Weaning is when your baby starts to move from breast milk or formula to solids. However, weaning can be challenging for some parents. Here is some advice for introducing solid foods to your baby. Do remember, however, that you should follow your doctor, health visitor or pediatricians advice if you're in doubt.
First solids - When?
The Department of health recommends that you do not start to wean or introduce solids to your baby before the age of six months. Before the age of six months your baby doesn't produce the enzymes necessary to digest food properly. You may also risk damaging their immature kidneys. You also risk your baby developing problems with allergies and obesity later in life more complex foods are given too early on. However, our health visitors, and others we have heard about, all say that anytime between 4 and 6 months is OK, so what is correct? If you feel your child is ready then discuss it with your health visitor. We started our first child at 4 months when she started waking in the night again after she'd been sleeping through for several weeks.
Weaning - The signs
The signs that your baby is ready to start weaning can be as simple as he / she waking in the night requesting feeds when previously they had been sleeping through the night.
Most experts advise that the first 'solids' that a baby should be weaned on is some form of baby rice. Ideally this should be made with breast milk or formula. Do not use cows or goats milk as although it is very good for adults it does not contain enough vitamins and minerals for a developing baby.
Baby eats what you eat
We started weaning both our daughters on pureed versions of what we ate right from the beginning. Our general approach has been to give them a wide mixture of different foods. This does not mean feeding them crisps, chocolate and lager - that can wait until they're a teenager.
I don't have time to cook
A sensible approach is to cook the food for the whole family except without any salt our strong spices (you can add salt to your food as a condiment) and do extra so that you can freeze multiple portions of it for micro waving later.
What about jars or tins of food?
Would you eat them? To me, the savoury ones smell of sick, look disgusting and are mainly water. Kids eat them though. We have used them, but only when we went out for lunch. The pudding jars aren't as bad as they are mainly fruit puree, which our daughter loved. Start your child with real foods - even if you don't eat them yourselves.
Fruit or vegetables
Initially, weaning them on pureed fruit or vegetables is ok. Don't be afraid or strong flavored foods such as broccoli as they will probably develop a taste for it. Persevere. Pureed carrot or banana is a particular favorite. Most 'experts' say to give them single food items at a time, so you can work out what they like or are allergic too. That's OK at this stage,when all they are eating is fruit or vegetables but once they start eating puree's of your own meals then it becomes unrealistic to assume that everything will be separated out. If they really don't like it, a child will not be subtle about letting you know - they'll spit it out or projectile vomit it across the kitchen and then carry on eating as though nothing had happened.
Courser foods including meats
Between the ages of 6-9 months pureed meats (chicken, beef, lamb) and fish can be introduced into your child's diet. Also cheese, broken hard boiled egg and uncooked soft fresh fruit and vegetables (but of course thoroughly washed - even if its in a bag from the supermarket)
Textured foods and offal
Yum...offal. It was between 9 and 12 months that we learnt our daughter, like myself, is allergic to liver. Is that how they make tinned baby food? Probably not. Sort of wasted the 8 pots of liver and onion that my wife was freezing for future use. Any takers? Cereals, pasta and textured foods such as rice pudding or crushed potato can be given.
A juicy steak?
Well not quite but over the age of one your child should be eating chopped up versions of whatever you are eating (and if you eat crap - stop and think of you child's health). Remember to add the salt to you plate and not during the cooking process.
Salt or sauce anyone?
There can be a huge amount of salt in gravy. So beware, if you have used a commercial gravy powder please don't give any to your child. Sauces also can contain many artificial additives (some of which have tenuous links to attention disorders in children) and lots of sugar.
Foods to avoid at anytime
- Nuts, especially peanuts
- High fibre foods
- Caffienated drinks
- Low fat anything e.g. semi skimmed milk, they need fat!
- Raw eggs
After 6 months
- Hard boiled eggs
- Cereals such as Weetabix or Ready Brek
- Gluten containing foods such as bread, pasta or pastry
After one year
- Cows milk
As a final note - remember you must always consult your doctor or health visitor before beginning weaning your child. They will have access to the latest research and information about what is best for your child plus years of experience helping parents, so listen to them.
Weaning By Jonathan Pearson (Father of 2, with no more on the way)
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"my baby was sick on baby milk the health visitor said put him on cows milk he is 7 months he has not been sick since."