Written by Registered Nutritionist and mum-of-two, Rhiannon Lambert.
When it comes to weaning your baby, there is no right or wrong way. As there are many options to choose from, it’s important that you do what works best for you and your baby.
This could be baby-led with finger foods where you only offer your baby finger foods and let them feed themselves from the start, as opposed to spoon feeding them puréed or mashed foods , spoon-fed with veg purees, rice and fruit, or veg-led too. There’s so many options to trial and choose from. In my own weaning journey for both my little ones, I opted for veg with a mix of purées and finger foods and built up from there.
So, where do you start?
Here are my top tips for those first few weeks of weaning!
Stick to one feeding time
Babies thrive off routine, so it’s a good idea to feed your baby at the same times each day. Lunchtimes are a pretty good starting point for the initial weaning sessions as there will be an adequate gap in between the morning milk feed so your little one will be ready for feeding when lunchtime comes.
Some parents may offer this meal before their next milk feed or after. This is personal preference depending on how you feel with your baby, as well as how your baby is feeling after their meal.
In my personal experience, with my first child I gave a meal after the milk feed and with my second child I did it before. Both worked well so it’s really down to how the child feels and what fits best into your daily routines.
Make sure that finger foods are soft enough for babies to squash with their gums, and that purées are smooth, to help reduce the risk of choking.
Always test the temperature of your little one's food too before giving it to them to avoid scalding their mouths.
Ensure there is a safe seating area too, for them to remain in an upright position.
- Music. It’s important to create a relaxing, calming, and positive environment to eat in. Soothing music may help to do this and when this plays your baby may recognise that it’s time to eat. Make sure you use the same soothing music, e.g. classical, each time for consistency. Remember when you’re calm your baby will tend to be calmer too, so make sure that you’re relaxed when feeding your baby.
- Family mealtimes. Eating together as a family where you can, can really help encourage your baby to learn and develop how to chew and swallow foods as they watch you. This also provides a positive setting for your baby to enjoy their meal in to help them to build that healthy relationship with food as they get older.
- Weaning equipment. Making sure you're prepared by having all the necessary equipment, such as soft-ended cutlery, bibs and floor mats, ice cube trays to freeze homemade purées etc. You can find a seperate blog on this in the 'PRE-WEANING' section.
- Be mindful of the language spoken and the body language used when talking about food. Where possible, try to keep it positive at all times and try not to offer rewards for eating certain foods or certain amounts.
- Give encouragement and praise using your words, facial expressions and hand actions too, such as smiling and clapping.
- Children may be up and down with the food they eat but try to ensure they have a wide variety of food with no foods being seen as good or bad.
- Children model how to chew and swallow too so show your baby how and exaggerate a bit
Eating solid foods is a whole new experience for your little one, so it may take them a while to get used to all the new flavours and textures that they are being exposed to. For some babies, it can take more than 10 attempts to start accepting a certain food regularly, so just keep offering and eventually this may become something that they start to eat more of and enjoy eating too!
Every baby is unique and how they engage and adapt to this new journey will be different between and even within families. Remember to always do what works for you and your baby and go at your own pace. Although it can be easier said than done, try not to compare your experiences to other families, whether that be friends or through social media channels. If you’re concerned about your child’s nutrition then it’s always advised to speak with your GP and a specialist paediatric dietitian as they will be able to help with specific nutritional needs.