weaning - help and advice
Weaning can be one of the most exciting times for a Mum, and of course for baby too! New tastes, new sensations and new expressions… you will begin to appreciate the saying, “Variety is the spice of life!” However it can be a little stressful, and there is no doubt that if you want your baby to have the best possible and most nutritious start in life – you DO have to be organised. SO ....more
Weaning your child from breastfeeding is not the easiest thing to do. As I understand it, weaning a baby from breastfeeding is like quitting smoking or giving up chocolate. It's best not to quit cold turkey. It's not easy for you or the baby, but it has to be done ....more
It is now recommended that you wait until your baby is six months of age before starting to wean and introduce any solid food into their diet. Our baby seemed to be needing something extra from the age of about 18 weeks. (17 weeks is the minimum recommended age to introduce any solids) ....more
Knowing when to start weaning your baby is always going to involve a bit of guesswork, but mostly health professionals recommend you start to wean baby around 6 months of age. That's because your baby's mouth, jaw and digestive system are all ready for solid foods by then. Another possible idea is to start weaning when baby's weight has doubled, although this doesn't always mean baby is ready ....more
Top tips for weaning your baby - by Lucy-Ann Prideaux
Weaning can be one of the most exciting times for a Mum, and of course for baby too! New tastes, new sensations and new expressions… you will begin to appreciate the saying, “Variety is the spice of life!” However it can be a little stressful, and there is no doubt that if you want your baby to have the best possible and most nutritious start in life – you DO have to be organised. SO…
My Top Tips
1 – Think a day ahead!
2 – Keep a diary – this is vital to monitor food reactions, baby’s mood which may be linked to upsets in blood sugar levels, and of course it will be something to refer to years down the line or for when number 2 comes along!
3 – Introduce ONE food at a time. This is important to note down any unusual reactions (especially if there are signs of allergy or a history of allergy in the family).
4 - When you are introducing any new food to your baby, leave 3 days before starting any new foods. Signs of an allergic reaction include sneezing, runny nose, diarrhoea, vomiting, a rash, or ear infection.
5 – Rotate foods from day to day as much as possible.
6 – Be patient – mealtimes shouldn’t be rushed. Your baby will decide when he-she is full.
7 – Persevere with a food, if at first your baby doesn’t seem to like it. Try it again the next day, or in a few days or weeks.
8 – Try not to worry too much during the weaning process!
9 – When you are “out and about” the best foods to carry with you are bananas and ripe avocados. Both can be mashed together easily and will be tasty, nutritious and satisfying for your baby!
10 – If your baby gets a little constipated when you first introduce solids… don’t panic. It may take a while for the bowels to “wake-up” to solid food. Try giving kiwi fruit!
When a baby reaches the age of 6 months (usually having doubled his or her birth weight), the energy (calorie) requirements as well as the requirements for nutrients such as protein, iron (see below), selenium, zinc, vitamin A and D, & essential fatty acids, exceeds that which can be supplied by mother’s breast milk. Breast or quality follow-on milk should ideally be carried on until the age of one at least. DO NOT give cow’s milk to a baby until they are AT LEAST one year old. Some believe it should be nearer to 2 years old – I would say definitely 2 if there is any history of allergy in the family.
Build up foods over the next 4 months “loosely” in the following order…
Vegetables and fruits – see note below but generally enjoy introducing a whole variety! Fruits are easy to introduce as babies love the sweetness, and of course they learn what NATURAL sweetness is. Avoid fruit juices. Fruits also mix well with veggies, but try not to rely too heavily on fruit, just because you think your baby is more likely to want something sweet! Just watch some fruits with large pips such as raspberries – kiwis should be fine. Frozen fruits and veg such as peas are fine for your baby and can be very handy to use!
Pulses and beans – well cooked and well blended – try chickpeas, white beans, and puy lentils. These mash well and combine with savoury or sweet ingredients and add bulk to satisfy.
Cooked brown rice, quinoa, millet and tapioca – homemade porridges or purees using these grains are superior to shop-bought baby rice. If you need to use baby rice, make sure you buy organic and one that is FREE of fillers, e.g. Organix.
Lamb, poultry, and fish (especially oily fish such as wild trout and sea bass which have the lowest PCB and mercury levels) – introduce in small quantities at first, concentrating on organic meats if possible. You may find after introducing meat such as lamb or chicken, your baby’s mood and energy levels will soar!
At 6-9 months, iron requirements are thought to be 7-8mg/day. To give you an idea of how to reach this, mix and match the following foods that are good sources of iron…
4 dried apricots (best soaked and mashed) – 5mg
100g cooked red lentils – 2.4mg (combine with something sweet for an interesting dish)
100g cooked peas – 2mg
* 100g cooked spinach – 1.6mg (not to give until 1 year)
100g cooked chickpeas – 1.5mg
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses – 1.5mg
4 prunes – 1mg
100g cooked sweet potato – 1mg
150g cooked butternut squash – 1mg
½ avocado – 0.4mg
100g cooked cabbage – 0.4mg
1 tablespoon raisins – 0.4mg
100g cooked carrot – 0.4
Concentrate on vegetables as much as fruits in the first few weeks if you can. Try the “sweeter” veggies such as carrot, parsnip, peas, and sweet potato, butternut squash, asparagus, cauliflower and broccoli
Shop seasonally and locally whenever you can. Don’t avoid introducing a food that you don’t like or didn’t like as a child! Remember, with a baby - you are starting with clean palate, and NO understanding or experience of likes and dislikes. SO go ahead with Brussels sprouts, broccoli, pumpkin, leeks, swede or mushrooms – they may well surprise you! ALL these veggies are fantastically healthy in their own right!
It is generally advisable to avoid the “deadly nightshade family” of vegetables as they contain substances that a baby may be sensitive to. These include aubergines, tomatoes, potatoes and peppers. Wait until the first year is up!
After introducing these as single foods, try these "mashed" or "pureed" combinations…
Ripe avocado and banana
Ripe avocado and mango
Sweet potato and peas
Quinoa porridge and paw paw
Quinoa and kiwi
Beetroot and peas
Broccoli and peas
Orchard fruit puree - apple, ripe pear and peach
Apple, parsnip and butternut squash
Apricot and swede – don’t be afraid of combining fruit and veg – be imaginative!
Meat, fish and bean combos..
Chicken, rice or sweet potato and broccoli
Lamb, peas, sweet potato
Tuna salad - mashed and blended yellowfin tuna, avocado, natural yogurt, chopped chives and lemon juice!
Bean and root veg mash - swede, celeriac, sweet potato and organic baked beans (sweetened with apple juice)
Other foods that will form your baby’s “diet”… Suitably fortified foods – e.g Nanny Goat’s milk, organic baby rice, cooked brown rice, tapioca, millet and quinoa porridge. These cereals have very low allergenic potential, as well as being excellent sources of protein and carbohydrate – see above.
* Spinach is a good source of iron (as well as calcium and vitamin A), but is best left until the baby is 1 year old.
Blue-green algae and spirulina are green “superfoods” widely available in supplement form, and are useful additions for vegan/vegetarian babies, “atopic” babies, especially those not being introduced to cereals of any sorts until the ages of 1-2 years.
(N.B 10g of dried spirulina provides nearly 3mg of iron). For these babies, the best cereals to begin introducing are millet and quinoa, highly nutritious, gluten-free and excellent sources of protein and iron. Both can be cooked and served as porridge, with interesting additions, such as banana or papaya.
How much food should I give?
The following is a guide to the first 3 months of weaning – e.g. from 6-9 months of age.
Weeks 1 and 2 – Try 1-2 teaspoons during the lunchtime feed, halfway through the breast or bottle-feed.
Weeks 3 and 4 – As above + 1-2 teaspoons at breakfast halfway through bottle or breast feed. Increase lunchtime feed to 3-4 teaspoons.
Weeks 5 and 6 – 1-2 tsp at breakfast. Introduce 2 courses at lunchtime with 5-6 tsp, and introduce a teatime feed of 2-3 tsp.
Weeks 7 and 8 – As above + offer solids FIRST at lunchtime feed and then top-up with milk.
Weeks 9 and 10 – As above + solids only for lunch + water from a beaker - offer solids FIRST at teatime.
Weeks 11 and 12 – Solids only for lunch and tea. Give a beaker of water after lunch and tea.
How to Wean Your Baby from Breastfeeding - by Brooke Schuman
Weaning your child from breastfeeding is not the easiest thing to do. As I understand it, weaning a baby from breastfeeding is like quitting smoking or giving up chocolate. It's best not to quit cold turkey. It's not easy for you or the baby, but it has to be done. You can wean baby to a bottle or a cup. I recommend weaning baby to a sippy cup. Some babies will make it easier on you the mom, and start to lose interest in breastfeeding usually around nine months or so, and some babies need their nightly night cap, making it close to impossible for you to wean your baby. Well for all you moms out there, whose baby needs their nightly night cap, here are some tips to help make it easier for you to wean your baby from breastfeeding.
-Long before you even try to start weaning your baby from breastfeeding you should get baby used to drinking from an alternative source, a cup or a bottle; preferably a cup as mentioned earlier. Still continue to breastfeed but give baby either water, juice or breast milk from a cup. Try this at mealtimes when feeding baby solids or when giving baby a snack.
-For the stubborn baby who refuses to take a cup or bottle, it can be a good idea to skip a breastfeeding session once daily usually after breakfast or lunch, and only offer him/her what's in the cup. This may be hard for three or four days, but after that baby will get the idea. Once baby is used to drinking out of a cup once daily, you can skip another breastfeeding session and drink what's in the cup. Do this until you are only nursing once at night before bedtime.
-Wait at least a week in-between skipping a breastfeeding session, so both your baby and your breasts get used to the changes.
-If baby is sick or there is another event such as a move or a change in daycare postpone weaning baby for a couple weeks to ensure baby is okay and ready to wean.
-The last feedings to go are usually the morning and the night time feedings, I recommend cutting out the morning feeding first. Your baby will be hungry and will eat a good nutritious breakfast.
-When it is finally time to wean baby from the night time feedings, it is easier to have your breasts out of sight. Having your spouse put baby down for bed can make this transition easier. Tell your baby goodnight and hand baby off to dad. It takes a good week of dad putting baby to sleep for baby to get the hang of it. Before you put baby to bed make sure baby is full. Give baby a nighttime snack and a full cup of milk. When the week is complete go back to your regular bedtime routine only replacing breastfeeding with milk.
This isn't the easiest thing to do and it takes quite a bit of time, but with some patience it will happen for you and your baby. Good Luck!!
Baby weaning advice - by Alastair Taylor
It is now recommended that you wait until your baby is six months of age before starting to wean and introduce any solid food into their diet. Our baby seemed to be needing something extra from the age of about 18 weeks. (17 weeks is the minimum recommended age to introduce any solids)
Weaning at Six Months
It was a difficult decision to make, as all literature and also the health care visitor have to now say that you should wait until the baby is six months old before weaning. Our baby started waking more often in the night, and also went from having breast milk every four hours back to every two hours through the day. We decided this was a clear sign that our baby needed to have something extra in her diet. Still the health visitor recommended giving the baby formula milk on top of her breast milk and holding her out until six months!
We have always breast fed our baby, and decided that a more natural approach to solving her hunger was to start giving her a little solid food. The decision to start weaning was the best that we made! Within a week she was a lot more settled and happier than she’d ever been. It also seemed like a natural progression too, from breast milk to food – the idea of introducing formula just to satisfy some medical opinion seemed wrong.
Useful weaning food
To start with we gave our baby a little baby rice mixed with breast milk. She only had a couple of spoonfuls to start with, but soon decided she liked it and wanted more! It was hard to know how much to give her in the beginning. Were we giving her too much, or not enough? But we soon decided that she would tell us when she was full or if she was still hungry, and sure enough she did. When she is full, she just closes her mouth and turns her head, showing no interest whatsoever, and when she is still hungry she is like a sparrow in the nest with her mouth opened wide and wanting more!
Her weaning started with just a small meal at lunchtime. We continued this for about three weeks before introducing a second meal, which was breakfast. Within two weeks of introducing breakfast she went on to also having dinner. So by the age of six months she was having three meals a day. She is now nearly seven months old and also has a pudding after her meal! She seemed to grow stronger and more alert in leaps and bounds too, learning new skills and laughing at everything.
We started her on vegetables very early on in her weaning. Mixing them with baby rice to start with and then introducing them on their own. Butternut squash, sweet potato, carrot, parsnip, apples, pears and bananas were her first favourites. Every couple of days we would introduce something new. Roasted red peppers soon became a real favourite! We would only introduce new foods to her at lunchtime in case it didn’t agree, that way we wouldn’t be kept awake all night with a belly ache. After about six weeks we decided to have each vegetable served individually on her plate instead of mixed together, so that she could experience the different flavours on their own, and also mixed in a variety of combinations.
From the age of six months we started giving her bread, dairy, meat and eggs. So far our daughter loves just about everything we have introduced to her. She chews on a crust with vegemite, or bread sticks, and loves pureed pasta dishes and a beef and orange casserole that we tried. She is a little unsure of fish, and has only started eating mashed potato with cheese sauce on top!
We obviously kept up with the breast-feeding whilst introducing the solids to our baby. She has basically decided herself when she needs breast milk through the day. She soon dropped her lunchtime milk feed, but has only recently dropped her mid morning and afternoon milk feed at seven months old. It is recommended that babies should at this age still be having at least 500mls of breast or formula milk along with their solid food. Because we are breast feeding, it has been a concern as to how much milk she is taking, but because she is still having a good milk feed first thing in the morning, last thing at night and also still through the night, we figure she is still getting enough. We worked out that when expressing, we get approx 100mls from each breast, so based on this she is still getting at least 600mls approx a day.
The only equipment that we purchased for weaning was a hand held blender. We have managed to get by without a mouli, although it would have come in handy when trying to get the stringy fibres from spinach etc. We steamed all of our own vegetables, pureed them and then froze them in ice cube trays. The cubes could then be easily emptied into plastic bags and kept for up to eight weeks if they lasted that long! We have only recently bought some of the canned baby custards to add a little variety into our baby’s pudding selection!
From the beginning we offered cooled, boiled water from a training cup for our baby to drink with her meals. At first she didn’t really drink much, but she now really enjoys water, and on occasions diluted juice.
We did notice when we first introduced solids our baby became quite constipated. We panicked at first thinking “oh no we’ve introduced her to solids too early!”, but the health visitor pointed out that this happens to all babies when they are first introduced to solids, and not to worry.
A couple of things that seemed to help with the constipation were spinach, and stewed prunes mixed with dried apricots and an apple and pureed. We also added a little brown sugar to her water, which seemed to interest her more, as the more water they can drink the better it is for their digestive system. She didn’t need sugar in her water for long.
We are happy with the progress of weaning our baby, and are glad we introduced the solids to her when we did, as she clearly needed it. So far she has enjoyed almost all of the foods that we have introduced to her, and the ones she hasn’t we have tried her on again a few weeks later. She has had excellent weight gain and seems to be progressing in leaps and bounds (almost literally!)
Start weaning your baby - equipment - by Heather Owens
Knowing when to start weaning your baby is always going to involve a bit of guesswork, but mostly health professionals recommend you start to wean baby around 6 months of age. That's because your baby's mouth, jaw and digestive system are all ready for solid foods by then. Another possible idea is to start weaning when baby's weight has doubled, although this doesn't always mean baby is ready.
It's also important that you don't wait too long to start. Once baby is ready, you need to start the process of introducing solids, otherwise you may find that baby struggles to adapt to swallowing food. So even if baby doesn't seem keen at first, you need to persist.
Bibs - you'll need heaps of them! And don't waste your money on cloth bibs - they need to have a plastic or rubber backing on them. To begin with baby will probably spit out more food than she eats, and a cloth bib allows the moisture to soak straight through into baby's clothes. I also recommend bibs that are easy to put on and remove - my favourite were bibs with Velcro fastenings. As baby gains more muscular control, she may decide she doesn't like bibs, particularly if you have to fuss around for a while or pull it over her head.
Unbreakable bowls - it's quite probably that more than one bowlful of food is going to end up on the floor, so make sure the bowl you're using won't break.
Soft spoons - Soft, rubber or plastic spoons are also good for the same reason, and also because they won't hurt baby's mouth.
Leftover containers - make sure you have plenty of small containers with tight lids for storing leftovers. You should always separate the food into portions before you feed baby, otherwise the bacteria from baby's mouth will end up in the leftovers and make them spoil. Only feed baby one portion at a time, and throw out any that's left over from that meal.
Food processor - this is optional, but can make it quicker to puree food. Personally I always made do with a strong bowl and a fork, but with a food processor you can be certain you've removed all the lumps. One thing you must watch, though, is that over the course of a few months you need to add texture to baby's food, so you might find eventually that mashing the cooked food with a fork gives you a better texture when baby's a bit more experienced with solids.
High Chair - again, this is optional. Certainly when you're starting out, baby may still be developing the necessary muscles to hold her head up, so a high chair may be best left until she's around 12 months of age. Feeding baby in your lap has advantages, because with you holding baby you can minimise squirming. You can also try propping baby in a chair with cushions to support her head and neck.
Weaning is an ongoing process, but it's amazing how quickly the months fly by. Your baby will quickly become a toddler, and hopefully, because you've given her the right start, she'll be eating a wide, varied diet with lots of different tastes and textures.