Weaning: 7 things to consider before moving on to solids
For the first six months of life, your growing baby’s nutritional needs are met with breastmilk or formula. After that, it’s time to introduce your little prince or princess to solid foods.
And while it can be a bit daunting to get started, there are tips and tricks to make that transition that bit easier.
Here are seven key things to consider...
Experts warn introducing solids too early or too late can increase your baby’s chance of developing health issues such as coeliac disease or type 1 diabetes later in life. Stay within the guidelines and your instinct as a mum is usually right; you’ll know by baby’s appetite and behaviours that they’re ready to try something new.
Before your baby reaches 17 weeks old, their digestive system can’t cope with diverse foods as their gut and kidneys haven’t developed sufficiently. Weaning too early can lead to the development of allergies, like asthma and eczema.
After 26 -30 weeks, milk on its own (breast or formula) doesn’t provide enough sustenance for your rapidly developing child. Their growing brain and body need more iron and nutrients, so it’s time to expand their diet to meet those needs.
Babies ready for solids often make chewing motions as they watch you eat, or try to grab something from your plate if they can reach it. They may be cranky after their bottle is gone or greedily follow food with their eyes.
The first few times you put solids on front of the baby, it’s going to be pretty messy and you’ll wonder if anything went into their mouth. Don’t panic – the initial introduction is to get baby used to new tastes, sensations and textures. You may both end up wearing a lot of the first few meals!
Spoon feeding is the obvious way to let baby try solids, but baby-led weaning allows them to pick up finger-foods and feed themselves. Every baby is different and use whichever method- or combination- works for you.
For the first stage of weaning, steam and mash root vegetables like carrots; parsnips and butternut squash. Stewed apple and pear go down well, or mashed banana. As time goes on you can move to stage two; introducing protein like fish, meat and chicken.
It’s great fun to watch your little one’s face as they discover new tastes. Expect a bit of trial and error, and allow plenty of time for meals – give fresh, nutritious foods for a happy, healthy baby.
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