Weaning your baby can be a stressful business; if you let it. If you take it easy, weaning will be the most interesting time of your mothering as you get to watch your baby’s personality around food develop. Don’t worry about those publications telling you to avoid ready-made foods and what not to do, weaning is a personal journey and only the parent knows what is best for their baby every time. One thing you should remember is to introduce the right food at the right time, and start it early if you want them grabbing and biting at six months. Here are the tips you need to pull off your own perfect weaning experience.
There is no right or wrong way to wean
Some people say spoon-led is the best weaning method while others say baby-led is the best but they are all wrong. The best way to wean your baby is in the middle. Give your baby the best food for them as you have at the moment and in the form they like best. Most parents will tell you that pureeing when you want them to eat more food and allowing them to pick at finger foods when snacking works great. It is a baby we are dealing with here and the best way to wean them is the one that works for you.
Be ready for a mess
Forget those pictures on parenting websites and magazines of clean babies munching on clean slices of fruits, that is not close to what weaning is all about. Babies are messy when they start eating and if they don’t smear their entire faces and torso with the food, they might puke just after you have wiped them clean. Their poop also becomes solid and smelly when they start eating solid food so don’t be surprised by that. Some foods also cause babies to have diarrhoea and that means they might poop right after you have changed the diaper or when in between the changes and that is all part of being a parent.
Fibre foods help reduce constipation
Constipation is a bigger problem than a messy eater when it comes to weaning which is why you have to be patient with your baby. You shouldn’t introduce too much solid food because that may interfere with their gut causing constipation. You need to ensure they hydrate properly while weaning, which means water and milk have to be part of every meal. Fibre-rich foods such as bananas, avocado and potatoes also help prevent constipation as opposed to what some people assume that fibre causes constipation.
Critical nutrients should be introduced early
Babies develop tastes for different foods at different times but that doesn’t mean you only feed them the foods they seem to like. You need to introduce critical nutrients in Vitamins, proteins and carbohydrates as well as calcium, iron, Omega 3 and other vital nutrients from that early age. That means the meat, eggs, salmon, nuts and nut butter don’t have to wait until your baby is 12 months old. You have to find a way of ensuring they get a balanced diet at every meal with vegetables, legumes such as lentils and beans and proteins such as red meat being part of their diet.
Every spitting doesn’t mean rejection
When babies suckle, they tend to push out their tongue and they don’t stop just because you are giving them solid food. You will therefore notice that your baby will spit at certain times when being fed. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are full or don’t like the food. When babies are full, they will just stop eating and you will know. Don’t stop giving them certain foods just because they reject them at first either. It is a journey and you have to try again and again until you get it right.
Bring the baby to the table
Babies learn from what they see other children and adults do and that means they need to watch everyone eat. You should therefore create a schedule for your baby to eat and try to match it with that of the rest of your household. That allows you to give your baby a taste of some of the safe foods everyone else is eating and as they wean, everyone in the house will play a role in teaching your baby how to enjoy solid food.
Mixing food with breast milk or formula helps
Babies tend to have a sweet tooth because they only feed on lactose for the first four to five months of their lives. Introducing new tastes means that they learn slowly and so milk is needed to bring some familiarity to the taste of food. You should therefore add breast milk or formula to some of the purees you are giving them to help your baby enjoy the food without judging the taste as strange.
Introduce allergenic foods slowly
Introducing possibly allergenic foods early helps reduce the risk of allergic reactions. However, introducing more than one at a time could cause an explosive reaction and you won’t know which food is responsible. You should therefore try one at a time starting with nuts and nut butter because peanut butter allergy is what affects most people.
Beware of choking hazards
You can’t throw caution to the wind just because your baby has started eating solid food. You still have to be vigilant because many children are choked by foods, often too big or hard for them to swallow. When you choose baby-led weaning, you have to ensure that the food you give them is truly bite-sized. Babies also tend to grab at everything and they put it in their mouths. You have to keep food packages and other choking hazards out of their reach and take better charge of what they put in their mouths.
Make it fun
Babies eat better when they are not crying or sulking their way through a meal. You have to create an environment that encourages them to be happy as smiling babies always accept another bite. It is therefore important to get entertainment that your baby enjoys going before you start feeding them. You should also stop feeding them when they become fussy to avoid creating an apathy that won’t help with their future meals.