Have you ever found this subject a little confusing?
I know I have!
Weaning comes with a magnitude of information bombarded our way, it’s easy to feel rather overwhelmed and apprehensive even before we wean our children!
Have no fear! Nanny Maryanne is here! (That probably sounded way cooler in my head…God loves a trier eh?)
I’m going to share everything you need to know to make you full of confidence with your babe.
Whether you have started weaning or planning on it, I guarantee this stuff is NOT worth a miss!
What is weaning?
Let’s start way at the beginning (I told you I wouldn’t miss anything)!
It’s a given that at some point or another in your child’s life, they will be eating solid foods typically 3 times a day.
Although it might sound simple, at this stage, babies can’t go from having milk all their lives and straight into 3 meals a day. Their digestive systems wouldn’t be ready to handle it all (plus they wouldn’t be quite interested in big meals at this stage!)
Weaning is that little important process in-between feeding on milk and full on solids. It’s like a gradual process to softly move your kiddo onto solid food!
What age do I start weaning?
Like everything involving childcare, there are no set rules and restrictions of when you must start weaning.
Naturally, 6 months is usually a good age. However, there are lots of signs and things to consider before starting weaning which I have listed below!
Many baby foods say they are suitable for 4 months but to be on the safe side it is best to wait until 6 because by this age your little one’s level of enzymes (which speed up chemical reactions in the body vital for digestion and metabolism) is pretty low and cannot digest starch as well at a younger age.
Don’t be surprised if your little one drinks a little less if you have started weaning. If your babe is taking a significant amount of food, it’s absolutely normal for them to drink less milk at this time. It’s nothing worry about, and I assure you the more time goes on, the more your baby will drink water/milk/juices.
What to think about before you start weaning
As I said previously, most babies are ready to wean around 6 months, although this may not be the same in every family.
Every baby is different! While one baby may be so adventurous and scrambling to dive into solid foods, another may be a little different and want to stay on milk for longer. Either way, there’s no reason why you can’t experiment and have fun with it!
Look out for these signs! Your baby will be ready to wean when she:
-Sit’s up comfortably
-Shows good hand to eye co-ordination
-Watches what you’re eating and may even try to grab your food
-They can swallow food.
This is why many first baby foods are so soft and runny as they have been used to this texture from milk. Keep in mind if your baby pushes food away when you offer they are telling you they don’t want the food!
-Trust your instinct!
You will absolutely know when your babe is ready and how she wants to be fed. Always trust your gut with parenting and I promise you everything will be great!
There are many “tell tell” signs out there that in fact do NOT mean your little one is ready!
This is a classic sign of teething and many babes do it when their mouths are hurting. Don’t stress over it if you are unsure. Offer some food and if your little one definitely isn’t interested then it’s time to grab the teething gel!
-Wanting extra milk feeds.
This can be a confusing one. By the book, you’d think babes would feed on milk less and take more solids, right? Often this is not the case so don’t worry over it. Throughout changes and growth spurts it’s common your baby will want to be fed on milk even more as its jam-packed with nutrients, minerals and all that lovely stuff they need to grow!
Things like this will happen naturally and will be solely dependent on what your baby needs! They will show you whichever way is best for them. If they develop at a rate, unlike any other little ones you know this is absolutely nothing to fret over.
When weaning, how do I know my baby is hungry
-Opening her hand and/or mouth.
Your baby is telling you she is hungry and ready to accept food!
-Dancing when she sees food/ excited.
I love it when a baby does this! Since we associate food with positive feelings and reward, it’s no wonder some little ones get so excited when they see food they can’t help but do a little jig! (I think I still do the same thing, tehe!)
-Pointing to food/spoons.
Many babies point at things before they can use speech as a way of communicating what they want. Don’t be surprised if they do this with activities and toys too!
-Communicating or gesturing hunger.
Once your little one is at the stage where they are able to communicate, they will tell you with little words such as “ba ba” for the bottle.
How do I tell my baby is full?
-Baby’s hands are open and relaxed
Often when our needs are met, everything becomes much smoother and begins to wind down again.
Also, consider during other times if your little one’s hands are tense, there could be something she is needing.
-Shaking head/ turning her head away.
If she was into it, your little one would be all for it. However, if she turns away, take notice of this and stop feeding for now.
-Closing her mouth and refusing to open it.
This a sign your baby has had enough or simply isn’t interested in what you are giving her.
-Slowing the pace of eating
Contrary to when they started eating (all that excitement and dancing) slowly eating or perhaps even picking at her food will let you know enough is enough.
-Pushing food away
Pretty simple, this is a sign telling you she doesn’t want any more. If she was grabbing food and bringing it close, she’ll want the food!
-Babe’s body feels peaceful and soft
Much like myself after a good meal, I turn into a floppy ball of satisfaction and this is the same case for your little one! Once a need is met, there is no reason to be tense. Instead, your little one will be happy and at peace.
Foods to introduce between 4 and 6 months
This is typically known as stage 1. At this point (if your little one is interested) babies are best given foods which are soft, packed full of nutrients and safe.
Try the following fruits!
-Mushed avocado, mashed bananas, cut up mango, soft cut up pear, mashed pumpkin, blended prunes (great if your babe’s toilet time needs some attention).
-Steamed or boiled carrots, mashed peas, sweet potato (either mashed or boiled and cut up), squash.
-Pureed chicken, small chunks of deli meat, mashed up turkey (try whipping up with mashed potato).
-Pasta (to let your little one get a better grip, I usually pick a brand for kiddos that will stay on the spoon like this one.
Wholegrain rice (although it is tricky to put in your little one’s mouth without little rice bits decorating the floor!) Very soft wholegrain bread, cereals and lentils.
Foods to stay clear of
As much as I encourage you to let your babe try as much as possible, there are a few foods that are absolutely unsafe for your kiddo before a certain age.
Wait until at least 12 months before giving your baby honey. It can contain spores of a bacteria called Clostridium botulinum, which can germinate in a baby’s digestive system and cause an illness called infant botulism, which is rare but fatal if harvested.
-Cows milk and soy milk
Wait until the kiddos first birthday at least. This type of milk is much more difficult to digest for little ones.
Wait until 6 months to give your babe different types of eggs. However, if your eggs box is stamped with a “Brtish Lion Quality” then this means it is safe and is fine for your baby to have lightly cooked.
Foods high in salt and sugar
These food are even more un-needed for babies. They don’t need this in their diet and this is a big risk for their little bodies.
Choosing the right time of day
Your little one will be less likely to be in an exploring, adventures mood for new things at bedtime. This is often a time of comfort and familiarity. Choose a time of day when they are going to be awake and alert!
Don’t be put off
If your little one tries something new and pushes away, hear this and stop. However, I wouldn’t give up on this food. Perhaps a few days later try the food again and naturally, as babies grow older, they will grow into their favourite foods.
Very often when starting out, most foods are a massive change for babies. They have been so used to lovely milk for all their lives so far, it’s easy to see why wild and wonderful taste explosions are a massive turn off at this point!
Everything in your little one’s body is so young and each new thing is a big change!
Take weaning easy and try to relax you and your little one as much as possible, this will only up your chances of success with new foods.
As always please let me know below what you thought and I’d love to support you even more along your parenting journey!
Nanny M x