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Top Tips for Weaning Your Baby
Weaning can be one of the most exciting times for Mom, and of course for baby too! New tastes, new sensations and new expressions… you will begin to appreciate the saying: “Variety is the spice of life!”
It can be a bit stressful though, and there’s no doubt that if you want your baby to have the best possible and most nutritious start in life – you DO need to be organised. SO…
My Top Tips
1 – Think a day ahead!
2 – Keep a diary – this is indispensable to monitor food reactions, baby’s mood, which can be linked to upsets in blood sugar levels, and of course it will be something to report years down the line or for when the number 2 comes!
3 – Introduce ONE food at a time. This is important to note any unusual reactions (especially if there are signs of allergy or a history of allergy in the family).
4 – When you introduce any new food to your baby, leave 3 days before starting new foods. Signs of an allergic reaction include sneezing, runny nose, diarrhea, vomiting, rash, or ear infection.
5 – Rotate foods from day to day as much as possible.
6 – Be patient – mealtimes should not be rushed. Your baby will decide when he-she is full.
7 – Persist with food if at first your baby doesn’t seem to like it. Try it again the next day, or in a few days or weeks.
8 – Try not to worry too much during the weaning!
9 – When you are “outside” the best foods to take with you are bananas and ripe avocados. Both can be combined easily and will be delicious, nutritious and satisfying for your baby!
10 – If your baby fusses a little when you first introduce solids… don’t panic. It can take time for the intestines to “wake up” to solid food. Try giving kiwifruit!
When a baby reaches the age of 6 months (usually having doubled its birth weight), the energy (calorie) requirements as well as the requirements for nutrients such as protein, iron (see below), selenium, zinc, vitamins A and D, & essential fatty acids, exceeds what can be provided by breast milk. Breast or good quality colostrum should ideally last until the age of one year at least. Do NOT give cow’s milk to a baby before they are AT LEAST one year old. Some believe it should be closer to 2 years – I would say definitely 2 if there is any history of allergy in the family.
Build foods for the next 4 months “loosely” in the following order…
Vegetables and fruit – see note below but generally enjoy introducing a whole variety! Fruits are easy to introduce because babies love sweetness, and of course they learn what NATURAL sweetness is. Avoid fruit juices. Fruits also mix well with vegetables, but try not to rely too much on fruit just because you think your baby is more likely to want something sweet! Just look at some fruit with big pipes like raspberries – kiwis should be fine. Frozen fruits and vegetables like peas are good for your baby and can be very convenient to use!
Pulses and beans – well cooked and well mixed – try chickpeas, white beans and puy lentils. These mash well and combine with savory or sweet ingredients and add big to satisfy.
Cooked brown rice, quinoa, millet and tapioca – homemade porridges or purees using these grains are better than store bought baby rice. If you need to use baby rice, make sure you buy organic and one that is FREE of fillers, eg. Organix.
Lamb, poultry, and fish (especially oily fish such as wild trout and sea gills which have the lowest PCB and mercury levels) – introduce in small amounts at first, focusing on organic meats if possible. You may find after introducing meat like lamb or chicken, your baby’s mood and energy levels will soar!
At 6-9 months, iron requirements are thought to be 7-8mg/day.
To give you an idea of how to achieve this, mix and match the following foods that are good sources of iron…
- 4 dried apricots (best soaked and cleaned) – 5mg
- 100 g cooked red lentils – 2.4 mg (combine with something sweet for an interesting dish)
- 100 g cooked peas – 2 mg
- * 100 g of cooked spinach – 1.6 mg (do not give up to 1 year)
- 100 g cooked chickpeas – 1.5 mg
- 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses – 1.5 mg
- 4 plums – 1 mg
- 100 g cooked sweet potatoes – 1 mg
- 150 g cooked pumpkin – 1 mg
- ½ avocado – 0.4 mg
- 100 g cooked cabbage – 0.4 mg
- 1 tablespoon raisins – 0.4 mg
- 100 g cooked carrot – 0.4
Focus on vegetables as much as fruit in the first few weeks if you can. Try the “sweeter” vegetables like carrot, parsnip, peas and sweet potato, squash, asparagus, cauliflower and broccoli.
Buy seasonally and locally whenever you can. Don’t avoid introducing food you don’t like or didn’t like as a child! Remember, with a baby – you start with a clean palate, and NO understanding or experience of likes and dislikes. SO go ahead with Brussels sprouts, broccoli, courgette, leek, swede or mushrooms – they might surprise you! ALL of these vegetables are amazingly healthy on their own!
In general it is advisable to avoid the “deadly lone family” of vegetables because they contain substances to which a baby may be sensitive. These include eggplants, tomatoes, potatoes and peppers. Wait until the first year is over!
After introducing these as single foods, try these “purified” or “purified” combinations…
- Ripe avocado and banana
- Ripe avocado and mango
- Sweet potato and peas
- Quinoa Porridge and Pie Pie
- Quinoa and kiwi
- Beetroot and peas
- Broccoli and peas
- Fruit puree – apple, ripe pear and peach
- Apple, parsnip and pumpkin
- Apricot and swede – don’t be afraid to combine fruits and vegetables – be imaginative!
- Combos of meat, fish and beans..
- Chicken, rice or sweet potato and broccoli
- Lamb, peas, sweet potato
- Tuna salad – chopped and mixed yellowfin tuna, avocado, natural yogurt, chopped chives and lemon juice!
- Bean and root mash – swede, celeriac, sweet potato and organic beans (sweetened with apple juice)
Other foods that will make up your baby’s “diet”…
Properly fortified foods – e.g. Nanny Goat milk, organic baby rice, cooked brown rice, tapioca, millet and quinoa porridge. These cereals have a very low allergenic potential, and are also excellent sources of protein and carbohydrate – see above.
* Spinach is a good source of iron (as well as calcium and vitamin A), but is best left until the baby is 1 year old.
Blue-green algae and spirulina are green “superfoods” widely available in supplement form, and are useful additions for vegan/vegetarian babies, “atopic” babies, especially those not introduced to cereals of any kind until the ages of 1-2 years. .
(NB 10 g of dried spirulina provides almost 3 mg of iron).
For these babies, the best cereals to start introducing are millet and quinoa, highly nutritious, gluten-free and excellent sources of protein and iron. Both can be cooked and served as porridge, with interesting additions, such as banana or papaya.
How much food should I give?
The following is a guide to the first 3 months of weaning – eg from the age of 6-9 months.
Weeks 1 and 2 – Try 1-2 teaspoons at lunch, halfway through breast or bottle feeding.
Weeks 3 and 4 – As above + 1-2 teaspoons at breakfast halfway through bottle or breastfeeding. Increase the lunch meal to 3-4 teaspoons.
Weeks 5 and 6 – 1-2 spoons at breakfast. Introduce 2 courses at lunch with 5-6 spoons, and introduce a meal of 2-3 spoons.
Weeks 7 and 8 – As above + offer solids FIRST at lunch and then top up with milk.
Weeks 9 and 10 – As above + solids only for lunch + water from a beaker – offer solids FIRST at tea time.
Weeks 11 and 12 – Solids only for lunch and tea. Give a glass of water after lunch and tea.
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