It’s National Weaning Week!
The aim of this week is to offer support to families, share information, recipe ideas and tips to make weaning easier and fun! Weaning Week’s mission is to help families feel empowered to wean their child as nutritiously as possible.
The Baby Guru offers lots of support to parents just starting their weaning journey and right through to toddlerhood.
Earlier this week, Sam did an Instagram Live to tackle a few of the questions about weaning & how it can affect your little one’s sleep or routine. Here is a rundown of what was covered…
When & how to start?
The NHS guidelines state that you should start weaning at 6 months. However there are parents who may want to start as early as 4 months. If this is you please make sure you seek medical advice from either a consultant or paediatrician before offering solids to your baby.
From 6 months babies iron stores are running low. It’s important that they start getting this from food, as milk alone will not be enough. You know your baby best – you have had 5-6 months getting to know them, so do what feels right for you. To help, here are the main signs to look out for…
- Holding their head steady and are able to sit up in a highchair
- Able to swallow food, rather than push it back out
- Can co-ordinate their eyes, hands and mouth, so they can pick up food and put it into their mouth
Sam’s Top Tips
- Don’t feel you have to choose between ‘baby led’ or purees. A combination of finger foods and purees can work really well.
- Eat at at the table with your baby and show them how to eat by example – role modelling is really important
- Try not to distract them with tv/ipad – involve them in family meal times
- It’s not unusual for babies to become constipated when first eating solid foods. Their digestive system is getting used to new foods so this may take some time for them to adjust.
- Offering a combination of home cooked meals and pouches when out and about is absolutely fine and can work really well – we are not super mums and sometimes you need some back up!
- Think about introducing a cup with water from 6 months. It will take some time but they will soon get the hang of drinking from this at meal times.
- Try new foods at lunchtime or early in the day so you have time to spot any allergies.
- Mix green leafy foods, which are rich in iron, in with root vegetables – e.g spinach & butternut squash
- Consider taking a baby first aid course. Babies have excellent gag reflexes, so although choking is rare, it will give you peace of mind to be prepared.
- Herbs and spices can be used from 6 months – e.g tiny amounts of chopped parsley, coriander, basil etc are all great to mix in with purees.
Instagram Live questions & answers!
Q: How much puree do I give at first?
A: When first starting out, just give a tiny amount, a teaspoon at a time. Then gradually increase the amounts. Never force them to eat, get them to open their mouth and be excited for food
Do you need to sterilise over 6 months?
No – bowls, spoons and cups can all be cleaned with warm soapy water
bottles will still need to be sterilised until 1 year
Q: What will I need to buy before I start weaning?
A: You don’t need to spend a fortune, but being prepared with the essentials is definitely a good idea.
Bibs – Tidy Tot do great cover & catch bibs which suction onto the highchair tray.
Highchair – In my experience, you cannot beat the Ikea highchair. This one is hugely popular with a lot of parents as it’s so simple and easy to clean. You will be forever wiping it down!
Floor – an old shower curtain or mat to protect the floor
Saucepan with steamer element
Ice cube trays or small pots – perfect for batch cooking & the freezer, these are great for when you are just starting out
Q: My 8 month old is eating lots and breakfast & dinner but less at lunch – should I reduce the 10.30am bottle?
A: Milk is still really important until 1 year. Between 6 months and 1 year – 500ml per day. If by 9-10 months you are struggling to reach the recommended amount of milk and they are not as interested in milk feeds, you can give other forms of dairy – cheese, yogurt, etc all count towards the recommended amount
Over 1 year – 250-180ml
We eat more at one meal than others so I wouldn’t worry too much about it
I always create weaning plans to build solids & milk together
Q: Would you say steaming veg is better than boiling?
A: Yes it is as it retains more nutrients but I wouldn’t worry about this too much. Concentrate on giving a variety of different foods as much as you.
Q: How long should you use single flavours for, before moving to blends?
A: Try them for around 3 days per single flavour and then start to combine flavours, this way you have time to spot any allergies.
Q: If I start to wean before 6 months, will it help my little one sleep?
A: Weaning can help them drop some feeds at night but it’s not the only thing that will effect their sleep. Don’t start weaning early if you think it will make all the difference to sleep because sadly, it won’t! There are other factors to consider – for example, where and how they fall to sleep and how much they are having. If they are being fed, rocked, using a dummy, they will wake in the night and expect need help settling back to sleep. Some gentle sleep coaching can help with self settling.
Q: When to start offering lumpy foods?
A: It’s a gradual process, build it up over the weeks. Be guided by your baby. If they spit it out, gag don’t do it. I have worked with babies as old as 9 months who just cannot take the more lumpy foods – be guided by them
Q: When to start dropping feeds?
Be guided by your little one. If they start fussing during a feed or refusing milk, it may be time to drop it. If they are enjoying their solids and weaning is going well, this is a natural progression. Eventually, around 8-10 months they are usually on 3 feeds a day – wake up, mid afternoon & bedtime. By around 12 months it drops down to just 2 feeds a day – morning & night. The guidelines are, that from 1 year you can offer full fat cows milk as a main drink and alternative to breastmilk or formula.
I hope you find these tips helpful! If there is anything I can help with on a 1-2-1 basis, please get in touch.
Sam, The Baby Guru
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