So, your baby ready to start weaning? How exciting!! ⠀⠀
Introducing your baby to solid food, should start when your baby is around 6 months old and showing all the signs of readiness. These include – ⠀⠀
– Baby can stay in a sitting position and hold their head steady. ⠀⠀
– Baby can co-ordinate their eyes, hands and mouth so they can look at food, and pick it up to their mouth. ⠀⠀
– Baby can swallow food (rather than spit it back out). ⠀⠀ ⠀
If your little one is chewing their fists, waking more in the night and wanting extra milk, these aren’t’t necessarily signs that baby is ready for solid food, but more perfectly normal behavioural traits in babies. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
What food to start with?
From the beginning of weaning, start with only vegetables for a week or so, once a day. By starting with only vegetables, focusing on bitter green veg, this allows baby to get a head start with getting used to this contrast flavours. This in turn helps them to learn to love these flavours and avoid fussy tendencies as they grow older. Remember, it’s important to continue to serve these veggies on a regular basis once other foods are introduced.
What time of day?
When you start to wean, baby will only need a small amount of food in between their milk feeds. Choose a time in the day when they are well rested, not tired, too hungry or too full from their last milk feed, this will give them the best opportunity to be open to trying this new experience. Don’t worry if that time isn’t a “traditional”. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner time let your baby’s schedule guide you here, and you can adjust it as the weeks go by.
Finger food or puree –
From the beginning of weaning you have three choices, to serve solid food to baby puréed or very soft steamed veg served in finger strips. And you can also offer a mixture of both to get the best of both worlds. Serving finger foods allows little one to gain independence, develop their chewing skills, and the dexterity skills. Whilst spoon feeding allows you to help your little one eat more food and is a more gradual route to eating solid food. However, if you do both, serving mashed carrot alongside a steamed carrot stick, allows baby to explore the same taste in a variety of textures, developing their skills further.
When serving finger foods in those first few weeks, you want the veg to mush easily between your thumb and forefinger. Then cut the food into a rough finger shape, using your forefinger a general guide, but no need to get the ruler out, just a rough estimation is fine. This is purely to assist your little one to hold the food easily. Find more information on how to serve food to baby here. (Link to how to serve page).
My top tips for weaning baby: ⠀⠀
• If possible, try to eat the same food with baby, modelling how you are eating so babe learns from you. ⠀⠀⠀
• Be patient and calm, go at baby’s pace. If they become distressed stop the meal and try again later or the next day. ⠀⠀
• Allow baby to use their hands as much as possible, if spoon feeding, let baby hold a preloaded spoon. ⠀⠀
• Also, if possible, always feed baby in a highchair at the dining table, so when baby goes in this chair, they know it’s eating time. ⠀
Don’t worry about the quantity of food baby is eating, at these early stages, it’s all about exposing them to new tastes and textures, allowing baby to learn to chew and swallow. They’ll still be getting most of their nutrients from their breast or formula milk.
Next steps –
Once your little one has been trying veggies for a week or so, and you feel like they are ready to try something different, you can now introduce soft ripe fruit into the mix, along with all of the recipes which Rebecca creates, eating together as a family to help your little one develop this eating skill. Try to build baby’s meals in a balanced way, offering a little carbohydrate, protein, dairy, healthy fats and lots of fruit and veg.
How many meals?
As time goes by, your little one may start to show signs that they are ready to have more food in the day, so gradually increase the number of meals they are having. As a rough guide, 1 meal at 6 months, 2 meals at 7 months, and by the time baby is around 8-10 months they will probably be on 3 meals a day.
Will my baby’s milk intake change?
As your baby starts to eat more solid food, you may notice that their appetite for their breast or formula milk decreases during the day. It is very normal for a baby of around 7-9 months to want to drop their mid-morning or mid afternoon milk feed, and quite possibly by the time they are 1 year old they will just be having their morning, bedtime and any nighttime milk feeds. Let baby take the lead on this and reduce the milk as and when you feel baby is ready.