Keep the foods as natural as possible and avoid adding sugar or salt. Pureed and mashed foods can be a great way to start the process but try not to get stuck on them too much.
During the first few months of a baby’s life, your little one will get all of the nutrients they need from breast milk or infant formula. Soon after however (sooner than you’d expect!), they begin to need a more varied selection of foods to meet all of their nutritional requirements and so starts the process of weaning. Most babies are ready to start eating solids at around 6 months old. Look out for the tell-tale signs of chewing their fists, waking at night when they wouldn’t usually (just when you thought you’d nailed the routine), or demanding a lot more milk than usual.
Where to start with weaning
Initially it’s about getting your baby used to the idea of eating – don’t worry too much about how much food they’re eating as most of their nutrients will still be coming from breast milk or formula. Some days your baby might want to eat a lot of solid foods, whilst the next they might only take milk. Don’t worry, it’s not a step backwards, just think of it as going from a day filled with cake and chocolates to a Monday morning filled with hummus and crackers! During weaning, it’s important to let your baby touch and hold the food – this is probably the only time in life where you should encourage them to play with their food! It can take time, so be patient and keep trying. Although if it seems they really don’t want it, don’t force them, just try again at the next feed. Of course, at first it’s likely that they will reject a lot of foods – do you remember the first time you tried olives?! But keep trying as it’s likely to grow on them over time. Make sure any hot food has properly cooled and that you stay with them while they are eating to avoid any choking.
What to feed them?
Breast milk is typically quite sweet so babies are often used to sweeter flavours. Try mashing or lightly boiling certain fruit and vegetables such as parsnip, potato, sweet potato, carrot, apple or pear. Keep the foods as natural as possible and avoid adding sugar or salt. Pureed and mashed foods can be a great way to start the process but try not to get stuck on them too much – you want to get your little one used to a variety of textures and flavours from a young age. After pureed foods, move onto soft finger foods such as bananas, boiled carrots, sweet potato or avocado. Pieces about the shape and size of your finger will work best because it will be easier for them to hold it. After finger foods you can begin to introduce a wider variety such as pasta, noodles, toast, lentils, rice, hard boiled eggs and yoghurts – again, remember to choose foods with low or no added sugar. At around 8 to 9 months, the NHS recommends that your baby will begin to eat 3 meals a day. We can’t promise how much of that will go into their mouth, as opposed to on the floor, but we’re sure you’ll have lots of fun in the process! Once your baby is at this stage, make sure to give them a good mix of healthy carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables and protein, as well as milk and dairy products. All in all, it’s important to remember that weaning is a process that can take months, so don’t expect your baby to be going from breast milk to a Sunday Roast within the first week - although if you blended up the veg enough you could be onto something! Information taken from the NHS
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