Everything you need to know about starting your little one’s weaning journey
What is weaning?
Weaning is the transition from milk to solid food. At around six months of age, your baby will start to need nutrients that aren’t available in adequate amounts in their milk alone. It’s important they’re introduced to solid food that starts to meet these additional nutritional needs while breast or bottle feeding continues up to two years of age or beyond.
Once your little one reaches this milestone, it’s natural to have lots of questions, so we've compiled a few tips to help you out.
Is my baby ready for weaning?
There are a number of things to consider as you approach the weaning or complementary feeding stage, for example:
- Can your little one sit up? (It’s ok if they need a little extra support from you)
- Can they grasp objects and bring them to their mouths?
- Are they interested in your food and perhaps try to grab from your plate?
- Can they hold their head steady and move around from side to side?
Where do I start with weaning?
If weaning with purees, start with thin purees and build up to ones with a thicker consistency and eventually minced or chopped foods. Then try larger pieces of food from protein and carbohydrate groups, like fish, chicken and potato.
Going down the puree route? Start with single flavours based on a range of vegetables. Try and focus on vegetables over fruit, as little ones have a preference for sweeter tastes so it’s good for them to become accustomed to savoury flavours early on.
Good first vegetables to include early on:
Once you’ve offered single flavours you can move onto blends, combining protein with vegetables, like salmon and sweet potato or chicken and broccoli.
Great first finger foods
Try soft vegetable batons, and as your little ones eating skills improve, these can be introduced as raw batons alongside other easy to handle foods, such as pasta spirals or cooked and cooled broccoli florets.
Ideal for practicing pincer grip
Grated foods such as carrot or cheese are great, and this usually happens between 9 and 12 months.
What is the importance of solid food?
Over time your little one will progress from purees to first finger foods to moving food and soft lumps around their mouth as well as using their lips to clear food from a spoon. Soon enough they’ll be accepting a wide range of food, as eaten by the entire family.
The Importance of chewing
Chewing improves the strength and coordination of the jaw area, which is essential for speech development. The more texture and shapes they are given in food at a younger age, the more receptive they will be to a wide range of food later in life. If you keep your little one on the puree stage for too long, it may be more difficult for them to accept lumps and finger foods.
Great Finger Foods
- Cubes of hard cheese
- Flaked fish
- Hard boiled egg wedges
- Soft cooked pasta
- Soft cooked vegetables
Try to relax
Don’t delay introducing these types of foods for fear of choking, as your little one may become hesitant to trying new textures as time goes on.
Foods that should be avoided in the first year:
Honey – as it may lead to infant botulism. This is because honey contains bacteria which can cause this illness in little ones under 12 months.
Fruit juice – due to its high sugar content which can lead to tooth decay.
Processed meat – where possible, due to its high salt content.
Whole nuts – due to the possible choking risk.
If you have any concerns regarding your little one’s diet, we recommend you consult your doctor or healthcare professional.