Written by Katie Hilton (Bsc, Msc) – Registered Midwife & Health Visitor
Just when you and your baby are in a great routine with milk feeds, along comes weaning, a whole new adventure for both of you! Weaning is the period of transition from milk to solid foods and usually starts around six months of age. This is an important time for a baby to be introduced to solid food, as they will require additional nutrients, which will not be available in breastmilk or formula.
The Department of Health and World Health Organisation both suggest exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. Providing you are consuming a healthy diet, breastmilk should provide enough energy and nutrition for your baby until they reach this age. Babies under 17 weeks of age are not developmentally ready for weaning and should not be fed anything other than breastmilk or formula.
If your baby is showing signs of readiness including coordinating their hands, eyes and mouth, trying to grab food and put it into their mouth, being able to sit up and hold their head steady and swallowing food.
To help you on your weaning journey we have put together out top 10 tips to ensure success: –
Set the scene = Put a routine in place for mealtimes. Ensure your baby is well supported in a comfortable highchair; they should be able to topple over or wobble around.
Before Wiping = Encourage your little one to lick away any food from around the mouth. This is good way to get your baby’s tongue and mouth working towards swallowing effectively and developing tongue and mouth muscles for talking.
Have Fun = Encourage your baby to have fun and play with food, experiment with mashing, squashing, licking and squeezing. These activities will encourage your baby to taste and enjoy their food and learn new flavours.
Eat Together = Sit with your baby at mealtimes and eat together. Let them share your plate and taste your food. Mealtimes are about being sociable, so talk to your baby about their food.
Two Courses = Offer your baby both a savoury and sweet course. This is a great way to encourage your baby to try a wide range of tastes and textures and provides lots of variety for your baby whilst keeping it interesting.
Trust Mother Nature = The gag reflex is further forwards in babies mouth than in adults. If their food slips towards the back of their mouths they will cough it up. They will do this frequently while learning to eat solid foods. If you are concerned you could consider using a Kidsme Food Feeder. This will encourage your baby to self-feed, whilst also encouraging development of fine motor skills and hand eye o-ordination. It also removes the possibility of choking in a small child.
Lots of Veggies = Let baby enjoy the real taste of vegetables. Don’t mask challenging tastes with easier ones, let your baby enjoy the real taste of veggies without the sweetness of fruit, or they may find them difficult to accept later on. For example, don’t mix broccoli with apple purée.
Continue Milk Feeds = Whichever way you decide to wean, either breastmilk or formula milk should continue alongside solid food as it still provides most of the nutrients your baby needs – as the amount of food your baby eats increases, the amount of milk they take will decrease.
How Much? = Let your baby decide when they’ve had enough, rather than encouraging them to clear their plates. You can offer an extra course of a yogurt or fruit-based pudding to get in a greater range of foods and nutrients.
Don’t Give Up = Try, try and try again! It can take up to 14 attempts before a baby learns to like a new food, especially the more challenging ones, so don’t worry if your little one grimaces or refuses certain foods at first. If you have a fussy baby who is refusing foods consider using a Kidsme Food Feeder, the ability to be independent and self-feed may be the incentive your child needs.
You can visit us at http://www.kidsmeeurope.com/