How To Wean Your Baby

Many parents look forward to the beginning of the weaning process with both trepidation and excitement. Although it can sometimes seem like a daunting prospect, introducing your baby to solids can be a highly enjoyable experience for both of you.

baby in high chair eating pureeWhen should I introduce my baby to solids?

The department of health recommend waiting until 6 months before beginning to introduce your baby to solids. Research has shown that earlier weaning can increase the risk of infection or a bad reaction to certain foods. Babies under four months in particular do not require any other form of nourishment above what they receive from their usual breast or formula milk.

However, no one knows your baby better than you and you should trust your own judgement when deciding whether it is time to introduce solids. Common signs that your baby may be ready include:

  • Sitting with little or no support
  • Grabbing and mouthing toys or fist sucking
  • Making chewing motions
  • Showing an active interest in food
  • Reaching for food when others are eating
  • Increased intake of milk at around 6 months, which is not caused by illness, teething pain or a routine change, and lasts for more than 4 or 5 days

How should I introduce solids?

The best time to give your baby their first solid meal is when they are well rested and in a good mood. Never try to introduce solids when you are in a hurry or if your baby is unsettled. Weaning should be a pleasant and positive experience for your baby, so wait until you are both feeling relaxed before you begin.

Start by giving your baby a quick breast- or bottle-feed so that they are not too hungry. Very hungry babies are likely to become frustrated with anything other than their usual milk feed. Sit your baby in an upright position and use a soft-tipped spoon to avoid damaging delicate gums. Make sure that you are not pushing the spoon into your baby's mouth, but merely placing it near his lips so that he can choose whether or not to take in the food. And don't be tempted to add solid food to your baby's bottle -- this will not help him to adjust to eating solid foods in the normal way.

What should I feed my baby?

Baby rice mixed with your baby's usual milk is a popular first weaning food as it is highly unlikely to cause a negative digestive reaction. Once you have offered baby rice for 3 days, you can then slowly introduce other simple purees one at a time. Remember to keep a eye out for any signs of intolerance or allergic reaction when introducing new foods, such as a upset stomach or swelling. If you do notice a reaction, contact your GP or health visitor for advice.

Good first purees that are the least likely to cause a reaction include:

  • Pear
  • Banana
  • Butternut squash
  • Sweet potato
  • Avacado

If your baby refuses to eat certain foods or even anything at all, don't try to force him. Wait a week or so and then try again. Your baby may never develop a taste for sweet potato, or he may eventually end up loving it. While it can be soul destroying to scoop your lovingly prepared purees into the bin, every person has their own unique food preferences and your baby will need lots time to develop his own likes and dislikes.

Check out these great baby food recipes:

Homemade baby foods

Preparing home-made baby food is simple and far more nutritious than store bought baby food. A hands-on workshop like Mommy Chef, teaches mums how to make healthy organic meals for their babies with the guidance of a registered nutritionist.

Tags: baby finger foods baby food introducing solids weaning

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