We love food – it doesn’t matter whether it’s fine dining, a cheeky takeaway or half a chocolate bar that’s been collecting condensation at the back of the fridge for three months. We’re not the only ones who like to eat though; baby does too.
As any parent knows, keeping up to baby’s food needs is a full time job; more consuming than the time we craved dill pickles covered in peanut butter. Once you’ve got past the breast/bottle debate, the next obstacle to healthy eating is weaning.
- Different children are ready for weaning at different times, but the general consensus from parenting experts is that you shouldn’t start trying to get your child onto solids until they are at least six months. This gives their little digestive systems time to prepare for solid foods.
- Starting too soon can lead to complications with digestion or certain food-related anxieties so it’s better to wait, that way you’re not making things harder on them or yourselves.
- They’re still getting enough nutrition from breast milk or formula so really, you’re just getting them used to the idea of eating and swallowing. It’s not about giving them three square meals a day.
- Pick a time that isn’t pressured for you or baby – you both need to be relaxed for this to work so don’t rush it, if they’re not ready they’ll let you know, give it another couple of weeks and try again.
What are the signs?
There are several signs that your little one is ready; keep an eye out for these clear indicators.
- They can sit up unaided and hold their head steady
- They bring their hands and objects to their mouths and attempt to chew
- They can swallow – if they push food back out it’s because they’re not ready yet, so try again another time.
There are certain signs that are often misinterpreted as baby being ready, including; chewing their fists, needing extra feeds and waking in the night when previously they’ve slept through.
First things first, as with any fine dining, it’s all about the crockery. This Skip Hop Table Top Monkey Set should add an air of sophistication to the proceedings.
When you’re getting baby started you might want to start with smooth pureed food. You could start with root vegetables or fresh fruit; mashing them down until their very fine is a good way to do it as it can be easier for tiny mouths to handle smaller lumps.
Other great options include baby rice, which can be made by mixing the powdered rice with breast milk or formula to create a simple and easy to eat meal for your little one. It’s also hypoallergenic so shouldn’t cause too many problems, and it’s plain tasting which won’t win it any culinary awards, but should ensure that baby has no objections to it. These Vital Baby Weaning Spoons are designed for weaning babies and work a treat.
One thing which helps get your little one used to food is letting them play with it – babies eat with their hands first, then their mouths. Giving your little one finger food is a great chance to get them used to putting food in their mouths and chewing. Warning: there will be mess, so these Brother Max Catch and Fold Bibs are really handy. Here’s a list of some soft foods which are nice to start baby off with.
- Soft fruits
- Sweet potato puree
- Mashed bananas
- Butternut Squash Puree
Kids love eating all manner of dairy goodies, so it’s best to start them off with full-fat yoghurts, custard and fromage frais. Also, start introducing a drink to their meals – cow’s milk is still a little strong for them so stick with water. This Vital Free Flow Cup will help them get to grips with sipping.
From 8-9 months
You’ll now start to move your little one on to eating three meals a day, again if they don’t seem keen there’s no need to force it, but eventually their meal times should become quite set, like yours.
Making sure their diet has the right balance is key in these formative weeks, so make sure they’re still enjoying a healthy mix. Fruits, vegetables, bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, eggs, fish, meat and dairy products are all great choices.
By this stage your little one will be eating three full meals a day, plus snacks. Make sure you’re still chopping the food into small pieces if baby needs it, and try to keep the snacks healthy – toast, fruit, vegetable sticks and child friendly biscuits.
They can now start drinking cow’s milk, which means you can finally put the formula or breast pump away and crack open a carton. Full fat milk is best as it provides the right amount of vitamins and fat for their diet. You can move them onto Semi-Skimmed by the time they turn 2.
And there you have it. Weaning made easy. Well, not quite easy, but hopefully that helps shine a light on what can be a long process. The best thing to remember is that each child is different and yours will let you know when they’re ready. Don’t rush it, let them come to it when they want, after all – you love food, it’s only right that they do too.
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