When is the Best Time to Start Weaning?
Many women are worried about whether they should or shouldn’t be weaning their child, and whether their little one is getting enough nutrients from their milk alone or if they should start them on a few solid foods.
When to WeanIn the past the advice with regard to weaning has been varied; some research suggested that four months was adequate whilst current guidelines recommend six months. These recommendations change as we learn more about the digestive needs and capabilities of babies and what is the safest and best practice for them.
Before you start to wean your child it is important to make sure he or she can sit up and hold their own head up. If your baby was a very small birth-weight or was born prematurely, always check with your health visitor if you are safe to start feeding your child with solids.
You will know if your baby is ready to start weaning as he or she may not be satisfied after a milk feed, may want to be fed soon after their last feed or if they are getting agitated and upset when they see you eating.
Only prepare and heat the amount of food that you think your baby will take as this will cut down on waste. Never re-heat food for your baby as this is dangerous even if you do it for yourself.
Weaning takes time, always allow time for mealtimes, don’t rush your baby as this may stress them and make weaning less successful.
Use a clean, sterilised spoon for feeding and make sure the bowl used is clean and sterilised.
What Shall I Give my Baby Whilst Weaning?The best foods to start your baby with are those that the family enjoys; items such as potatoes or blended vegetables are perfect though you must remember not to add anything to them whilst they are cooking and allow them to cool enough before giving them to your child. If you must use pre-made baby food use those that are designed for weaning such as baby rice and small jars of plain baby food such as porridge. These are excellent as they don’t contain any additives, sugars or anything else that can cause harm. They are useful if you are out and about but are not ideal in the home or for long term and every day use.
Most babies will only take a few spoons in the first few weeks as they get used to moving the food from the front to the back of their mouth.
Some babies don’t like eating from a spoon so perseverance is needed, though do not stress your baby by trying to force them to eat.
Don’t be tempted to give your baby a wide variety of new tastes until they are eating from a spoon successfully as this will confuse them and may even put them off. Use two or three different tastes in the first few weeks.
Remember, never leave your child alone whilst they are eating or just after they have finished as they may choke, or be sick immediately after.
What about milk feeds?When you first start to wean your baby there is no need to stop or cut back on the number of feeds he or she has during 24 hours. Some babies are sleeping through the night at this stage whilst others still need a night feed; both are normal and nothing to worry about.
In the first few months of weaning your baby won’t be getting much nutritional value from the food as during this stage the baby is purely learning how to use their mouth and tongue more appropriately and adjust their digestive system to the changes in their diet. In fact, if you do reduce their feeds too early they may not be getting enough content in their system and may suffer as a result.It is useful however to try and include some fresh boiled water within their diet as this helps them digest the foods and keep them hydrated. Try getting your baby used to using a beaker or cup container as spending too long on a bottle teat can be damaging to their dental health. This is especially true after six months when their teeth are likely to break through.
Weaning your baby should be enjoyable and neither you nor the baby should find it too stressful. If you are struggling to wean your child, maybe they are not ready, maybe you are giving them enough time to eat properly or maybe they don’t like what you are giving them. Please speak to your health visitor if you are having trouble feeding your baby.