Weaning – What to give and when

Weaning – What to give and when

Katie Hilton – iCandy Expert Midwife & Health Visitor

Your baby has finally reached six months and it’s time to introduce solid foods. Every baby is of course different and each family takes a different approach to weaning, some prefer baby led weaning while others prefer to stick to spoon-feeding purees. One thing is for sure, by six months of age your little one will start to require extra nutrients, in particular iron, which comes in the form of solid foods. However, the vast majority of nutrients will still come from breastmilk or formula until the age of one.

Here are some foods you may wish to begin with:

  • Puréed or well-mashed cooked vegetables, such as potato, sweet potato, butternut squash, parsnip, carrot, courgette, broccoli or cauliflower
  • Fruit purée, such as ripe cooked apple, pear, mango or papaya or mashed fruit such as ripe avocado or banana
  • Baby rice or other cereal mixed with your baby's usual milk

Once your baby is comfortable taking food from a spoon you can gradually start to increase the range of foods you offer. Including: -

  • Puréed or blended meat, fish or chicken. Be sure to cook the food thoroughly and remove bones.
  • Puréed or well-mashed lentils, split peas, chickpeas or other pulses.
  • Wholemilk yoghurt, fromage frais or custard. But remember your baby shouldn't have cows milk as their main drink until they are a year old.
  • Vegetable purées which have stronger flavours, such as peas, cabbage or spinach.

From seven to nine months your baby will be begin to join in with family meals much more easily. They will also be able to start to enjoy home cooked family meals, this is beneficial because you will know exactly what has gone into the meals and they will get used to what the family eat. If your baby is breastfed, they will get the flavours of what you eat through your milk. This makes them more likely to take to the sort of food you enjoy. Your baby can now also start to try mashed or minced food, rather than purées. Babies who are first given lumpy food when they're older than ten months are more likely to reject it. This may make them reluctant to try different textures and tastes as they grow.

Once your baby is over ten months of age their meals can be more adult like. Food should be chopped or minced and you may like to follow a three meal a day pattern along with one or two snacks each day.

It's a good idea to base your baby's meals on starchy foods. The following starchy foods are fine for your baby:

  • Breakfast cereals
  • Baby breadsticks
  • Potatoes
  • Couscous
  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Oats

As well as starchy foods, your baby needs one protein rich food at each meal. The protein-rich food could be:

  • Fish, but not shark, swordfish and marlin
  • Eggs (well-cooked)
  • Dairy (i.e. cheese)
  • Lean red meat
  • Poultry
  • Lentils

There are some foods and ingredients your baby should not have until one years old. These are:

  • Salt - Your baby's kidneys can't cope with salt yet. It's best not to encourage a liking for it anyway. Don't blend adult ready-meals for your baby. Ready meals contain high levels of salt.
  • Honey - Even if they have a cough, your baby shouldn't have honey until they are one. Very occasionally, it can contain a type of bacteria that can be toxic to a baby's intestines.
  • Sugar - Try sweetening desserts with mashed banana or a purée of stewed dried fruit.
  • Artificial Sweeteners - Diet drinks or squashes containing artificial sweeteners are not suitable for your baby. They are not nutritious and can encourage a sweet tooth.
  • Whole Nuts - These are a choking hazard.
  • Certain Fish - Your baby should not have shark, swordfish and marlin. These may contain traces of mercury.
  • Tea or Coffee - Don't be tempted to add a little tea to your baby's bottle to warm his milk. The tannin in tea may prevent them from absorbing the iron in food properly. Any caffeinated drink is unsuitable for your baby.

Some foods carry a risk of food poisoning. To be on the safe side, don't give your baby:

  • Soft, mould-ripened cheeses, such as brie or camembert.
  • Raw or undercooked shellfish.
  • Soft-boiled or raw eggs, unless they have a red British Lion Quality stamp. British Lion eggs have a very low risk of carrying salmonella bacteria, which can cause food poisoning.
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