07:00 (GMT+2), Fri, 19 October 2012
The steps involved in introducing your baby to solid food aren’t set in stone and you may find that she progresses more quickly or more slowly than other babies of a similar age. Some days may be better than others, too, and there’ll also be times when she wants only her usual milk. It helps to understand the basics of weaning and the theory behind it. Armed with knowledge, you’ll be able to develop a method that works for you and your baby.
What’s weaning all about
Weaning is a gentle process, involving slowly and sensitively replacing your baby’s regular milk with delicious, nutritious food, which will fill her with energy and encourage optimum growth and development. You have a window of opportunity between six and 12 months, when your baby will tend to eat pretty well, so take advantage of this to introduce a variety of new flavours that will hopefully set her on a path of healthy eating for life.
Is your baby ready for weaning?
A great deal of emphasis has been placed on weaning babies at the ‘right’ time and there are good grounds for this. However, before you embark on those first tastes of solid food, it’s important that your baby is ready:
• Breastfeeding for the first six months of your baby’s life is recommended.
• Breast milk is a complete food for babies, providing them with nutrients as well as liquid to keep them hydrated.
• That said, introducing your baby to solids is about offering new tastes and some babies are ready earlier than others, although solids shouldn’t be given before 17 weeks.
Signs your baby is ready
• Your baby will start to show some interest in what you’re eating and perhaps reach out and taste it.
• She may be hungrier than usual, often unsatisfied after her normal milk feed, and possibly waking in the night, when she previously slept through.
• It’s worth nothing that a growth spurt commonly occurs between three and four months, which may cause her to wake more at night and perhaps feed more frequently, so don’t assume at this age that she’s ready for solid’s.
• Other signs that she’s ready include:
o Holding her head up; controlling movements
o Attempting to put things into her mouth
o Making chewing motions
o Chewing on her fingers or fists.
The four to six month window
• From 17 weeks onwards, may babies can tolerate first tastes and it’s important to introduce solid food by 24 weeks. Here’s why:
o Your baby has the digestive enzymes required
o His kidneys can cope with solid foods
o His iron reserves begin to deplete around six months and it becomes increasingly important that he gets some iron from his diet. Iron is an important factor in brain development.
o His jaw and tongue have developed to cope with eating and swallowing foods as well as being good preparation to start speaking
o Up to six months, babies readily accept new tastes, flavours, and textures. If you leave it too late, your baby may become more resistant. Breastfed babies will be used to a variety of flavours through their mother’s milk and may take to new foods more easily than bottle-fed babies.
Annabel's weaning starter tips
Annabel's weaning recipes
Annabel Karmel, solids. weaning