So you want to start introducing your little one to the wonderful world of food…but where do you start? Our baby weaning guide has everything you need to know.
Just when you think you’re getting into your parenting stride, your baby hits a new milestone and things change virtually overnight. By the time they reach six months they’re ready to be introduced to solid food. Before this, their digestive tract is not mature enough to process more than breast milk or formula – which they will still need for at least another six months – so don’t feel you have to rush the process just because jars of baby food say they’re suitable from four months.
You can tell your baby is ready to wean when they want to be fed more often, are capable of sitting and holding their head up without support, and have the coordination to pick something up and put it in their mouths.
First Foods for a Baby
Many parents start with baby rice. Other parents bypass this and go straight to pureed vegetables and fruit. Some experts recommend introducing vegetables before fruit, as they contain less sugar which can damage baby teeth even before they come through the gums. Pureed butternut squash, carrot, potato, cauliflower, parsnip, courgette and sweet potato are all good choices. Move on to mashed banana and avocado (being careful to get all lumps out), and cooked and pureed apple or pear.
Choose a meal time when your baby is relaxed and content. Check the temperature of the food on the inside of your wrist and offer them a little on a soft spoon, adding a dash of their normal milk if you think it’s too thick. Be prepared for it to be spat out! This doesn’t mean your baby doesn’t like it, just that they are moving it around their mouth to get used to the new sensation. At this stage, a few mouthfuls of solids once or twice a day is plenty.
Food for Older Babies
By seven months, your baby will be comfortable having solids at two or three meals a day. These can now include small amounts of pureed meat, lentils, and fish, as well as baby breadsticks or rusks, and porridge. By ten months, babies are normally able to cope with lumpier food, so swap pureeing for chopping and mincing, making sure that they are still getting around a pint of milk a day.
Foods to Avoid When Weaning
Foods to avoid giving to any child under a year old include nuts, salt, honey, sugar or artificial sweetener, tea, coffee, soft cheeses, runny eggs, and low fat foods. Introduce one new food to your baby at a time so you can see if they suffer any allergic reactions, especially if they have eczema or asthma.
Don’t worry if it doesn’t go as smoothly as you hope, and remember to contact your Health Visitor if you have any concerns.