Start4 life Weaning campaign
Posted on February 06
Weaning can be tricky when do start what to feed. The new Start4life campaign has some great advise
From around 6 months
To start with, your baby only needs a small amount of solid food, once-a-day, at a time that suits you both.
You can start weaning with single vegetables and fruits – try mashed, or soft cooked sticks of parsnip, broccoli, potato, yam, sweet potato, carrot, apple or pear. You could also try baby rice mixed with your baby’s usual milk. Make sure any cooked food has cooled right down before offering it to your baby.
Gradually increase the amount and variety of food your baby eats, offering a range of foods from the different food groups (so your baby gets enough energy and nutrients).
Include vegetables that aren’t so sweet, such as broccoli, cauliflower and spinach – this will help your baby get used to a range of flavours (rather than just the sweeter ones like carrots and sweet potato). This can help prevent them being fussy eaters as they grow up.
Remember, babies don’t need salt or sugar added to their food (or cooking water). Babies shouldn’t eat salty foods as it isn’t good for their kidneys and sugar can cause tooth decay.
Smooth or lumpy?
To help your baby get used to different textures and tastes quickly, try moving on to mashed and finger foods (from purees or blended) as soon as they’re ready. This helps them learn how to chew, move solid food around their mouth and swallow solid foods. Give your baby a spoon and let them try feeding themselves - you might need to stick a mat under the highchair though!
Babies take different amounts of time to get used to lumps, but it’s an important skill they need to learn. Just keep offering them lumpy textures from around 6 to 7 months, and stay with them so you can be sure they are swallowing it safely.
Finger foods help get them used to different textures, they love picking bits of food up and feeding themselves – this is also good for developing their hand and eye coordination.
When your baby’s had enough, they’ll let you know by firmly closing their mouth or turning their head away.
What is baby-led weaning?
Baby-led weaning means offering your baby only finger foods and letting them feed themselves from the start (rather than spoon feeding them pureed or mashed foods). You can offer a range of small, finger-sized, pieces of food.
Some parents prefer baby-led weaning to spoon feeding, while others combine a bit of both. There’s no right or wrong way – the most important thing is that your baby eats a wide variety of food and gets all the nutrients they need.
Should I still give my baby breast milk or infant formula?
Yes. To begin with they will still be getting most of their energy and nutrients from breast milk or infant formula. Breast milk or infant formula should be their main drink during the first year, you can continue breastfeeding for as long as you both want. Remember your baby’s tummy is tiny and fills up quickly – so offer milk feeds after solids.
During meal times, offer your baby sips of water from an open or free-flow cup. Using an open cup, or a free-flow cup without a valve, will help your baby learn to sip and is better for your baby’s teeth.
If your baby is younger than 6 months, it’s important to sterilise the water by boiling it first and then letting it cool right down.
Sweet drinks like squash, fizzy drinks, milkshakes and fruit juice can have lots of sugar, so avoid these to help prevent tooth decay – even baby and toddler drinks can be sugary.
Cows’ milk is not a suitable drink until your baby is 12 months old, but it can be used in cooking or mixed with food from 6 months of age.