How & When to Start Weaning?
As a first time mum it was the first question I asked myself. I had no idea what to do and how to do it, what made it worse was the lack of support I got from the health visitor or GP due to the coronavirus pandemic, so I had to rely on Facebook, online forums, and google to find all the information I needed.
I hope all I have learnt during our weaning journey can help other new mums out there.
When to Start
- Around 6 months is the right time to start, but it’s very important that baby should be able to sit in position and be able to keep his head up without support. He shouldn’t lean and should be able to sit up independently. It’s not a problem to delay the weaning process if baby isn’t ready.
- Coordinate their eyes, hands, and mouth so they can look at their food, pick it up, and put it in their mouth.
- swallow food (rather than spit it back out).
These are not signs of readiness
- Chewing fists.
- Wanting extra milk feeds.
- Waking up in the night (more than usual).
These are just normal baby behaviour signs, maybe caused by teething, growth spurt, or simply just for comfort.
Make sure when you start to wean your baby she is not too tired, but a moment she is relaxed and happy. Offer solid foods before baby’s usual milk, formula or breast, this way she will be more hungry and more keen to try the new food. Do not worry if for the first year baby doesn’t eat much because he will still be having his usual milk feeds so he will not be missing out on any important nutrition. The first 6 months are all about trying new textures and tastes, so if you see him just touching are playing with his foods its all in the norm, he will eventually try it . Some babies start to eat immediately some don’t try till they are 8 months old or older, don’t feel bad or guilty it’s a normal process.
Should I Choose Traditional Weaning or Baby Led Weaning?
There is no right or wrong, do what suits you and your family. You can also start weaning by doing both, puree foods and some finger foods. Weaning can be a very stressful time for mums so just do what you feel like doing. Do not look at what other mums do, because you know what is best. There were times I would see on social media these perfect baby led weaning dishes and it made me feel like I wasn’t giving my baby enough, not the right things, or not spending enough time searching for the perfect recipe. However, then I saw my baby was happy while eating and I felt confident with what I was doing which made me feel better, and I stopped comparing myself to others.If you start with puree, try and introduce lumpier foods in the first couple of weeks and then try and move towards some finger foods. This way baby can start getting used to the textures of the food, but always do what you feel confident doing. It will make the process so much easier for you and baby, and don’t be afraid to ask your health visitor if you need any advice.
What Foods Should I Give First & How?
You can try with some vegetables cut into strips first. I started with carrots and broccoli that were steamed very softly because I was terrified of her choking (we will talk about this after). and she loved it! in fact, broccoli is still her favourite vegetable at 13 months!
When you feel confident enough move on to other vegetables and fruits. It’s your choice if you want to start with breakfast, lunch or dinner. Some say its best not to start with dinner because starting with breakfast or lunch means you will have the time to see if baby has any allergic reaction to any new foods they ave been given. My little girl was on 3 meals a day by 9 months, but if you want you can give baby some food every time you eat. It’s a personal choice.
Important to remember to avoid choking. Baby’s food should always be cut in strips, this way it’s also easy for him to pick up and bring it toward his mouth.
What Foods Not to Give Your Baby
- No honey till baby is one. Honey can cause infant botulism. Remember to also read the ingredients in any foods which might contain honey, such as yogurt.
- No more than 1gram of salt till baby is 12 months. Too much salt can cause kidney damage in babies, so try to stay under the recommended grams per day. When baby turns one 1 he can have a max of 2 gr of salt a day. Never add salt to baby’s food and try to read on packages or cans how much salt it contains.
- Nuts can be a choking hazard. Try and stay away from nuts, or alternatively, you can crush them and add them to food such as yogurts.
- Some cheeses are not good. Babies and young children shouldn’t eat mold-ripened soft cheeses, such as brie or camembert, or ripened goats’ milk cheese and soft blue-veined cheese, such as roquefort. In all the above mentioned, there ia a higher risk that these cheeses might carry a bacteria called listeria. Many kinds of cheese are made from unpasteurised milk. It is better to avoid these because of the risk of listeria.
- Raw and lightly cooked eggs. Babies can have eggs from around 6 months. If the eggs are hens’ eggs and they have a red lion stamped on them, or you see a red lion with the words “British Lion Quality” on the box, it’s fine for your baby to have them raw (for example, in homemade mayonnaise), or lightly cooked. Hens’ eggs that don’t have the red lion mark should be cooked until both the white and yolk are solid. So should duck, goose or quail eggs.
Avoid raw eggs, including uncooked cake mixture, homemade ice creams, homemade mayonnaise, or desserts that contain uncooked egg that you can’t confirm are red lion stamped.
- Raw Jelly Cubes. Raw jelly cubes can be a choking hazard for babies and young children.
If you’re making jelly from raw jelly cubes, make sure you always follow the manufacturers’ instructions.
- Raw Shellfish. Raw or lightly cooked shellfish, such as mussels, clams, and oysters, can increase the risk of food poisoning so its best to avoid feeding these to babies.
- Shark, swordfish, and marlin. Don’t give your baby shark, swordfish, or marlin. The amount of mercury in these fish can affect the development of a baby’s nervous system.
Whats The Difference Between Gagging & Choking?
Every parents worse nightmare when starting baby led weaning is that their baby will choke. The first month of weaning I was absolutely terrified of my baby girl choking, I was like a hawk while eating, sometimes I wouldn’t even finish my dinner cause I was just too nervous. I even got to the point that I would have stomach aches from fear! luckily the fear went away and I am very happy I continued the baby led weaning route. Now she eats absolutely anything, and I eat my dinner without being worried even if I’m always checking her ( never leave baby unattended while eating).
I have seen my girl swallow whole fusilli pasta without chewing on it. Yes, I do not know how that is possible but she did it all the time, but this is when my fear of choking started to fade because when she would swallow the pasta sometimes it automatically came right back up. This is her body reacting to avoid the food going down the wrong way and choking. its her natural gagging reflex. When you baby is gagging IT DOESN’T MEAN SHE’S CHOKING! It is very different. See the table below for the difference between gagging and choking.
I recommend all parents and grandparents to do a first aid course because in the event that baby is choking you would know exactly what to do to help your baby. The first reaction you will have when you see your baby gagging is to intervene, but you should not do this. Instead, let baby work it out for themselves. If baby starts to turn blue and is being silent then baby needs your help.
Gagging vs Choking
What Do I Need to Start our Weaning Journey
- A highchair that is very easy to clean. Ikea sell some great ones which are good for messy eaters.
- Bibado bib. I couldn’t live without it, saves me so much time. I just take it off after her meal and pop it in the washing machine for 15 minutes and hang it. Her clothes are totally clean and I just have to clean her hands and mouth.
- Silicone bibs. Another great choice are silicone bibs. Because of the front pocket it catches all the crumbs that baby drops and you can just pop it in the top rack of your dish washer or hand wash it.
- Suction plates. Best invention ever! You can choose bamboo ones for example from Bamboo Bamboo or our Elodie dinner sets, but there are also many other silicone suction bowels or plates you can choose from. Most companies sell the complete dinner set. Its never too early to introduce cutlery.
- What Mummy Makes recepie book. Some days you just don’t know what to cook! Here is where What Mummy Makes comes in. So many baby led weaning recipes to choose from all suitable from 6 months. She also has a meal planner which I love because it helps me organize my whole week from breakfast to dinner! A real life saver !
- Baby led Weaning cookbook is also another good recipe book starting from 6 months