Getting ready for weaning
How can I tell if my baby is ready?
Every baby is different and you know yours better than anyone else so you should follow your instincts when it comes to weaning. To help a little further, here are some top tips to help you on your journey.
The Department of Health and the World Health Organisation advise weaning at six months. If you are unsure, it is a good idea to have a chat with your health visitor if you feel your baby is ready to wean before six months (remember that babies shouldn't be given solids before 17 weeks). Don’t feel rushed to wean as there is still all the nutrition a baby needs in your breast milk or baby formula.
There are three signs that your baby is ready for solid food:
1) They can sit up unaided and can hold their head steady.
2) Hand-eye coordination is developed so that they can look at food, pick it up and put it in their mouths.
3) They can swallow – young babies have a tongue-thrust reflex which means they instinctively use their tongues to push objects out of their mouths. Until this reflex fades your baby will push any food out of their mouth and will end up with more food on their face than in their tummy.
When you've seen all these signs it means your baby is ready for solid food.
There can also be a few signs that are mistaken for a baby being ready for weaning.
• waking in the night when they had previously been sleeping through.
• wanting extra milk feeds and chewing fists.
Both of these are all normal behaviours and starting solids won't make them any more likely to sleep through the night. Extra milk feeds should help to keep them feeling full up until they're ready for other food.
If you decide to introduce solid foods before six months, you should avoid giving your baby certain foods as they may cause food allergies or make them ill. These are foods that contain wheat, gluten, nuts, peanuts, peanut products, seeds, eggs, shellfish, liver, fish, cows milk and unpasteurized cheese.
At Babease, our recipes are always free from gluten, nuts, peanuts, peanut products, seeds, eggs, shellfish, liver, fish, cows milk and unpasteurised cheese.
What to do when you start to wean
There are two main approaches to weaning:
1) Spoon-led weaning - this is where you spoon feed your baby purees which are very smooth to start with and progress to lumpier textures as they grow.
2) Baby-led weaning - this is where you give your baby chunks of food that they pick up and feed themselves.
You don't need to decide to choose one approach and stick to it, a combination of spoon led and baby led weaning works really well.
What you’ll need
• A highchair, or a booster seat that attaches to an ordinary chair to bring your baby up to table height is essential. When choosing which one to go for, bear in mind that whichever one it is will get very messy, so make sure it's easy to clean!
• Several bibs, the ones with long sleeves are great for protecting your little ones clothes
• A few soft spoons (at least one for you and one for your baby to hold themselves)
• Floor covering, if your flooring isn't 'wipe clean' you'll need something to protect it, such as a plastic 'messy mat' or an old sheet
• Plastic bowls and/or plates
• A blender or sieve to make purees if you're planning to make homemade food for spoon feeding
Ready for action
Follow this simple check list to help get weaning off to the best start:
1) Choose a quiet time when your baby is peckish but not ravenously hungry, they're not overly tired and you're feeling relaxed and calm.
2) Try giving them part of their usual milk feed before you offer solids if you feel they're really hungry.
3) Start small by offering your baby one or two teaspoons of simple food and gradually increase this over the coming days, taking your baby's lead.
4) If your baby simply isn't interested, leave it and try again another day. There really is no need to rush this process and never feel like you need to force your baby to eat. He or she will when the time is right.
5) Don't expect them to eat much at first as this is whole new experience for them.
6) They can pull some amazing faces when they're trying things for the first time but don't be put off, it doesn't mean they're not enjoying their new adventure with food. Just imagine how amazing it must be to taste something for the very first time!
7) Always stay with your baby when they're eating in case they start to choke.
8) Let your baby enjoy touching and holding the food and allow them to feed themselves with their fingers as soon as they show an interest. It’s a great way to encourage a baby to enjoy food and allow them to grow up with a positive relationship with the wonderful world of food.
9) When your baby loses interest in the food or turns their head away from the spoon, it's a sure sign they've had enough and you should call it a day. Try not to feel tempted to keep on feeding because this can actually have a negative effect on your baby’s relationship with food. If your baby really is not eating very much and you are worried, it is always best to consult your health visitor to allay any worries.
10) We also like to recommend that whenever you feed your baby, you also take time to sit down and have a little nibble with them, even if it’s a little rice cake, or even better the same thing as they are eating. It’s a great way to introduce meal times and make eating a family time, creating a fun social atmosphere around food; as it should be!
11) Finally, don’t forget to capture their adorable, food covered faces on camera, and most importantly enjoy this process, it’s another exciting step on your baby’s journey!
Finding your routine
It's a good idea to get into a routine that's convenient for your family, offering food at a similar time each day. After two or three weeks introduce a second feed during the day, followed by a third a few weeks after that. Your baby is getting most of the nutrients they need from their usual milk so don't worry about how much solid food they eat to begin with, they will all get there in the end. Keeping it fun is the most important thing at this stage.