Weaning - My Top Tips!
May brings us National Weaning Week here in the UK.
If you and your baby (or babies!) are about to start your weaning journey then read on for some of my tried and tested top tips!
A vegetables first approach…
Babies are born with a preference for sweet tastes and so it is important to offer a variety of flavours from the beginning. Bitter foods such as broccoli and sour foods such as rhubarb should be offered regularly (for familiarity) rather than avoided. This will help baby develop their taste for a variety of different foods and flavours.
Babies are expressive…
Don’t be put off if baby pulls a funny face when trying a new food. Quite often it’s an expression of tasting something different rather than a dislike and you’ll notice they often go back for more!
If baby does refuse a food, don’t be discouraged. Familiarity is key and it is well documented that it can take 10-15 tastes of a food before it is accepted!
Environment is important…
Aim for a calm setting where you can take time, relax, smile, embrace the mess and enjoy the process! Weaning can be frustrating but babies are very intuitive and will pick up on any anxieties. Be a role-model, if you can, and eat at the table with baby. They love to see you eat and will learn their eating habits from you!
When it comes to weaning (as with most things) every baby and every day is different. What is loved one day may be rejected the next. Don’t be disheartened, weaning is a journey that takes many months (leading into years!) of practice, trial, error and success. Accept the days when things just don’t work out and cheer those wins!
Baby Led Weaning (BLW) vs. Purée… Or, combine the two!
There are pros and cons to both methods and it’s totally personal preference as to which you wish to try with your baby.
Purée generally gives more control to the giver over: (a) what ingredients go into the purée; (b) how much is eaten; and (c) less mess. It can also encourage independent spoon-feeding skills.
BLW allows baby to interact with soft finger foods. This is inevitably messy and it doesn’t often end with much food being eaten but it is a great way for baby to see, touch and explore a food in its natural (albeit cooked) state. It encourages baby to use their fine motor skills and they can practice the motions of biting and chewing.
It is important to be aware of potential choking hazards during the weaning process as babies cannot gauge how big a bite should be.
Cooked foods should be soft and mushy (a good way to measure is if you can squash it easily between your finger and thumb). It should be soft enough for baby to mush with their tongue and gums.
Grated is an easy way to offer a lot of raw foods such as carrot and apple. You can use them as an ingredient or topping or alternatively offer them on the side for baby to practice picking up with their fingers.
Foods such as grapes and blueberries should be chopped into quarters (or smaller) so that if they are swallowed whole they will not get lodged in baby’s throat.
When offering nuts to baby it is always best to grind them up to a coarse powder or use a nut butter.
These are some of the most common food-based allergies in the UK:
- Nuts (e.g. peanuts, walnuts, cashews)
[it is best to introduce nut varieties one at a time as a person can be allergic to one type but not others]
- Dairy produce
- Shellfish, Molluscs
- Wheat, Gluten
Always be alert when offering these to baby and only introduce one at a time (e.g. do not offer eggs and peanuts, for the first time, on the same day). It is also best practice to leave at least 3 days between offering allergens for the first time in case of any delayed reactions.
If baby shows signs of immediate distress / severe symptoms (e.g. swelling) you must call 999.
If baby develops moderate or mild symptoms call 111 for advice.
Babies get most of their nutrient needs met through pregnancy (via the placenta) then from breast or formula milk. Throughout the weaning process, baby tends to drink less milk and it is therefore important to introduce nutrients through food, including:
- A variety of vegetables and fruits
- Carbohydrates (e.g. potatoes, oats, pasta)
- Proteins (e.g. fish, meat, eggs, beans, lentils, pulses)
- Fats (found in dairy, fish, oils, nuts, avocado)
- Iron (found in red meat, lentils, eggs, beans, nuts and fortified foods)
- Omega-3 (found in oily fish, flaxseed, walnuts and enriched eggs)
It is encouraged to avoid any added salts or sugars in baby’s diet to ensure optimal health. Please check labels of store-bought foods and enquire at restaurants, if necessary.
I offer personalised support for weaning journeys. If you would like to know more then please get in touch!