Weaning is an exciting time for you and baby. You have the fun of watching your little one experiencing new tastes and textures, along with the strange facial expressions that come with it!
It’s recommended by the NHS that babies should be breastfed or formula-fed exclusively up to the age of six months. At this point, most are ready for weaning on to solid foods, while still continuing to have milk as their main drink up to the age of one. Most babies are ready to try solid food from the age of six months, with clear signs including being able to stay in a sitting position, holding their head steady; co-ordinating their eyes, hands and mouth to be able to look at food, pick it up and put it in their mouths, and swallow it rather than spitting it back out.
Just with any part of your child’s development, some babies wean quicker than others. Here are some tips to help you when it’s time for your little one to begin.
There are some practical things to think about first, such as the equipment you’ll need to have. Bibs (lots of them) are essential… as food will end up everywhere! You’ll also need baby-friendly cutlery – baby weaning spoons are ideal to begin with, as they’re soft and gentler on the gums – and plates and bowls. You can get all kinds of baby feeding items these days, including plates and bowls with suction bottoms to keep them where they should be and not on the floor or your baby’s head! And, of course, you’ll be needing a high chair.
Good foods, to begin with, are pureed, mashed or soft cooked fruit and veg. Things like carrot, potato, sweet potato, apple and pear. All must be cooled before eating. You could also try baby rice or baby cereal mixed with your baby’s usual milk. Babies also love finger food – soft, yummy options like chopped up peach, melon, banana and avocado are a good idea.
The social aspect of weaning your baby is also something the whole family can embrace. Eating is a social thing, so try and sit down together to eat as much as you possibly can. Even before you start to wean you can sit them with you and give them a soft weaning spoon to hold and get used to. Babies tend to copy their parents and other children, so they’ll soon want to join in when they see you all enjoying your food!
There are some safety aspects to consider when you’re weaning your baby too. Babies can choke easily, so cut food like grapes and cherry tomatoes into small pieces, remove hard pips and stones from fruit and make sure all bones are removed from any meat or fish. Some foods should be avoided with young children, its best to seek advice from your midwife or GP before you start weaning your baby.
And lastly, enjoy! Enjoy the new chapter in your baby’s life, enjoy the experimenting and enjoy the mess!