You hardly had time to realise it, but your little one is already sitting straight and may even seem more interested in your food than in another bottle of milk. That means, it's about time to start weaning - and here we are with all the tips you may need.
Signs your baby may be ready for weaning
It is really important that you start introducing your baby to solids when he is ready for it. Some babies are ready for weaning at about four months, but it's best to do it when the child is over six months.
Some of the sure signs that he is ready for wearing include: if he can sit up straight during his meal, hold up his head easily, and is able to grab food and take it to his mouth without your help.
Your baby must be at least double his birth weight to be able to have semi-solids, which, again, is at about six months.
Finally, of course, your baby must be able to swallow.
An easy way to check is giving him some food and seeing if most of it ends up on his face rather than in his mouth.
Methods for weaning
So, there are the baby-led evangelists who won’t spoon anything into their little one’s mouth – it’s all cubes and batons. Then there are those who prepare endless ice-cube trays of mushed veg. And while lots of parents are somewhere in the middle, trying a mixture of purée and finger foods, many wonder if these two approaches really are the only ways to introduce a baby to solids.
So if you are tired of serving vegetable mush or random crudités to your unimpressed baby, try another way – flavour-led weaning.
When your baby does not eat
Lydia, who runs cooking classes for new mums, alongside her website flavourforbaby.com, researched how parents in other countries wean their babies. It turns out that in France baby rice is practically unheard of. Instead it’s all about encouraging infants to love food. During the first month of weaning, the French introduce their infants to lots of different veg – and they rotate these regularly.
‘The tendency to give children bland food is misguided,’ says nutritionist Hayley Pedrick. ‘One of the preferred flavours for a baby is garlic, yet it’s often considered too strong – this attitude can lead to unadventurous food choices in later life.’
After all, bar a few things (added salt, sugar, honey, whole nuts and fish with high levels of mercury, such as shark and swordfish) there are few limits on what babies can eat. ‘You can give babies a far wider range of home-made food than most people think,’ explains Lydia. ‘The babies in my classes all seem to enjoy pasta, pilau rice, meats such as pork loin, fish and soups. I encourage parents to serve delicious home-made grown-up food, sticking within medical guidelines.’
It might be best not to overload your baby with too many kinds of food when first weaning, but if they don’t have any problems you can quickly broaden their horizons.
So, it’s worth letting your tot be adventurous when you’re weaning, or at least mix it up a little. Not only can it make it more fun, but eating the leftovers is a whole lot more appealing, too...
Three stages of weaning can be roughly distinguished. At first, most children are fed smooth purees between four and six months, to get the nutrients and get familiarised with some new tastes.
For the next three months you may want to start introducing your baby to more lumpy textures so he learns how to chew before moving to more solid foods. Both of these first stages are best when helped with some wisely picked weaning products.
By the age of 10-12 months your baby can have almost all the same that you do, making life much easier by saving you time having to cook separate meals. Just make his portions smaller and make sure it's varied and tailored for him, like it should be at all stages: little salt and sugar and no choking hazards.