For the first 6 months of your baby’s life they will exclusively rely on breast or formula milk. This milk offers your baby vital nutrients and vitamins to help them develop and grow and provides more energy than solids can in those first vital months, which is why it is recommended not too introduce solids until 6 months old. Once your baby reaches this 6-month milestone, you can start to introduce food. Here we look at three different methods of weaning:
There is no evidence to suggest which foods are best to introduce first, but most start with vegetables and fruit, allowing your baby to try different flavours. Pureed food is a more traditional method of weaning, by pureeing your little one’s food they may eat more at the earlier stages and once they are used to pureed food you can make the food more textured and gradually move to solids at about 7-8 months. The benefits of using this method is it is usually a little less messy than Baby-led Weaning as the parent holds the spoon and feeds the child. It may also be easier to introduce iron rich foods earlier on for example meat and leafy greens, which may be difficult to chew at first. Also, some parents prefer this method as they worry about their baby gagging or choking.
Baby-led weaning introduces solids to your baby at 6 months, rather than you spoon feeding them. The baby then chooses what they want to try and how much. You simply offer your baby similar foods to what you are eating, being careful not to add any salt and to cook meat and eggs thoroughly. This method is considered more sociable as the baby can join in with family meal times and it is also less labour intensive as you don’t need to spend time making purees, but instead offer finger sized portions of your food for your baby to try. With baby-led weaning you may need to offer more milk than if you were introducing puree but this will reduce as your baby gets use to chewing and digesting the food. Also, some research has suggested baby-led weaning can result in less fussy eaters and obesity.
Some parents do a combination of pureed and solid food from 6 months. This method can help introduce iron rich food earlier than if they were exclusively weaned using the baby-led method. It also encourages your baby to self-feed and using a spoon earlier than if they were being fed by a parent exclusively, as well as encouraging baby to try different textures and tastes.
However you choose to wean your baby, there is lots of helpful advice and recipes available both from your health visitor and online. Some areas also have sessions at a local Children’s Centre or Mother and Baby group which can offer advice on the best way for you and your family. Whichever way you decide, enjoy this process of helping your little one explore new tastes and textures. Good eating habits can take time and being relaxed and enjoying meal times will be easier for all, so have some fun!
Have you recently weaned your baby? Which method did you choose? We’d love to hear your ideas and recipes – just post your comments on our blog here or our Facebook Page.
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