One of the most common queries as your baby nears 6 months is how to start weaning. The best bit of advice we can give you is to take each stage as it comes. Don’t worry if your baby is constantly spitting out their food this is normal and remember it can take up to 10 times before a baby will accept a new food. Before long your baby will be eating from your plate and sharing meal times with the rest of the family.
What are the best foods to begin weaning with?
Your baby’s first weaning foods should be both gentle in flavour and smooth in texture.
Aptamil Organic Baby rice is one suitable option to begin with. When mixed with your baby’s usual milk your baby will experience only a slight taste difference and therefore be more likely to accept it. Baby rice is also very gentle on your baby’s tummy and easily digested making it a great first food.
Introduce vegetables first over fruits, as babies have a natural sweet tooth.
Vegetable purees are also great weaning foods e.g. sweet potatoes, butternut squash, carrot and parsnip are full of vital nutrients for your little one’s growing need. Their texture also means they can be very easily made into a puree consistency. When you start off weaning your baby it is best to introduce vegetables first over fruits, as babies have a natural sweet tooth. Remember the more varied the diet is, the less likely they are to become a fussy eater later in life. Fruit purees are also a great source of the key nutrients like vitamin C and also can be easily made into a puree. Apple, pear, banana are always a favourite.
Wait three to four days before the introduction of a new food to get your baby settled on one food before moving onto the next.Once your baby is settled on solids you can start to introduce meat and fish and prepare it to the consistency required for your baby’s stage of weaning as long as it is well cooked. Remember the more varied the diet is, the less likely they are to become a fussy eater. It will also be easier to introduce them to family meals as they get older so it is a good idea to vary the type of foods you offer your baby.
What time will they be more likely to accept solids and how much should I give?
Mid morning to lunchtime is often a good time to start. Ideally, you should give your baby their usual milk feed first, so they are not too hungry. If they are starving they will have little interest in trying something new! Once they’ve had their milk feed, offer them just one or two baby spoons of for example pure babyrice or pureed carrot mixed with their usual milk. The best time to offer your baby their first foods is when they are not too hungry, relaxed and in good form. Your baby will be able to take solids, with or without teeth! Once they are taking 1-2 spoons of one food you can build this up gradually over the next few days. When they are up to about 6 spoons you can offer another meal at a second time of the day.
What texture should my baby’s foods be?
Your baby’s first foods should be smooth and runny with no lumps. To reach this consistency, cook fruit and vegetables until they are soft, blend the food in a blender until the desired consistency is met then mash foods with a fork to remove all small lumps and form a smooth texture. Add some of your baby’s usual milk if a smoother consistency is required. As your baby progresses through the weaning journey they will be able to take thicker purées and then minced or mashed foods with small lumps, then finely chopped foods and eventually onto family meals. Increasing the texture will encourage a chewing motion which is really important in developing the muscles your baby will need for speech as they grow.
Can I put foods in my baby’s bottle?
No. Do not add any food to your baby’s bottles. This can be harmful for your baby.
Can I make up purees in batches and freeze them to use at a later date?
Once a puree is prepared freeze the extra servings in ice-cube trays
Yes, to save you having to slave over the stove everyday it can be a great idea to make up purees in batches and use them at a later date. This is a great way to save time especially at this stage when time is so precious. Once a puree is prepared freeze the extra servings in ice-cube trays, platic bags or plastic containers. Label each container and include the date it was prepared. Babyfood can be stored in a freezer for up to 8 weeks. Note, it is not safe to refreeze babyfood. Always use defrosted foods within 24 hours.
Are there any foods I shouldn’t give my baby before they reach 12 months?
- Added salt, too much can harm their developing kidneys.
- Gravies, stock cubes and packet/jar sauces, these can have a lot of hidden salt.
- Honey should only be given after 12 months as there is a small risk of botulism.
- Unpasteurized cheese, including soft and mould ripened cheese e.g. brie, blue cheese.
- Added sugar. It can lead to tooth decay and encourage a sweet tooth.
- Avoid whole or chopped nuts until the age of 5 years due to the risk of choking.
- Cows’ milk is not suitable as a drink before 12 months; small amounts may be added to recipes.
- Hot spices.
- Eggs should be avoided before 6 months. After 6 months avoid undercooked eggs, cook them until both the yolk and the white of the egg are solid.
- Avoid shellfish until after 12 months.
- Tea, coffee and fizzy drinks should not be given, they are not suitable drinks for babies.
- The Department of Health and Children recommend that gluten containing foods should be avoided before six months, e.g. foods such as bread, pasta and gluten containing cereals. Gluten can be found in wheat, rye, oats and barely. Once baby reaches 6 months you can start to introduce gluten gradually.
If you’ve any further questions about foods to start your baby on or have any queries about whether or not to avoid a certain food, do contact our experts on our Careline who’ll be happy to help.