First of all, breastmilk or infant formula are the best source of nutrition for your baby until they are 6 months old. Breastmilk in particular helps to protect your baby from infections. Also, at 6 months old your baby has reached a developmental stage where they are more capable of dealing with solid foods. They are better at moving food around their mouth, chewing and swallowing.
Weaning tips to get your baby on solids
Weaning is the process of introducing your baby to solid foods as an alternative to breastmilk or infant formula. The NHS advises that weaning should start when your baby is around 6 months old.
Gradually introducing solid foods into your little one’s diet is the first step towards promoting a lifetime of healthy eating, with the end goal being to replace the energy and nutrients in milk with a variety of food groups.
The first stage of weaning (also known as complementary feeding) involves feeding your baby a combination of breastmilk or formula and solid foods. This helps them to slowly get used to new tastes and textures as well as chewing and swallowing food.
It’s best to follow your baby’s cues on when and how much they want to eat. Learn when they are hungry and never force them to eat.
Remember it can take 10 tries or more before your baby gets used to a certain food and rejection at times is normal, so try to follow their pace and be patient!
This is a very common question from parents as they prepare for weaning. Both are recommended methods to try, depending on confidence and your baby’s stage of development.
Baby-led weaning – Allowing your baby to feed themselves by slowly introducing “complimentary” and easy to handle foods into their diet. It encourages oral development and control in an interactive way.
Spoon-fed weaning – Involves spoon feeding pureed and mashed food to your baby, progressing to more textured food over time. It’s a controlled and easier method of weaning that first times mums may feel more comfortable with.
Tip: If your baby has any dietary conditions or was born prematurely, speak to your GP for advice on when and how to start weaning.
Managing intolerances and allergies
It’s important to introduce a variety of food groups in small quantities, including dishes that contain gluten and lactose. But what if your baby is already showing signs of an intolerance or allergy? Here are our advisory steps to keeping your baby happy and healthy at mealtimes.
An experienced nurse or doctor should be your first port of call to discuss any signs or symptoms of a dietary intolerance.
If your baby is at risk of developing an intolerance, a simple and accurate test, like Outlook, screens your baby for four common conditions including lactose intolerance and coeliac disease. The results of the Outlook test identify predisposition to develop these conditions, and can assist your health care professional to reach a diagnosis.
If their post-natal test comes back as “high risk” for intolerances, there are plenty of food alternatives to match your baby’s dietary needs. However, always discuss your baby’s dietary requirements with your GP before introducing any alternative foods
|Gluten intolerance (Coeliac disease)||Foods containing wheat, barley & rye:
Pasta, bread, crackers, cereals, couscous
|Potatoes, rice, quinoa, beans, buckwheat, maize based cereals|
|Lactose intolerance||Foods containing Lactose:
milk, cheeses, whey, cream, yoghurt
|Soya, rice or almond milk, non-dairy creamers, margarine, oils|
|Bitter taste||Cruciferous vegetables:
Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, bok choy, horseradish, turnips
|Fresh fruit, peas, carrots, sweet potatoes, beans, lettuce, beetroot, onion|
Tip: Don’t want your child to miss out on their favourite foods? Look for gluten-free and lactose-free brands, or substituted ingredients on food packaging.
It’s very important to ensure that your baby’s weaning process is safe and hygienic. Taking the following steps will keep your baby healthy and happy as they try new foods;
- Avoid giving certain foods to your baby e.g. salty food, sugary snacks and drinks, saturated fat, mould-ripened cheese, seafood and whole nuts
- Wash your hands before preparing food and keep worktops clean
- Wash and peel raw vegetables or fruit
- Cut food into pieces to minimize the choking risk
- Remove pips, stones, bones and other hard textures
- Always supervise your baby while they are eating