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Top Tips for Weaning Your Baby
Weaning can be one of the most exciting times for a mother and of course for the baby too! New tastes, new sensations and new expressions… you will begin to appreciate the saying: “Variety is the spice of life!”
However, it can be a little stressful, and there’s no doubt that if you want your baby to have the best possible and most nutritious start to life, you need to get organised. SO…
My best tips
1 – Think a day ahead!
2 – Keep a diary: this is vital to monitor food reactions, the baby’s mood, which can be related to changes in blood sugar levels, and of course it will be something to refer to in later years or when number 2 arrives!
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 introducing any new food to your baby, leave it for 3 days before starting any new food. Signs of an allergic reaction include sneezing, runny nose, diarrhea, vomiting, rashes, or ear infection.
5 – Rotate foods from one day to another as much as possible.
6 – Be patient: meal times should not be rushed. Your baby will decide when he is full.
7 – Persist with a food, if at first your baby doesn’t seem to like it. Try again the next day, or in a few days or weeks.
8 – Try not to worry too much during the weaning process!
9 – When you are “out” the best foods to take with you are bananas and ripe avocados. Both can easily be combined and will be tasty, nutritious and satisfying for your baby!
10 – If your baby gets a little constipated when you introduce solids for the first time… don’t panic. It may take a while for the intestines to “wake up” to solid food. Try giving kiwi!
By the time a baby reaches 6 months (usually having doubled its birth weight), energy (caloric) needs as well as nutrient needs such as protein, iron (see below), selenium, zinc, vitamin A and D, and essential fatty acids, exceeds what can be supplied by breast milk. Ideally, breast milk or quality follow-up milk should last until at least one year of age. Do NOT give a baby cow’s milk until it is AT LEAST one year old. Some believe it should be closer to 2 years; I would definitely say 2 if there is a history of allergy in the family.
Stock up on food for the next 4 months “slightly” in the following order…
Vegetables and fruits: see note below, but in general enjoy introducing a variety! Fruits are easy to introduce as 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 fruits with large pips like raspberries – kiwis should be fine. Frozen fruits and vegetables like peas are good for your baby and can be very useful to use!
Legumes and beans, well cooked and well mixed, try chickpeas, white beans and puy lentils. These grind well and combine with savory or sweet ingredients and add mass to satisfy.
Cooked brown rice, quinoa, millet, and tapioca: Homemade porridges or purees using these grains are superior to store-bought baby rice. If you need to use baby rice, make sure you buy organic and one that has no fillers, eg Organix.
Lamb, poultry, and fish (especially fatty fish like wild trout and bass that have the lowest levels of PCBs and mercury): Introduce them in small amounts at first, focusing on organic meats if possible. After introducing meat like lamb or chicken, your baby’s mood and energy levels may increase!
At 6-9 months, iron needs are thought to be 7-8 mg/day.
To get an idea of how to get there, mix and match the following foods that are good sources of iron…
- 4 dried apricots (best soaked and pureed) – 5 mg
- 100g cooked red lentils – 2.4mg (pair with something sweet for an interesting dish)
- 100 g of cooked peas – 2 mg
- * 100 g cooked spinach – 1.6 mg (do not give up to 1 year)
- 100 g of cooked chickpeas – 1.5 mg
- 1 tablespoon of black molasses – 1.5 mg
- 4 plums – 1 mg
- 100 g of cooked sweet potato – 1 mg
- 150 g cooked butternut squash – 1 mg
- ½ avocado – 0.4 mg
- 100 g of cooked cabbage – 0.4 mg
- 1 tablespoon of raisins – 0.4 mg
- 100 g of cooked carrot – 0.4
Focus on both vegetables and fruits for the first few weeks if you can. Try “sweeter” vegetables like carrots, parsnips, peas and sweet potatoes, squash, asparagus, cauliflower and broccoli
Buy seasonally and locally whenever you can. Don’t avoid introducing a food you didn’t like or didn’t like as a child! Remember, with a baby: you are starting with a clean palate and NO understanding or experience of likes and dislikes. So go ahead with the brussels sprouts, broccoli, squash, leeks, swede or mushrooms – you might be surprised! ALL of these veggies are fantastically healthy on their own!
In general, it is advised to avoid the “deadly nightshade family” of vegetables, as 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 them as single foods, try these “mash” or “mash” combinations…
- Ripe avocado and banana
- Ripe avocado and mango
- Sweet potato and peas
- Quinoa porridge and pota pota
- Quinoa and kiwi
- Beetroot and peas
- Broccoli and peas
- Orchard fruit puree: apple, ripe pear and peach
- Apple, parsnip and pumpkin
- Apricot and swede, don’t be afraid to combine fruit and vegetables, be imaginative!
- Combos of meat, fish and beans…
- Chicken, rice or sweet potato and broccoli
- Lamb, peas, sweet potato
- Tuna Salad: Purée and mix of yellowfin tuna, avocado, plain yogurt, chopped chives and lemon juice!
- Bean and root puree: swede, celeriac, sweet potato and organic beans (sweetened with apple juice)
Other foods that will make up your baby’s “diet”…
Suitable fortified foods: for example, dida goat’s milk, organic baby rice, cooked brown rice, tapioca, millet and quinoa porridge. These cereals have a very low allergenic potential, as well as being excellent sources of protein and carbohydrates – see above.
* Spinach is a good source of iron (as well as calcium and vitamin A), but it is best to leave it 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, “atopic” babies, especially those who are not introduced to grains of any kind until at 1-2 years. .
(NB 10g of dry spirulina provides almost 3mg of iron).
For these babies, the best grains to start introducing are millet and quinoa, which are 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 for the first 3 months of weaning, eg 6-9 months of age.
Weeks 1 and 2: Try 1-2 teaspoons during a lunchtime feed, mid-breast or bottle.
Weeks 3 and 4 – As above + 1-2 teaspoons at breakfast half a bottle or breastfeeding. Increase feeding at lunch time to 3-4 teaspoons.
Weeks 5 and 6 – 1-2 teaspoons at breakfast. Introduce 2 lunchtime meals with 5-6 teaspoons and introduce a tea time meal of 2-3 teaspoons.
Weeks 7 & 8 – As above + offer solids FIRST at lunchtime then add milk.
Weeks 9 & 10 – As above + solids only at 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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