in their high chair while eating.
The first foods to introduce –
First foods should be simple. A variety of vegetables and fruits like carrot, broccoli and pear are very popular to begin with and are easy to digest. Introduce one flavour at a time, every couple of days. Keep a daily diary, this way you can note how your child reacted to each new food you introduced and it will help determine any allergies. Over time you can then combine two or three flavours together to make little meals. It is believed by encouraging your child to eat a range of foods and textures from a young age they will go on to form great adventurous taste buds and healthy eating habits for life.
Food is fun –
Make food fun and playful. Your child will love to squish the different textures, scoop them up with their hands and when they have had enough throw them on the floor! Embrace the mess and let your little one enjoy this sensory experience. They make make strange, funny, facial expressions or even refuse certain foods, but do not be put off, persevere and keep offering and they will soon get the hang of it. Also encourage them, children are very receptive and can pick up on your facial expressions and your likes and dislikes. So be positive and relaxed towards food. The early stages are all about exploring and tasting and not about how much they are eating. Until the age of one, your baby will be getting most of their nutrients from their milk.
So if you and you’re baby are ready, what are you waiting for? If you still would like some help we offer various packages where we can advise on the first foods to introduce, portion size, recipe and meal planning.