‘Weaning’ is just another name for starting your baby on solid foods. Experts recommend that you start weaning when your baby is six months old if breastfed and 4-6 months old if formula fed. And don’t give your baby any solid foods before he or she is four months old (17 weeks). If you wean too early, you put baby at risk of developing allergies, especially is there is a history in the family.
How long should weaning take?
You should think of weaning as a gradual process – there are several different stages your baby will pass through before they can eat the same foods as the rest of the family. Baby’s first foods will be very soft in texture, and bland in taste. In the very early days, you’re really just trying to get your baby used to eating from a spoon. As time goes on, your baby will take foods with a lumpier texture and a stronger taste. Eventually, your baby should be eating a variety of nutritious foods with the rest of the household.
What foods are best?
It is best to start baby on bland foods such as baby rice. The food should be of a runny consistency. Remember your baby has been used to just drinking milk up to the point so it will take time for baby to get used to the concept of food. Blended boiled vegetables such as carrots are also popular with babies as are blended fruits such as apple, mashed pawpaw, watermelon and pear.
Top tips to get you started
- One at a time. Introduce one food at a time. Allow your baby to get used to this food before starting another
- Keep it clean. Anything you use to feed your baby needs to be kept very clean
- Test it yourself. When you’re feeding your baby a warm meal, heat it thoroughly, let it cool, stir it well and then test it yourself before giving it to them
- Pace it. It takes time for your baby to learn how to move food around their mouth and swallow it, so try not to rush them. Let your baby set the pace
- Try not to force-feed. Most babies know when they’ve had enough to eat. If you spend too much time persuading your baby to eat, they may start to refuse food as a way of getting attention
- Let your baby help! At some point, your child will show an interest in feeding him or herself. While it’s a messy business, this is something to be encouraged! Allow your baby to hold one spoon, while you try to spoon in most of their meal with another spoon
- Cook it yourself. Give your baby food you’ve prepared yourself as often as you can. It’s cheaper than buying jars of baby food and it means your baby will get used to eating like the rest of the family. Don’t add any salt (or sauces containing salt) to food your baby will be eating
- Safe re-heating. If feeding baby food that has been stored frozen, it must be heated to piping hot to kill all bugs and then allowed cool to before giving to baby
- When you feed your baby re-heated food, make sure to throw out any leftovers – it’s not safe to reheat foods more than once
- Variety is the spice of life. Over time, offer your baby a wide range of foods that you and your family normally eat. This can help to avoid fussiness later on.
FOODS YOU CAN TRY
Mashed potatoes with milk or egg yolk, Beans porridge with palm oil
Pap with milk, soy milk or groundnut paste
Vegetable soup (not spicy), Yoghurt, Baked beans, Lentils, Meat stock can be used to boil rice, potatoes etc
* Be creative and remember that weaning is a slow and often times frustrating process, try and endure