By Lisa Mills
Lets start off by saying that all babies are different. There is no set age for weaning your baby. This article aims to give you some guidance. If your baby doesn’t follow this method of weaning, don’t worry; each baby will get there when they are good and ready.
Why Do We Wean?
Up to the age of 6 months, babies obtain all the nutrients they need from either breast or formula milk. Weaning is the process of replacing some of their milk with solid foods. Weaning can begin at any time between 4 and 6 months, although experts believe that the later we wean our babies the better it is for them. The whole process should last until your baby is about 12 months old. The reason we must wait until at least 4 months of age is because our babies’ digestive system is not fully formed until this age. Their digestive systems are not able to process many types of foods before they reach 4 months. Early weaning is not a sign of advancement; it is not good for your baby and may cause problems.
How Do We Wean?
Until you start the process of weaning, your baby will only have had nipples, teats or the occasional plastic toy in their mouth. The whole process of eating solid foods is a new experience for them. The actual feel of a spoon in their mouths will be something completely different for them. The texture of food as opposed to milk on their taste buds will also be something they will take time to get used to.
We recommend that to begin with you simply give them a teaspoon of food each day for few weeks. Good foods to begin with are potatoes, peas, bananas etc. Try different items each day. After a few weeks you can start to introduce another meal later in the day, followed by a third meal after a few more weeks. Remember to try small amounts. Your baby has had 4-6 months reliance on just milk and he will take time to get used to these new sensations.
What To Feed Them?
There are a variety of commercial baby foods available which contain all the right nutrients and vitamins to help your baby grow. However if you wish to be more in control of the ingredients, it is very simple to make your own. There are a few ingredients that should be avoided in your baby’s first year, these include:
Added salt – their kidneys are too immature to deal with it correctly. Honey, raw or uncooked eggs, processed sugars, unpasteurised cheese – risk of food poisoning. Nuts – risk of nut allergies. Cereals – only Gluten free cereals like rice and maize should be given. To prevent coeliac disease.
From 4 – 6 months your baby should respond well to foods with a smooth texture that are simple and are easy to digest. Good examples are baby rice, pureed banana, pureed apples and other fruits.
From 7 months on your baby should be enjoying 3 meals a day. Now you can introduce foods with a ‘lumpier’ texture as well as introducing foods your baby can eat with their fingers. Good examples are fruit, carrot sticks, slices of banana, mashed potato and soft biscuits like Rusks.
From 9 months on your baby has become used to solid foods. The process of chewing their food is helping them develop facial muscles that aid expression and speech development. At this stage slightly hard foods will help them with the teething process. Foods like harder biscuits, slices of apple, white meat, pasta and rice are ideal.
A quick look on the Internet will reveal many recipes for meals suitable for all stages of weaning your baby. If you don’t have time to cook your own or would prefer to buy them ready made, there are no end of baby food suppliers out there.
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