This week I highlight some tips on how best to wean your baby from milk to solids.
Weaning, like many areas of parenting, has become quite controversial, and the guidelines around when to start weaning seem to change quite frequently.
The current NHS advice is to start weaning at six months, which I support. Before this time your baby’s gut and immune system is not mature enough to cope with the introduction of new foods; and weaning too early could mean that your baby is more susceptible to food allergies and digestive disorders in later life.
Is my baby ready?
Take your lead from your baby: if they start to show an interest in food, by grabbing for your food, or they show signs of increased hunger (disturbed sleep pattern; crying before you feel a feed is due; demanding more milk) they may be ready for solids.
When you first start to introduce solids, remember that your baby will still be getting more than 95% of its nutrition from milk. The first few weeks are purely about experimentation. Your baby will be getting used to the sensation of something other than milk in its mouth, and learning how to swallow. Don’t expect them to be wolfing purees down from day one.
What to introduce and when?
Babies’ first foods should be fruit and vegetables, and single grain cereals such as baby rice – all their other nutritional needs will be met by milk, whether breast or formula. Ideal choices are apple, pear, carrots, parsnips, broccoli, banana, papaya.
Introduce one food at time, so that you can monitor any reaction that your baby might have to a specific food. If you are an atopic family (where one or both parents, or any siblings, suffer with eczema, asthma, hayfever or allergies) then this is especially important. You may want to consider keeping a food diary to keep track of any reactions to each new food.
Leave a couple of days between the introduction of new foods – again so that you can monitor any potential reaction.
Once your baby is used to fruit and vegetable purees you can introduce the following foods in the early months:
|All vegetables (except tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, potatoes)||All fruits (except citrus)|
|Pulses and beans||Rice, quinoa, millet, buckwheat|
Aim to give your baby green vegetables on a daily basis to provide a good intake of B vitamins, calcium, magnesium and iron.
Wait until your baby is 9 months old before introducing the following foods:
|Meat and poultry||Oats, corn, barley, rye|
|Live yoghurt||Tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, potatoes|
And wait until your baby is 12 months old before introducing these foods (as these are foods which are most likely to cause an allergy):
|Citrus Fruit (oranges, grapefruits, lemons etc)||Wheat (bread, pasta, noodles, biscuits, cakes)|
|Dairy products incl cow’s milk||Nuts and seeds|
What about milk?
Up to the age of 12 months you should still be giving your baby three milk feeds a day (breast or formula milk), in between meals. By the age of one, unless there is an allergy or intolerance, you can switch your baby to fresh cow’s milk, if you wish.
Baby led weaning
Much attention has been given to baby led weaning in the past few years. As mothers are being encouraged to wait until babies are six months old before introducing solids, their babies are now sitting up in high chairs, with full control of their necks, able to feed themselves, so the argument is : “Why bother with purees?”. Instead babies are offered appropriately sized bits of whole foods to feed themselves with at the speed they want. The approach was developed by Gill Rapley, and she has written a book “Baby-led weaning” which explains the benefits. There are also some great websites to look at which advocate this approach: www.babyledweaning.com and www.baby-led.com (this website has a downloadable leaflet which tells you all you need to know about this approach).
Later this week I will post some great weaning recipes so keep checking the site. If you would like a one to one consultation for either yourself or your child please call me Emily Fawell DipION, Nutritional Therapist on 07967 639347 or contact me via email Emily@4wellpeople.co.uk. Read more about nutritional therapy or 4Well People.