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Top Tips for Weaning Your Baby
Weaning can be one of the most exciting times for a mother, and of course for baby too! New tastes, new sensations and new expressions… you will start to appreciate the saying: “Variety is the spice of life!”
However, it can be a bit stressful, and there is no doubt that if you want your baby to have the best possible and most nutritious start to life – you need to be organised. SO…
My best tips
1 – Think ahead a day!
2 – Keep a diary – this is important to monitor food reactions, baby’s mood which can be linked to disturbances in blood sugar levels and of course it will be something to refer to years later or when number 2 arrives!
3 – Introduce ONE food at a time. This is important to note any unusual reactions (especially if there are signs of allergy or a history of allergy in the family).
4 – When you introduce any new food to your baby, you must wait 3 days before starting any new food. Signs of an allergic reaction include sneezing, runny nose, diarrhea, vomiting, rash, or ear infection.
5 – Rotate food from day to day as much as possible.
6 – Be patient – meals should not be rushed. Your baby will decide when he/she is full.
7 – Hold off on food if your baby doesn’t seem to like it at first. Try 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” the best food to have with you is bananas and ripe avocados. Both can easily be mashed together 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 can take a while for the intestines to “wake up” to solid food. Try giving kiwi!
By the time a baby reaches 6 months (usually double its birth weight), the energy (calorie) needs as well as the requirements for nutrients such as protein, iron (see below), selenium, zinc, vitamins A and D, & essential fatty acids, exceed what can supplied by mother’s milk. Breast milk or quality formula milk should ideally be carried until the age of at least one year. DO NOT give cow’s milk to a baby until it is AT LEAST one year old. Some think it should be closer to 2 years old – I would definitely say 2 if there is any history of allergies 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 range! Fruits are easy to introduce as babies love the sweetness and of course they learn what NATURAL sweetness is. Avoid fruit juice. Fruits also mix well with vegetables, but try not to rely too much on fruit just because you think your baby is more likely to have something sweet! Just look for some fruits with large seeds, such as raspberries – kiwi should be fine. Frozen fruits and vegetables such as peas are fine for your baby and can be very convenient to use!
pulses and beans – well cooked and well mixed – try chickpeas, white beans and puy lentils. These are mashed well and combined with savory or sweet ingredients, adding bulk to satisfy.
Cooked brown rice, quinoa, millet and tapioca – homemade porridges or purées using these grains are superior to store-bought baby rice. If you must use baby rice, make sure you buy organic and one that is FREE of fillers, eg Organix.
Lamb, poultry and fish (especially oily fish such as wild trout and sea bass, which have the lowest PCB and mercury levels) – introduced in small amounts at first, concentrating on organic meats if possible. After introducing meat like lamb or chicken, your baby’s mood and energy level will skyrocket!
After 6-9 months, the iron requirement is thought to be 7-8 mg/day.
To give you an idea of how to achieve 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
- * 100 g cooked spinach – 1.6 mg (must not be given before 1 year)
- 100g cooked chickpeas – 1.5mg
- 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses – 1.5mg
- 4 prunes – 1 mg
- 100g boiled sweet potato – 1mg
- 150g cooked butternut squash – 1mg
- ½ avocado – 0.4 mg
- 100g of boiled cabbage – 0.4mg
- 1 tablespoon raisins – 0.4mg
- 100 g boiled carrot – 0.4
Concentrate on vegetables as much as fruit for the first few weeks if you can. Try the “sweeter” vegetables such as carrot, parsnip, peas and sweet potato, butternut squash, asparagus, cauliflower and broccoli
Shop seasonally and locally when 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 start with a clean palate and NO understanding or experience of likes and dislikes. SO get started with Brussels sprouts, broccoli, pumpkin, leeks, turnip greens or mushrooms – they may well surprise you! ALL of these vegetables are amazingly healthy in their own right!
It is generally advisable to avoid the “deadly nightshade family” of vegetables, as they contain substances to which a baby may be sensitive. These include eggplants, tomatoes, potatoes and peppers. Wait until the first year is over!
After introducing these as single foods, try these “mashed” or “puréed” combinations…
- Ripe avocado and banana
- Ripe avocado and mango
- Sweet potato and peas
- Quinoa porridge and pawpaw
- Quinoa and kiwi
- Beetroot and peas
- Broccoli and peas
- Fruit mash in orchard – apple, ripe pear and peach
- Apple, parsnip and butternut squash
- Apricot and turnip – don’t be afraid to combine fruit and vegetables – be imaginative!
- Combinations of meat, fish and beans..
- Chicken, rice or sweet potato and broccoli
- Lamb, peas, sweet potato
- Tuna salad – mashed and mixed yellowfin tuna, avocado, natural yoghurt, chopped chives and lemon juice!
- Bean and root vegetable mash – turnip, celeriac, sweet potato and organic beans (sweetened with apple juice)
Other foods that will make up your baby’s “diet”…
Suitable fortified foods – e.g. Nanny Goat’s milk, organic baby rice, cooked brown rice, tapioca, millet and quinoa porridge. These cereals have a 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 child 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 who are not introduced to grains of any kind until age 1-2 years.
(NB 10 g of dried spirulina provides almost 3 mg of iron).
For these babies, the best grains to start 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 for the first 3 months of weaning – for example from 6-9 months of age.
Weeks 1 and 2 – Try 1-2 teaspoons during lunch, halfway through the breast or bottle.
Weeks 3 and 4 – As above + 1-2 tsp at breakfast halfway through bottle or breastfeeding. Increase the lunch feed to 3-4 teaspoons.
Weeks 5 and 6 – 1-2 teaspoons at breakfast. Introduce 2 dishes at lunchtime with 5-6 teaspoons, and introduce a teatime feed of 2-3 teaspoons.
Weeks 7 and 8 – As above + offer solids FIRST at lunch feed then top up with milk.
Weeks 9 and 10 – As above + solids only at lunch + water from a cup – offer solids FIRST at tea time.
Weeks 11 and 12 – Solids only for lunch and tea. Give a glass of water after lunch and tea.
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