Sleep Consultant, Weaning Specialist, Antenatal Educator and Mum of 2, Victoria Rose is here to support you throughout your parenthood journey.
Read below for her expert advice on weaning...
See this time as the start of your little one’s relationship with food, not about filling them up
It can be reassuring to know, that the first few months of weaning are less about nutrition and more about allowing your baby the opportunity to explore a wide variety of tastes, textures and flavours. In the first few months, your baby will still be getting the majority of their nutritional needs from their milk. The more relaxed you are when introducing solids, the more you allow your baby to touch, taste, play and explore with their food, the better placed they will be for a healthy relationship with their food as they grow up.
Start at a quiet time of day
I recommend introducing solids one meal at a time, starting with either a “breakfast” or a “lunch”. Your aim is that your little one is not too full or too hungry and ideally not tired so a great time to offer solids is around an hour after a milk feed. In addition, sitting and eating with your little one will help them model how to eat and encourage them to get stuck in.
Allow for self-feeding
I generally recommend that parents allow their child to self-feed through what is often referred to as baby-led weaning, however, it’s of course a personal choice. Self-feeding real food (nothing pureed) has a number of cognitive and developmental benefits for babies including coordination skills and oral motor development, plus it allows your little one to learn what the food that they are eating actually looks like, which in turn reduces fussy eating later on. If you prefer purée to whole foods these can still be self-fed.
Offer some water
A little bit of water can aid digestion and help prevent constipation. I love open cups such Babycups and the Doidy Cups. If you need something with a lid, I like the Tommee Tippee Sippy Cup. Don’t worry if it takes your little one a while to get going with water. They are still getting all the hydration then need from their milk.
Allow your baby to register when they are full
A self-feeding baby will be better able to register when full and stop eating. This helps them preserve their inbuilt “full mechanism” and can actually lead to healthy eating and avoid overeating as adults. If you are spoon feeding, take regular pauses to allow them the time to think and feel if they are full. Signs of being full and wanting to stop eating include;
- Keeping mouth closed
- Pushing the spoon away or food onto the floor.
- Turning their head away
- Spitting food out or holding food in their mouth
- Seeming distracted and looking at other things in the room
If your little one is displaying one or more of these signs, allow them to get down from their highchair and end the meal. Trust that they know how much they need/want.
Remember, weaning is a process. There is no one-size fits all approach. Some babies will get going very quickly others may take a month or two. The calmer you are, and the more relaxed and enjoyable you make mealtimes, the more likely baby is to explore and engage with their food.
By Victoria Rose