Top Tips for Weaning Your Baby
By Lucy-Ann Prideaux
Weaning can be one of the most exciting times for a Mum, and of course for baby too! New tastes, new sensations and new expressions… you will begin to appreciate the saying, “Variety is the spice of life!”
However it can be a little stressful, and there is no doubt that if you want your baby to have the best possible and most nutritious start in life – you DO have to be organised. SO…
My Top Tips
1 – Think a day ahead!
2 – Keep a diary – this is vital to monitor food reactions, baby’s mood which may be linked to upsets in blood sugar levels, and of course it will be something to refer to years down the line or for when number 2 comes along!
3 – Introduce ONE food at a time. This is important to note down any unusual reactions (especially if there are signs of allergy or a history of allergy in the family).
4 – When you are introducing any new food to your baby, leave 3 days before starting any new foods. Signs of an allergic reaction include sneezing, runny nose, diarrhoea, vomiting, a rash, or ear infection.
5 – Rotate foods from day to day as much as possible.
6 – Be patient – mealtimes shouldn’t be rushed. Your baby will decide when he-she is full.
7 – Persevere with a food, if at first your baby doesn’t seem to like it. Try it again the next day, or in a few days or weeks.
8 – Try not to worry too much during the weaning process!
9 – When you are “out and about” the best foods to carry with you are bananas and ripe avocados. Both can be mashed together easily and will be tasty, nutritious and satisfying for your baby!
10 – If your baby gets a little constipated when you first introduce solids… don’t panic. It may take a while for the bowels to “wake-up” to solid food. Try giving kiwi fruit!
When a baby reaches the age of 6 months (usually having doubled his or her birth weight), the energy (calorie) requirements as well as the requirements for nutrients such as protein, iron (see below), selenium, zinc, vitamin A and D, & essential fatty acids, exceeds that which can be supplied by mother’s breast milk. Breast or quality follow-on milk should ideally be carried on until the age of one at least. DO NOT give cow’s milk to a baby until they are AT LEAST one year old. Some believe it should be nearer to 2 years old – I would say definitely 2 if there is any history of allergy in the family.
Build up foods over the next 4 months “loosely” in the following order…
Vegetables and fruits – see note below but generally enjoy introducing a whole variety! Fruits are easy to introduce as babies love the sweetness, and of course they learn what NATURAL sweetness is. Avoid fruit juices. Fruits also mix well with veggies, but try not to rely too heavily on fruit, just because you think your baby is more likely to want something sweet! Just watch some fruits with large pips such as raspberries – kiwis should be fine. Frozen fruits and veg such as peas are fine for your baby and can be very handy to use!
Pulses and beans – well cooked and well blended – try chickpeas, white beans, and puy lentils. These mash well and combine with savoury or sweet ingredients and add bulk to satisfy.
Cooked brown rice, quinoa, millet and tapioca – homemade porridges or purees using these grains are superior to shop-bought baby rice. If you need to use baby rice, make sure you buy organic and one that is FREE of fillers, e.g. Organix.
Lamb, poultry, and fish (especially oily fish such as wild trout and sea bass which have the lowest PCB and mercury levels) – introduce in small quantities at first, concentrating on organic meats if possible. You may find after introducing meat such as lamb or chicken, your baby’s mood and energy levels will soar!
At 6-9 months, iron requirements are thought to be 7-8mg/day.
To give you an idea of how to reach this, mix and match the following foods that are good sources of iron…
Concentrate on vegetables as much as fruits in the first few weeks if you can. Try the “sweeter” veggies such as carrot, parsnip, peas, and sweet potato, butternut squash, asparagus, cauliflower and broccoli
Shop seasonally and locally whenever you can. Don’t avoid introducing a food that you don’t like or didn’t like as a child! Remember, with a baby – you are starting with clean palate, and NO understanding or experience of likes and dislikes. SO go ahead with Brussels sprouts, broccoli, pumpkin, leeks, swede or mushrooms – they may well surprise you! ALL these veggies are fantastically healthy in their own right!
It is generally advisable to avoid the “deadly nightshade family” of vegetables as they contain substances that a baby may be sensitive to. These include aubergines, tomatoes, potatoes and peppers. Wait until the first year is up!
After introducing these as single foods, try these “mashed” or “pureed” combinations…
Other foods that will form your baby’s “diet”…
Suitably fortified foods – e.g Nanny Goat’s milk, organic baby rice, cooked brown rice, tapioca, millet and quinoa porridge. These cereals have very low allergenic potential, as well as being excellent sources of protein and carbohydrate – see above.
* Spinach is a good source of iron (as well as calcium and vitamin A), but is best left until the baby is 1 year old.
Blue-green algae and spirulina are green “superfoods” widely available in supplement form, and are useful additions for vegan/vegetarian babies, “atopic” babies, especially those not being introduced to cereals of any sorts until the ages of 1-2 years.
(N.B 10g of dried spirulina provides nearly 3mg of iron).
For these babies, the best cereals to begin introducing are millet and quinoa, highly nutritious, gluten-free and excellent sources of protein and iron. Both can be cooked and served as porridge, with interesting additions, such as banana or papaya.
How much food should I give?
The following is a guide to the first 3 months of weaning – e.g. from 6-9 months of age.
Weeks 1 and 2 – Try 1-2 teaspoons during the lunchtime feed, halfway through the breast or bottle-feed.
Weeks 3 and 4 – As above + 1-2 teaspoons at breakfast halfway through bottle or breast feed. Increase lunchtime feed to 3-4 teaspoons.
Weeks 5 and 6 – 1-2 tsp at breakfast. Introduce 2 courses at lunchtime with 5-6 tsp, and introduce a teatime feed of 2-3 tsp.
Weeks 7 and 8 – As above + offer solids FIRST at lunchtime feed and then top-up with milk.
Weeks 9 and 10 – As above + solids only for lunch + water from a beaker – offer solids FIRST at teatime.
Weeks 11 and 12 – Solids only for lunch and tea. Give a beaker of water after lunch and tea.
Lucy-Ann Prideaux MSc BSc RNutr
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