Getting ready to introduce your baby to solid foods can feel overwhelming but don’t worry, we have you covered with our Weaning-Off guide.
When a baby starts to approach six months many parents think about weaning off liquid foods.
Introducing your little bundle of joy to solid foods can be very daunting for new parents and often creates a great deal of tension in the household.
What foods should you introduce? Should you give your baby puree, or head down the baby-led path? What sized portions should you be giving your baby? What are the best foods to introduce first and how? Should you be aware of allergies?
Lots of questions, right?
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common and effective weaning methods.
Signs Your Baby Is Ready for Weaning Off
The World Health Organisation (WHO) places six months as a suitable time to think about introducing solids (complementary food) but why is it recommended to start weaning off your baby at six months?
Well, there are three signs that your baby is ready to start weaning off.
- Your baby has developed hand-to-eye coordination and can look at food, pick it up and place it towards its mouth
- Your little one can stay upright in a sitting position with their head held steady, for at least a few seconds
- There is no evidence of any tongue-thrust reflex (your baby can swallow milk now rather than spitting some of it out)
These signs tend to be seen in the development of a baby at around six months of age.
What Type of Food Should I Use for Weaning Off?
When you feel your baby is at the right stage of their development to start weaning off you can decide on the types of food you want to try as first foods. There are lots of books available to help you make a decision on how to wean off and you can't go too far wrong starting with Ella's Kitchen, The First Foods Book.
Scientific research recommends that parents and carers start thinking about introducing veggies as the first ‘tasters’ for a baby. It is best to concentrate on one vegetable at a time so your baby can learn to recognise the individual flavour.
Some ideal first foods to try are parsnip, sweet potato, butternut squash and carrots. Broccoli is also a real winner. You can either cook them so they are soft or mash them into a puree. The choice is yours.
If you want to try fruits you can think about cooked pears or apples.
The key is to make sure you introduce new foods as soon as your baby starts to become interested. Variety is very important.
Give your baby the time to adjust to the new flavours. Breast milk and infant formula can be very plain so your baby will take time to get used to all these new flavours.
Remember, no added salt or sugar!
What Is Baby-Led Weaning Off?
Another method of weaning off is known as baby-led weaning off.
Baby-led weaning off is a weaning method that has been used for generations and involves allowing the baby to feed themselves at the start of the process. It is thought that this approach encourages independence.
Baby-led-weaning off involves offering your baby lots of finger-only foods. They then decide what they touch, pick up and eat.
This approach obviously differs from parent or carer feeding baby soft or blended food from a spoon but there is no right and wrong when it comes to weaning.
Some parents like to puree healthy solid food, other parents like to use baby-led methods and some use a mixture of both!
How Much Food Should You Offer Your Baby?
Lots of parents become worried and anxious about how much food their baby is consuming when weaning off starts.
Remember, babies have very small tiny teeny-weeny stomachs so try to relax.
When you first start weaning off don’t expect your little one to start ploughing through broccoli or butternut squash like an adult.
One or two teaspoons, initially, is a fantastic result.
You don’t want to overfeed your baby so make sure you look out for the signs that your baby has eaten enough. These signs include turning their head away from the food, taking hold of the spoon and keeping their mouths closed.
If you notice these signs don’t carry on feeding as it will only upset your little bundle of joy. Babies are fantastic at self-regulating their appetite so don’t worry about your baby eating enough. They are greedy little things the best of time!
Should I Wean Off My Baby at Family Meals?
Yes. It takes time to prepare foods for your baby when you start the weaning-off process. Include your baby in your regular mealtimes as soon as possible.
You want your baby to be part of your family's eating routine at mealtimes. Make extra (baby-appropriate foods) for your baby when you are preparing to eat with your family.
It's important that your baby starts to understand the routine. Embedding breakfast, lunch and dinner times into your baby's schedule is a good thing to do. You want your baby to develop healthy eating habits.
What Baby Plates and Bowls Are Best for Weaning Off?
It doesn’t matter if you decide to do baby-led weaning or spoon feeding, at some point your baby will want to feed themselves. This is a beautiful experience for everyone apart from your super clean walls and kitchen floor! Your baby needs to learn where its mouth lives and this process, as hilarious as it is to watch, will mean food ends up everywhere.
The sanity of your weaning journey can be vastly improved by investing in the best baby bowls and plates for weaning off young children. Buy cheap buy twice so investing in the right quality plates and bowls today could save you fortune over time.
We recommend non-slip suction bowls, like these gorgeous Bamboo Sets from Eco Rascals. These beautiful plastic-free bamboo tableware gift sets are a fantastic starter set for encouraging kids to eat independently. Each bamboo tableware set comes with a spoon, cup, bowl and a very cool animal themed plate. The cup has a silicone straw feeder and arrives with two straws.
Each bamboo tableware set is made from 100% silicone with no plastic, BPA, PVC, lead or phthalates. Better still they are super simple to keep clean and the airtight suction bases create a strong grip on highchairs and tables helping to reduce mess. These sets are also FDA approved.
Should I Include Salt and Sugar?
No, absolutely not.
If you start to introduce salt and sugar into your baby’s diet when they start getting used to solid food then they will develop an unhealthy relationship with these ingredients.
Do your best to avoid subjecting your baby to foods with salt and sugar.
How Do I Deal With Weaning off and Food Allergies?
Allergy UK recommends that foods with high allergenic tendencies (think dairy, nuts etc) can be introduced at six months.
These foods should be introduced one at a time and you should leave a gap of four days between foods so you can quickly identify what food may be causing an allergic reaction, in the event that your baby suffers one.
If your family has a history of suffering from food allergies talk to your GP before commencing with a weaning programme that includes high-risk allergenic foods. You can also find some further advice from the NHS on weaning and food allergies here.
You read more of our Parenting Tips For Babies and Toddlers here.