National Weaning Week

National Weaning Week – This post is inspired by my lovely friend who asked “what I would recommend as some good introductory foods”?  My friend has chosen the Baby-Led Weaning approach, so my advice is with this in mind, but first what is Baby-Led Weaning and how does it compare to traditional purees?

Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) is a method of feeding that involves the baby feeding him or herself.  This usually involves the baby being given pieces of food, intially the right size for them to grip in their hands, but may involve the baby using a spoon to feed themselves also (you may need to load it for them!).  In order for the baby to successfully do this they have to be showing all the signs that they are ready to be weaned.  

SIGNS YOUR BABY IS READY TO BE WEANED INCLUDE: Being able to sit up (mostly) unsupported. By this I mean they do not topple over after a few minutes. They may still need some support, especially if the high chair is a bit roomy. Hold their head upright. Able to coordinate hand to mouth. Are able to chew and swallow (has lost the tongue thrust reflex which makes them push food back out of their mouth).  Official advice is to start weaning at about 6 months.  If your baby is showing all the signs of being ready before 6 months make sure you wait to introduce wheat, nuts, peanut products, seeds, eggs, fish, shellfish, cows’ milk and soft or unpasteurised cheese until they are 6 months of age.  Anyone with a history of allergies in the family should seek further advice about introducing allergens.

SO NOW YOU KNOW THEY ARE READY, WHAT TO OFFER?  There is no evidence that BLW offers any advantages over purees.  What many parents end up doing is offering a mixture of purees or mashed food and finger food.  It is important to note here that if you have waited until 6 months it is likely that your baby will manage textured food from the start and therefore pureeing is not strictly necessary, but feel free to do it initially if you feel more comfortable doing so. 

Research shows that it is beneficial to introduce as many vegetables as possible first, as babies will often accept sweet tasting fruits, but need more exposure to vegetables before they accept them.  SUGGESTIONS OF FIRST VEGETABLE FINGER FOODS (often cooked in order to soften) include: sticks of carrot, broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, roasted sweet potato, roasted pepper, avocado, green beans, aubergine, courgette, butternut squash, parsnips and cold cucumber (good for teething too!).

FIRST FRUIT FINGERS FOODS: slices of melon (also good for teething!), peeled apple, pealed pear, banana, mango, and raspberries.

Once your baby is managing these you can introduce other foods, as long as they are 6 months: breadsticks, toast, pitta, hardboiled egg, fish, pasta, yoghurt, cereals and cheese.

Don’t forget you can introduce meat, lentils, and beans once your baby has mastered the first foods also.

Finger foods are great to offer as they give the baby control and also means that as long as you don’t add salt they can eat foods straight from your plate also, so they can eat with you right from the start.