If you’re feeling daunted by this next stage in your baby’s development, my baby weaning guide and top 5 tips should help to make the process easier.
As a nutritional therapist I have been giving weaning talks for over twenty years and have helped many hundreds of parents make the transition to solid foods with their baby. My passion has always been to encourage healthy eating and a love of good food. Whether you’re going for spoon feeding or a baby led approach, my top 5 tips below are a great start. If you want to learn more about weaning your baby you can get my The When, What and How of Healthy Baby Weaning Guide online (details below).
1.Homemade – ready made baby foods are great for when you’re out and about or short of time but making your baby’s food yourself has many benefits:
– It will be much cheaper than commercial baby foods, as you are not paying for packaging and marketing. If you are pureeing or batch cooking for the family you can make in bulk which saves money too.
– It will be fresher (most baby food is pasteurised and stored for longer periods) and will therefore be more nutritious, retaining heat sensitive vitamins and essential fatty acids.
– Although there have been huge improvements in commercial baby foods, which are a far cry from the homogeneous, bland mush of yesteryear, your homemade offering will taste much better.
– It gets your baby used to eating what you eat, rather than separate “baby food”, and encourages good eating habits.
– You know exactly what has gone into it and can avoid any ingredients to which you baby is sensitive, without checking ingredients labelling.
2. Variety – from six months, including a large selection of foods is important for several reasons:
– It ensures a wide range of nutrients are eaten, as a limited diet means certain nutrients may be lacking.
– It reduces the development of food sensitivities, by allowing you to rotate food and avoid an over-reliance on frequently eaten foods.
– Babies are exposed to a wider palate and are less likely to be fussy eaters who accept only a limited range of foods.
Try to include different textures as well as tastes. Adding finely grated apple, tiny pasta shapes or amaranth grain to puree can be a great way to introduce uniform texture to babies who tend to spit out lumps.
3. Organic – it’s better for the environment and also for your baby:
– Their still developing nervous system and immature detoxification systems mean they are more vulnerable to the potentially toxic effect of pesticides and herbicides.
-The body tends to store pesticide residues in the fat cells out of harms way. As a babies water to fat ratio is higher than adults, more pesticides can be left to circulate.
– Babies eat a larger quantity of food and take in more fluid relative to their size which can lead to greater exposure.
– Products from animals raised organically avoids residues of hormones and antibiotics.
– Some studies show higher nutrient content in foods grown using organic methods.
If cost or availability is an issue choose organic for those with the highest residues such as apples, berries and salad vegetables. Foods with lower residues tend to have inedible skins such as butternut squash, pumpkin, avocados, bananas, sweetcorn, pineapple and peas.
4. Keep a food diary – lack of sleep and baby brain can make it difficult to remember what you did yesterday, let alone what your baby ate! Keeping a diary can help you stay on track of which foods you have introduced. Include the date, the food tried and make a note of any observations – favourite foods, dislikes and any reactions to foods. If your baby dislikes a food don’t discount it. Research shows that babies (and children) sometimes need repeated exposure to a food to develop a liking for it. After 10 tries 62% accept a new food. I’m not talking force feeding here, just gentle persuasion. The food diary can remind you how many times they’ve tried each food and it also makes a lovely memento of weaning your baby.
5. Enjoy the process – weaning is the next exciting milestone and it can be great fun seeing your baby discover the world of food. However, it is much easier having only milk feeds to consider and you may find the thought of weaning daunting. Find out what you can in advance, then take it one day at a time and learn as you go. Be led by your baby, they are all different so go at their pace and remember it is not a competition. Yes, there will be mess! If this bothers you invest in a bowl with suckers, dress your baby in something wipe clean (or naked in hot weather) and put an easy clean mat or newspaper under the highchair at mealtimes. Yes, there will be waste and sometimes refusal to eat your lovingly prepared food. This is a short period of time and the more relaxed you are the more relaxed your baby will be too. Try to share mealtimes where you can, lead by example and never let mealtimes become a battle ground.
If you would like more tips and advice (from which foods to include and which to avoid, how to progress with introducing foods and dropping milk feeds, reducing the risk of allergies and intolerances, vegan babies and recommendations for the best weaning books) get my When, What and How of Healthy Baby Weaning Guide when you place an order for any Nom Nom Baby product. Simply request your spoon feeding or baby led handout in the comments box at checkout.
I regularly share nutrition tips for babies and children on Instagram or Facebook too. Follow @nomnomskincare
Jayne Russell has over twenty years of experience as a pre’ and postnatal massage and nutritional therapist and is the founder of Nom Nom – award winning, certified organic pregnancy and baby skincare. Sign up for your free skincare guide “10 Steps to Super Healthy Baby Skin” at nomnomskincare.com