5 tips for successful weaning
The Department of Health guidelines recommend that mums should begin weaning their babies at six months. Weaning can be a challenging time for mum and baby – both of whom are learning to put new skills into practice. Nutritionist, Charlotte Stirling-Reed takes you through her top 5 tips for getting started with weaning.
It is important to remember that babies are all very different and so it is not a good idea to compare the weaning progress of your baby with that of others. See below for my five top tips to help you get started:
- Get the texture right
- Have regular meal times
- Allow baby to guide his or her own appetite
- Keep relaxed and calm
- Don’t give up
When starting to introduce food to your baby it is best to start slowly, offering a small amount (1 or 2 teaspoons to start with) of a smooth and runny puree – just a little thicker than the texture of milk. Good first weaning foods include pureed fruits and vegetables or baby rice mixed with a little of baby’s usual milk. Gradually increase the thickness of these purees over the next month so that by around 7 months baby is eating a thick puree which will “dollop” off of a spoon.
When first introducing foods try and pick a time of day when it is peaceful with few disruptions and then offer each solid feed at a similar time on the following days. This helps baby to learn when to expect foods and to start getting used to a mealtime routine. Initially offer baby just one solid feed a day, then over the next month increase this to two meals and then three meals – again offering these at similar times each day.
Your baby is the best person to know when they are full, so learn to recognise and respond to signs that your baby has had enough. Clamping their mouth shut, turning their head away and spitting food out are all signs that baby has had enough. It is best to remember that – “you can decide what food baby eats, but they should decide how much”.
During weaning your baby may pick up on your anxieties, so it is important that you try and keep relaxed to help encourage them to take new foods. Try and make eye contact with baby and practice lots of smiling even if initially feeding is met with refusal. Refrain from getting upset and just try again next time.
Weaning your baby onto solid foods needs patience and persistence. It can take up to ten times before new foods are accepted, so if baby refuses foods make sure you are offering the right texture and try again next time. Try mixing an accepted food with another that baby is refusing and make sure you are always offering plenty of variety in baby’s feeds. Remember not to panic and that persistence is the key to getting your baby weaning well.
Ask for help
If you are anxious about starting solids, ask for help from your local health visitor. Other mums can be a friendly source of support too.