Get ready for weaning
Weaning (starting solid foods) is a such a fun experience. Watching your wee one experience tastes for the first time is such a joyful time. It’s not just tastes they’re exploring but texture and spatial awareness as the food moves through the body! I’ll never forget giving my daughter mashed beetroot for the first time the faces were priceless. I just wish I’d had the foresight to video them!
Now don’t get too house proud because this stage can get messy! We were lucky our kitchen needed a lot of work so we weren’t too bothered what hit the walls or landed on the floor! If you are worried – get organised and place a mat down and wear easy to wash clothes. You never know which way the food will fly!
Are you ready?
- PHYSICAL a baby needs to be able to hold their head steady, pick up food to their mouth and swallow their food.
- BIOLOGICAL usually the baby will be about 6 months old
- AMOUNT it’s not about amounts it’s about experimentation
- TYPE it’s about what will puree best and making it colourful.
- Choose a time of day when your little one is awake and alert but not distracted
- Get the camera ready because the expressions your little one will pull will break your heart or split your sides from laughing!
- Be ready for mess
- Cook the food into puree cubes.
1. Time of Day
when is your baby not sleepy or distracted? When do YOU have plenty of time to give? Include tidying up time What foods to start with
2. Starting solid foods
Good foods to start with are ones that are good for puréeing. This is usually fruit and vegetables. Apples, pears, banana, potato, sweet potato and carrots are all good. Make sure they’re all well mashed. Finger foods. The main ones to avoid are the obvious allergy inducing foods. The NHS site gives a good overview here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/foods-to-avoid-giving-babies-and-young-children/
They include no salt, sugar, honey, nuts, uncooked eggs, rice drinks, some cheeses, shellfish. I have heard some babies don’t get on with strawberries
3. Finger foods
Finger foods are also great at building independence. Try soft foods like avocado and soft fruit like melon.
DON’T give soft round foods yet like grapes and small cherry tomatoes as babies can choke on these. .
4. Make up cubes of purees
It’s easier to make up batches of purees and freeze them in freezer cube trays. Your baby will only eat a very little amount. The cube size is perfect to start off with. Avoid hard foods at the start and remove pips or stones. Wash all fruit and veg before you cook and puree. I always thought of colours rather than vitamins at this early stage.
5. Get it to room temperature
Make sure the temperature is right – especially if you have frozen them. Try to keep it at room temperature. If you’ve just cooked it, make sure it’s cool. Test it on your skin. It should feel more or less skin temperature.
You can either lay out the food or offer weaning spoons with mouthfuls on them. Weaning spoons are a bit gentler on the gums. I think offering both is good. Remember to wash your hands and ALWAYS stay with your baby in case of choking.
1. Lay out food and spoons WASH YOUR HANDS!
Don’t worry if not much is eaten. This is about exploration in the early days. Also getting used to the texture and dropping the food is not them being difficult it is them exploring.
2. Take your time and monitor their swallowing
What goes in will undoubtedly come out first before it goes down. Your baby pushes their tongue forward when breastfeeding or bottle drinking so it will take a while to work out how to move their tongue backwards so the food stays in their mouth. They’ve then got to work out how to swallow it. If they aren’t swallowing they may not be ready to wean!
3. Watch and evaluate!
As well as watching for any signs that it doesn’t agree with your little one watch for gagging. If your baby is gagging their eyes might water or they may retch.
4. Allow them to explore
Part of the exploration is feeling the food and exploring the texture not just in their mouth but in their hands (and sometimes feet) too.
5. Embrace the messy moments
This time lasts for such a short time – accept the mess, set up the camera, batch cook a variety and check out what your child likes. Once you’ve done the one at a time foods you can mix things like beetroot and apple or carrot and orange. Give it all a go!
6. Avoid any choking hazard
Keep all small items away – check all food for lumpy bits and stay with your child. Keep any hot drinks you may be having out of reach.