The weaning process is an important part of a baby’s development and should be done with a lot of patience.
Your baby will learn to move from an all liquid diet to pureed foods, and then onto lumpier meals, and finally to solid pieces like carrot sticks and broccoli. It can sometimes take up to eight tries for a new flavor or texture to be accepted by your baby, so don’t give up if they refuse it on their first go. Starting with healthy foods will give your baby a better start to a healthy future.
Signs your baby is ready:
- Sitting up independently and holding their head upright, and are able to move it steadily from side to side
- Coordinating their hands, eyes and mouth
- Starting to put objects into their mouth
- They are interested in your food
- Hunger after their normal feed
- Disinterest in nursing
If your baby is going through a growth-spurt (usually around 4 months) they will use more energy, which increases their appetite. But don’t mistake this for a sign that they are ready for weaning. Your baby shouldn’t be weaned before 4 months, as during this time their digestive system is not ready for anything other than milk. But once your baby is 6 months old they should be eating solid foods as well as breast milk. It’s an important process because once they reach their first birthday breast milk alone is not enough for a healthy balanced diet.
Start with introducing pureed vegetables
At the beginning your baby will only be eating small portions of pureed vegetables, so milk will still be their main source of nutrition.
Weaning with vegetables first gives your baby a better start to eating healthier in the future. It’s best to start with bitter vegetables such as broccoli, parsnip, spinach and beetroot. Introduce one vegetable at a time so they get used to it and learn its taste and texture.
For babies who are solely breastfed, it is important to feed them iron-rich foods such as spinach, broccoli, chickpeas and lentils.
Remember not to add anything (salt and sugar) to these foods – plain and simple is best.
During these mealtimes, offer them water or diluted fruit juice (1:10) to keep them hydrated.
The first meal
- Start with a happy highly expressive face to reassure your little one
- Start with a very small amount of puree on the tip of the spoon, show it to your baby and tell them what they are having
- Bring the spoon up to their mouth leaving a trace amount on their bottom lip
- Model lip smacking movements to encourage your baby to copy and taste the puree
- Repeat this process by next putting the puree on the inside of their lips then next on their tongue
- Encourage your baby to open and close their mouth by saying “ahhh” as the spoon approaches and “mmm” to close
Slowly increase amounts of puree while your baby is content, but it’s important to stop before they lose interest or become upset.
Increasing variety and texture
Once your little one is comfortable with purees slowly start increasing the texture and providing finger foods.
Milk and dairy
Avoid giving your baby plain milk as a drink before they are a year old, as it will fill them and doesn’t contain enough nutrients on its own.