When to start weaning?
Most mums find weaning emotional- because they have gotten used to the (sometimes) ticklish feeling they get when their babies suck. After bottle feeding/exclusively breastfeeding your baby for 6 months, you should begin introducing solids. Don’t do it too early. If you feel your baby needs solids earlier, speak to your GP.
Your baby is ready if:
- He/She can sit upright, holding his/her head steady
- He/She can pick up food and put it in his/her mouth
- He/She is 6 months+
Best first foods
Your baby may spit out food at first, because he/she is not used to swallowing it and is encountering new flavours and textures, so make sure you’re both dressed for mess! To start, give your baby a little milk, then offer a few spoons of well cooked rice or purée. Very first foods should be easy to digest and unlikely to provoke an allergic reaction. Try these:
- Vegetables – Carrot, potato and sweet potato.
- Fruit – Ripe raw banana; cooked apple and pear (for easy digestion). Taste them to make sure they’re ripe.
Early food allergies
Getting your baby to start a new food can sometimes cause allergies. The allergies are most common in the first few years; many children outgrow them by three. Introduce new foods one at a time, so if there is a reaction you’ll know what caused it.
Foods to avoid
- Salt – This stresses immature kidneys and causes dehydration. Don’t offer smoked foods – they are high in salt.
- Sugar – It encourages a sweet tooth and increases the risk of decay later.
- Honey – Very rarely, honey can cause infant botulism.
- Egg Whites – Because of possible allergies, egg white should only be given after 12 months. Yolks are ok at this stage.
Preparing baby food
Cooking: This preserves the taste and nutrients; if boiling, use as little water as possible and don’t overcook. Once cooked, add just enough boiled water or cooking liquid, breast or formula milk to make a smooth purée.
Puréeing For the first few weeks, make purées lump-free, and not too thick.
Freezing Save time by preparing purées in bulk. Fill small, portion-sized containers or an ice cube tray almost to the top, before cooling, sealing and freezing as soon after cooking as possible. It’s a good idea to seal ice cube trays in a freezer bag.
Remember, weaning your baby is not a one-day job- you have to go one step at a time.