The prospect of weaning can be a daunting one. Advice on when to start, when to know if your baby is ready, or whether to go with baby led v’s traditional weaning, can leave parents feeling like they are light years behind, before they have even begun!
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So, we have teamed up with the wonderful team at Babease to pull together everything you need to know about weaning. From start to finish.
Once you have established that your baby is ready to start weaning (if you are unsure check out our Top 3 signs that your baby is ready to start weaning here, the next question is how do you start?
Do not panic, we are here, with all you need to know to get you on your way.
- Check that your baby is ready to start weaning
We know this might seem like a no brainer but you will be surprised at how many parents get to the 6 month stage and think “Right everyone else is weaning, I need to get cracking” only to find that their little one is not quite ready yet.
If you start and you find that it really isn’t working, don’t panic, pack away the ice cube trays until you feel like the time is right. Weaning when they are ready is the key to a successful weaning programme. Which ever option you go for it is important to keep first foods simple and in small quantities, as these will be in addition to milk feeds, not instead of.
- Baby led weaning v’s Traditional weaning
On the whole there are two ways to approach the weaning journey and the first decision to make is which journey you would like to embark on.
Below is a brief outline of each method to help you decide what is right for you.
Baby Led Weaning:
Put simply, this means letting your child feed themselves. When they start to show an interest in food rather than pureeing and mushing you simply hand them appropriate sized pieces of the food you feel is appropriate for them, the theory being that if they like it, they will eat it and if they don’t, it will probably end up on you, or the floor!
So, no ice cube trays, no baby rice, no pouches, no fruit and vege combos. Just pieces of food that you and your family enjoy eating.
It is, of course, very important with baby led weaning that you stay with your baby while they are eating, to ensure that they are not at risk of choking. Also, remember, some babies will refuse certain foods multiple times before eventually deciding they like them, so patience is key!
Traditional weaning usually recommends that you begin with some baby rice mixed into the formula and this is then followed up with pureed fruit and vegetables so that babies can explore new tastes. Remember that babies do not need 3 meals a day! The weaning process is complementary to the milk feeds not instead of. The key is to introduce them to new tastes and flavours and get them excited about food.
- Explore the Fruit V’s Veggies debate
Knowing what first tastes to give your baby can be very confusing. Most people adopt a weaning programme from one of the myriad available to parents. A majority of these will include fruit as a first taste, often the first taste a baby has is some sweet apple or banana. While of course fruit is a great thing for kids to have, there is a belief that introducing the palate of a baby to sweet as opposed to savoury at this early stage can mean that they become more prone to only enjoying sweet tastes and rejecting savoury as they grow through childhood.
Your little one’s palate is like a blank canvas and is easily shaped by each new taste experience. During the first year of life babies are receptive to all five basic tastes to differing degrees, preferring those that are sweet or salty.
We have been working with Babease who are the first to offer a vegetable led weaning programme. Babease firmly believe that when you start to introduce solid foods, it is important to start with vegetables, in as much variety, as you can manage. Studies have shown that babies who eat a wide variety of vegetables during the weaning process go on to eat more vegetables in later childhood (up to 7 years) than those that don’t. At the same time, this avoids the sugar found naturally in fruit.
So do a bit of research and see which option works for you!
- What drinks should you offer
Apart from breast milk or formula, water is the best drink to offer your baby. Offer water with meals and try to introduce a cup from around 6 months. Using an open cup or free flow cup will help your baby learn to sip and is better for their teeth, not to mention it can help reduce wind by reducing the amount of air that they swallow.
It is probably best to offer the water at the end of the meal so that they don’t fill up with water before they get their fill of food
- Enjoy it!
The more stressed you are about weaning the more stressful weaning becomes! Give in to the mess. Don’t panic if they don’t eat what you have lovingly created first time round, they will do one day! And most of all enjoy it, there is nothing better than seeing a gummy smile covered in puree!