Basics of baby nutrition: getting ready for weaning

Hello! I am Hannah, founder of @pregnancyandbeyond – I am so excited to be part of Kidso’s growing community and can’t wait to share more with you over the coming months about all things Nutrition – whether you are pregnant, a first, second or third time parent, and whether you have children who love or hate food – we have so much lined up to help inspire you to stay on top of your families health & wellbeing! 

What is weaning?

Weaning is the process of introducing babies to solid foods –alongside breast or formula milk. How we feed our children can impact their patterns of eating later on in life and the process should inspire babies to learn to enjoy a variety of foods. There are two schools of thought on weaning: baby-led weaning (BLW) and spoon feeding. 

Baby Led Weaning encourages babies to self-feed, without the use of mashed foods or cutlery. It can be the slightly messier option (see one of our Kidso babies below!); it often involves eating with your baby, at the same time, at the same table and sharing the same food. 

Image courtesy Hannah Waidhofer

Spoon feeding begins with spoon fed purees however it is thought that spoon feeding is left over from the days when parents were advised to start solids at 3-4 months of age (when babies were too young to feed themselves!)  Most babies will instinctively start to feed themselves at 6 months old (which is in line with when the World Health Organization recommends that babies should start on solids)

Choose the method that feels best for you – a combined approach can also work well as some babies take to finger foods straight away, whereas others might prefer to have new foods off a spoon initially.

When can I start?

There are a combination of signs to look out for that usually present by 6 months such as:

  • able to sit up and hold head and neck steady
  • able to swallow food – and has lost the tongue thrust
  • able to coordinate eyes, hands and mouth – ie able to look at, pick up and intentionally put things in mouth themselves 
  • showing interest in what you are eating

If you think your little one might be ready for solid foods BEFORE 6 months, it’s worthwhile checking with your health visitor or GP first. It’s important not to offer foods before 17 weeks of age as they are unlikely to be developmentally ready.

What about milk?

Whether you offer purees or finger foods, your baby should continue their usual milk consumption and naturally cut back over time. Weaning is more about allowing your baby to explore tastes, textures and flavours rather than nutrition, and so breast milk or formula will still provide the majority of calories and nutrients.

  • 6-9 months: a time to learn how to eat
  • 9-12 months: solids will increase and milk intake will starts to reduce
         
  • 12 months+: eating is established and solid foods become the main source of nutrition

What do I need?

Always stay with your baby when they are eating and start at a quiet time of day – when your baby is hungry but not starving. It is good to start with one meal time per day and avoid introducing new foods in the evenings. 

  • Highchair
  • Bibs (long sleeve ones are great!)
  • Baby cup or beaker
  • Food steamer
  • Blender
  • Baby safe plates/ cutlery
  • Ice cube trays
  • Splashmat for floor     
  • Cloths for wiping (we love @cheekywipes)