Before we get into recipes, tips & tricks and cute little foodie photos it is important to understand the NHS advice when it comes to weaning your 6 + month old.
When to start?
All babies are different and it is so important to wait until your baby is ready. I know as new mums we get excited to start new milestones with our little ones and sometimes we get a little ahead of ourselves. But it really is vital we look out for signs they are ready first before giving those first few mouthfuls.
Check your little bundle of joy can;
- Stay in a sitting position & hold their head steady.
- Coordinate well. Can your baby look at food and pick it up to put in their mouths by themselves?
- Swallow food. Generally babies who aren’t ready for food with spend more time pushing their food out wth their tongue ending with a very, very messy face and hardly any in their mouth.
Remember, babies will still be getting the majority of their nutrition from there milk, whether that is breast or formula, so don’t worry about trying to squeeze in three meals a day and 2 snacks from day 1. In the first few weeks of weaning, quantity it is less important. The most significant part of this stage is getting them used to the idea of eating. Try small, simple, single foods first and as the weeks go on you can gradually increase the spoonfulls and diversity of foods until they are eventually sat at the big table eating the same foods as you.
- Avoid chocking hazards e.g. nuts, grapes etc. Don’t give big chunks of fruits/vegetables with shiny skins as finger foods until your child is a competent eater.
- Never leave your baby alone when they are feeding.
- Always ensure there is fresh water/baby milk available during feeds.
- Keep your phone/camera close so you don’t need to step away from the high chair to collect those all too cute messy face snaps!
The first foods
It is always best to offer soft, cooked, vegetables first before sweet fruits. Try small amounts of simple, single flavours to begin with, try the same food over a couple of days. This is to both ensure baby likes the food and more importantly that your little one is not allergic to any of the foods i.e If a rash or any other symptoms do occur, upon seeking medical attention you can clearly state what new foods your baby has been introduced to, mixing foods in the early stages could make determining the allergy difficult. If allergy symptoms do occur be sure to seek medical attention.
Simple weaning planner.
First 14 days- A few spoonfulls given after lunchtime milk.
Day 1 & 2: Pureed Peas
Day 3 & 4- Thursday- Pureed Cauliflower
Day 5 & 6- Pureed Carrots
Day 7 & 8- Pureed Broccoli
Day 9 & 10- Pureed Potatoes
Day 11 & 12- Pureed Butternut squash
Day 13 & 14- Pureed Swede
You can thin out any of the above with your babies usual milk/water to desired texture. After the first 2 weeks continue to offer fruits/vegetables one at a time until you and your baby are comfortable with food. Then its on to trying new and exciting flavours!
Food is Fun!
Babies explore the world through their senses. Sight, Touch, Smell, Taste & Sound. So it is important to remember that when weaning all the senses are important. Babies LOVE to play with their food. They love to squish their food in their little hands and paint their faces with it, so don’t be too upset if your baby would rather play with their food instead of eat it to begin with. I found offering baby safe & appropriate foods to play with whilst you’re making their meals helps to avoid the dreaded ‘GIVE ME FOOD NOW’ cry when waiting for their meals to cool down. Remember to vary textures and smells to make it extra interesting.
Food can also be used for messy play!
- Cooked pasta in a large tray. Stick some play clothes on and let your little one explore the textures, smells & tastes through play. It can be really fun, and very messy!
- Dried pasta, rice, lentils and the like can be used inside clean and clear plastic bottles as a homemade rattle/shaker.
- Water play; using a large tray/bowl filled with water, add natural colouring and herbs/spices to the water and allow them to splash and play. This is a great sensory activity an my daughter loves a peppermint tea bag (to colour and flavour the water) she loves to splash and to smell!
- Flour, coconut oil and lemon/orange zest makes a great edible sand!
It is important to remember that whilst a varied diet for your baby is essential, you must be careful introducing known allergens into your child’s diet. These include, cows milk, eggs, wheat, gluten, peanuts and peanut products, seeds, fish and shellfish. Follow the same rule of introducing these foods one at a time, in small spoonfulls and definitely not before 6 months. Take care to watch carefully for any symptoms of allergic reaction.
Always consult your GP or health visitor before weaning if you are worried about any allergies. Those with a known family history of food allergies, asthma, hay-fever and eczema should be extra careful when introducing peanuts. See the NHS website for more information on allergies.