Weaning for beginners... Baby Led Weaning & Spoon Feeding
Introducing solids to your baby's diet is an exciting (and messy) milestone to encourage your child's development. Ultimately the aim is to give your baby the nutrients they need to thrive by sharing healthy family food.
When to wean? Signs your baby may be ready to try foods...
If you're thinking of weaning your baby there are some signs to look out for that will help you decide if the time is right. Your baby may be ready if she:
- Can hold her head up. Your baby needs to be able to maintain a steady, upright position, to take her first foods.
- Sits well when supported. You may have to have your baby on your lap at first. A can be pulled
- Makes chewing motions. Your baby should be able to move food to the back of her mouth and swallow. As your baby learns to swallow efficiently you may notice that she dribbles less. She may even have a or two.
- Has gained a healthy weight. Most babies are ready to eat semi-solids when they've doubled their birth weight. This may happen before or around their sixth month.
- Is curious about what you're eating. Is she eyeing your meals and reaching out to try foods you're moving from your plate to your mouth?
- Has good coordination. She should be able to look at food, grab it and put it in her mouth, all by herself.
At six months, baby's are ready to try a variety of new foods. Milk will still provide most of the nutrients needed, at this stage, but as your baby grows and becomes more active, a variety of solid foods will be an important part of your baby's balanced diet. This is a guide from insolvery.com on what age to Introduce each type of food
There are two main approaches to introducing solids - BABY LED WEANING and SPOON-FED WEANING. Both weaning methods can be used solely or combined to suit baby’s needs.
This traditional approach to introducing food starts with spoon feeding your baby smooth purees and gradually adding thicker, lumpier textured food, then finger foods and eventually family meals. Baby will let you know when he / she is ready. Some babies are ready to be introduced to purees around 4-5 months old.
A plain puree of a single fruit or root vegetable mixed with your baby's usual milk may help first foods go down easily. Over the next few weeks, your baby will become familiar with tastes and textures and learn the whole concept of swallowing.
Preparing batches of purees and freezing them helps make sure that you always have baby food ready when needed. If you are giving your little one food that you’ve cooked for the rest of your family, make sure you remove your baby's portion before adding any seasoning.
Batch freezing food
You can batch freeze baby's food in ice cube trays, later defrosting when needed. It will save you time and waste. In the early stages baby may only try a few spoonfuls. She will no doubt pull some silly faces as she's trying new tastes, but will soon be gulping it all down.
Once your little one is well into their weaning journey, you can enjoy tucking into family meals together.
Butternut Squash & Pear Puree is easy to digest & is a good source of betacarotene & vitamins C & E for your baby. Cook it in a steamer to preserve its rich nutrients.
Medium butternut squash (about 450g)
A ripe, juicy pear
- Peel the butternut squash, cut in half, remove the seeds and chop into pieces.
- Steam for about 12 minutes.
- Peel, core and chop the pear; add to the steamer and continue to cook for 5 minutes or until the squash is tender.
- Puree in a blender.
Weaning Tip: Eating the Rainbow - Colourful foods are packed with plenty of nutrients
Baby-Led Weaning (BLW)
This relaxed method begins with simply offering your baby solid foods to feed themselves - no blending required. Introduce babies to finger food at family meals times from around six months.
Offer baby manageable pieces that are easy to pick up - steamed carrots, cut up cucumbers, toast fingers, pasta tubes, mango slices, sweet potato.
It’s up to baby how much they eat - they should continue to have milk feeds when needed and your baby will decide when they are ready to reduce their milk intake. At this stage, baby’s nourishment will be satisfied by their milk feeds but offering them nutritious food will give them a taste of what to expect at meal times as they grow older.
The first few months of BLW are about exploring taste, texture, colour and smell of foods. Babies will practice handling food and develop the necessary skills to feed themselves.
Mealtimes are playtimes
Eating together is going to get messy as your little one plays with their food and decides what they want to eat (and what will get dropped on the floor) but baby’s curiosity will have them investigating the foods that you offer them and developing their coordination.
Suction bowls are definitely an essential. These bamboo suction bowls are the only ones I will use for my twins - they actually stick to the table! They come in a range of animal shapes - you can make meal times fun by creating cute faces.
Baby Led Weaning Recipe - Eggy Bread
Serves 1 adult and 1 baby
A little milk (optional - it makes eggs go further)
4 slices of bread
Oil or butter (preferably unsalted) for frying
- In a bowl, beat the eggs and add the milk, if using. Dip the bread into the egg mix, turning as necessary to coat both sides.
- Heat the oil or butter in a frying pan and fry the eggy bread on both sides over a medium to high heat until the egg is thoroughly cooked and the whole thing is golden brown.
- Cut into pieces (finger shapes are usually easiest for young babies) and serve immediately, or once cool enough for your baby to handle.
Find more easy recipe Ideas in this great weaning book - The Baby-Led Weaning Cookbook
Try to go at your little one's pace and don't worry if some days they eat more than others, it's all part of the weaning journey.
Worried about allergies? Try the 3-day wait rule
If you are concerned about allergies, you can try to feed your baby the same food for 3 days before trying new foods, making it easier for you to monitor any possible reactions.
Whether you decide to spoon-feed, go with baby-led or a combination of the two weaning methods, do what works best for parent and baby.
If you decide to go with the puree weaning method, there is a good range of equipment on the market that can help to prepare your baby's food.
Weaning Books we recommend:
Wean your baby confidently and safely, with guidance from bestselling baby and child nutrition author, Annabel Karmel. Over 60 enticing and versatile weaning recipes take you from 6 months to 12 months and beyond, along with 4 nutritionally balanced menu planners. Every recipe in the book can be adapted to cater for common allergies and intolerances, and many recipes suggest simple ingredient swaps to challenge and excite your baby's maturing palate.
In Baby-led Weaning, leading health visitor Gill Rapley and journalist and mum Tracey Murkett introduced parents to a common sense, easy and enjoyable approach to feeding your child, allowing your baby to join in with family meals right from the start of the weaning process.