Baby Weaning Guide
Weaning is a lovely time for you and your baby as you start to introduce a whole world of new foods.
Weaning is when you give your baby any food other than milk for the first time and it is an important step on the road to eating family meals. Weaning also helps to develop all of the muscle baby is going to need for speech, so there are lots of good reasons to get started.
When to wean? Start to wean your baby close to six months of age - but some babies may be ready earlier than this! Just remember that your baby must be at least 17 weeks old before they start to wean, no matter how hungry they seem to be - their digestion is just not ready for solid food before 17 weeks.
Why wean? By the time a baby is 6 months old they will be starting to run out of stores of key nutrients like iron, zinc and vitamins A and D - and milk alone will no longer be enough. It is also essential to start babies off with a variety of tastes, and later on textures, that they need to learn to be able to eat healthy throughout their life.
- Start spoon feeding your baby about 30 minutes before your baby is due a milk feed.
- Babies need to be well-supported in an upright position, in your arms to begin with and later they can move to a highchair with a tray. Keep your baby’s head in line with their body.
- Start with one meal a day - lunchtime is often the easiest. After two weeks, you can move to two meals a day and then to three.
- Start with a small amount of smooth, pureéd food. Remember, at this stage you are just helping your baby to get used to taking food from a spoon - don’t worry about how much they eat at the start.
- Use a small, soft spoon. Only put a little pureé on the spoon. Hold the spoon to your baby’s lips and let them ‘suck’ the food from the spoon or tip it in very gently.
- Most babies will only take 2-3 teaspoons at first and then gradually get used to more. Watch your baby: if they start to get upset or bothered, then stop the feed and try again the next day.
- As your baby gets older and better able to support themselves, you can start to use a high chair with a tray or a seat that attaches to your table. It is very important that your baby can easily reach and touch the food that is in front of them. We might not like the mess but babies learn about food by touching it as well as eating it!
Siobhan Berry of MummyCooks.ie shares some tips and delicious recipes for weaning your baby onto solid food.
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