Weaning, or the process of introducing solid food to your baby’s routine, is an exciting milestone: but when should you start? Research points to six months as the ideal time, because your little one’s intestines are mostly developed by that stage.
The Department of Health and the World Health Organization recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life. From six months, other foods should complement breastfeeding for up to two years or more.
You should really think of weaning as a way for baby to explore the world of tastes and textures rather than a way for them to get most of their nutrients. For now, it’s all about discovery!
The most important sign of readiness from baby will be the ability to sit up unsupported and hold up their head. Other signs include being curious about what you're eating, losing the tongue thrust reflex, or still being hungry after a full day's portion of milk.
Experts recommend starting baby on a schedule of breakfast, lunch, and dinner to get used to the idea of sitting down and eating at certain times (that said, you should never force or pressure your baby to eat. If they are showing no interest, move on.) Make this a routine: wash hands, soothe him, and turn off TV or any music. This will help baby become conscious of eating and learn to recognize when he's full.
Try to offer foods from the different food groups each day and let baby choose which to explore and taste. Start with small amounts and increase them as he asks for more. To start with, try baby cereal (such as oatmeal, rice and barley), sweet potato, banana, avocado, apples, pears, green beans and butternut squash. To help you in the kitchen, a hand blender like the BabyDan Food Mill or a multi-tasking food processor like the Beaba Babycook (that steams, cooks, blends, defrosts and reheats) can be real lifesavers! We also love the best-selling Fill ‘n Squeeze Starter Kit with food masher, 5 reusable filling pouches & brush included, as kids love eating by themselves squeezing the fun, colorful pouches! For storing and freezing, check out the Babypotz Mixed Starter Set designed to suit every developmental stage in the baby’s first year. It comes with no less than 50 assorted pots and lids!
Do remember that the weaning process takes time: baby needs to learn to feel comfortable with the new sensations that go along with eating. Yes, you might get grimaces and horrible faces, but don’t get disheartened!
You are also likely to get messes as baby experiments and is likely to fling food everywhere! To make cleaning up easier, roll up sleeves, use a bib or apron and put a clean plastic cloth on the floor so you can safely re-offer dropped foods.
Remember that certain foods are a choking risk for children under three years of age: do not feed baby whole grapes, whole cherry tomatoes, popcorn, large amounts of peanut butter and any food that could break off in large chunks, such as raw carrot, hard apple or celery sticks. Nuts are also a choking risk up to age five years. As a general rule, never leave your baby alone with food or when he is eating.
From Food Preparation and Storage to Cups, Cutlery and Accessories, find a huge variety of weaning products here on Inhealth.ie. And as we are 100% Irish, order before 2pm today and you’ll get next day delivery with An Post!