By Tommee Tippee
One of the biggest, and most exciting milestones in the first year of your baby’s life is when they’re ready to wean. It’s all about exploring, experiencing and eating new things. To help give us the low down on what to expect, leading baby brand Tommee Tippee have lots of tips for weaning your little one.
They’re sitting up and chewing everything. They’re watching every morsel that goes into your mouth and reaching out to try and grab it. In this guest post from Tommee Tippee, we look at the ins and outs of weaning.
Official guidance from Public Health England recommends that solid foods should not be introduced until your baby is around 6 months old, and that they should continue to be breastfed for at least the first year of life.
Until your baby is around 6 months old they should get all the nutrients and calories they need from milk, whether you choose to breast or bottle feed, or use a combination of both.
It’s easy to see outward signs of development such as smiling, rolling, grasping at objects and recognising objects, but remember that babies are still developing their little digestive systems too, so they need to be able to cope with new foods.
Here are some clues that your little one may be ready to start experimenting with solid food:
They can sit up well with minimal support and hold their head confidently
They no longer push solids out of their mouth with their tongue
They are developing the ability to pick things up between their thumb and forefinger
They are chewing and reaching out for food
If you have any questions about how your child is developing or are concerned about starting to introduce solid foods, then speak to your health visitor or GP.
In the early stages of weaning, milk should still be the main source of your baby’s nutrients. Most parents start by reducing milk and offering a small portion (about a teaspoon or so of food) at one meal and increase that gradually.
Allow your little one to play with the food wait for them to open their mouths rather than forcing food at them. They should feel in control and comfortable and if they show no interest at all that’s fine, just try again another time.
The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition introduced new guidelines on infant feeding in July 2018. Many of these guidelines remain in step with current practice. They say:
Cows' milk should not be given to babies until they are 12 months’ old
Avoid giving babies high sugar or high salt foods
You can offer foods containing peanuts and hens' eggs at six months, but seek advice if you have a strong family history of food allergies.
Until recently, most parents introduced solids to their children on a spoon, starting with pureed vegetables, fruit and rice cereal and then gradually moving onto mashed or chopped foods like mashed banana or a sweet potato before finally introducing finger foods such as toast, pasta, cooked vegetable sticks.
But in recent years baby led weaning or self-feeding has become more popular. This simply means letting your baby feed themselves. You just hand them the food in a suitably-sized piece and if they like it they eat it and if they don’t they won’t. Toast, cucumber, carrot sticks, broccoli, meat – whatever they are able to hold and sensibly chew (or gum!).
To save time having to prepare small portions of healthy food for your baby at every mealtime, you may want to prepare things in batches.
A mini food processor like the Tommee Tippee Steamer Blender is ideal for saving time making baby’s dinner. As well as blitzing up purees, you can steam vegetables to make them easier for little mouths to manage if you’re baby-led weaning. Just make sure they’re cool enough to be safe for your little one to handle and eat.
You can make up lots of meals ahead, introducing various flavours and textures and then store in pots in your fridge or freezer until needed.
Both traditional spoon feeding and baby-led weaning have their pros and cons, champions and objectors. As every baby and every family is different, what works well for one may not work so well for you. Don’t be afraid to give it a try and ultimately do what’s best for you and your baby.
However you choose to start introducing solid food to your baby, it’s going to get messy. They’ll likely end up with food in their hair, on their clothes, on the floor, on you and a thousand other places.
Keep plenty of bibs and wipes at hand, cover surfaces and be prepared. Relax - it’s all part of growing up and learning new skills.
If you are concerned about how your child is eating and developing or worried about weaning, then speak to your health visitor or GP.
Some great advice there, from the brand that understands weaning. Don't forget to check out Tommee Tipppee's website for lots of great tips and suggestions - and if you think your little one is ready to sink their teeth (or gums) into weaning, take a look at our range of Tommee Tippee feeding essentials.