Starting Solids – the transition from milk to first tastes/foods
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Milk – (either breast or formula) will make up the majority of little ones diet for the first year, but after six months it is important to encourage first tastes.
This may however be before 6 months depending on your baby, but never before 17 weeks as the gut will not be developed enough for anything other than milk. If you have concerns speak to your Health Visitor.
There are two main types of weaning – ‘Baby Led- and ‘Puree’ – my approach is a mixture of them both! Baby led usually begins around six months.
There is research to support the introduction of finger foods at six months that this actually reduces choking risk.
Babies ‘gag’ reflex is much closer to the throat than adults so its very common for them to gag and bring back food. The finger foods can help desensitise the gag reflex. Gagging is very different to choking. I recommend all new parents to do a paediatric first aid course for peace of mind.
Lots of praise, eating WITH your baby and teaching them how to swallow is very important – you are their best teacher
My top tips;
Make sure little one is ready – usually around 5-6 months but every baby is so different. They need to be showing good signs of head and neck control, able to sit and have good hand to mouth coordination. Just them watching you eat isn’t enough to say they are ready.
Baby rice isn’t used so much any more, it used to be the ‘first taste’ but now its better to get straight into vegetables like carrot or butternut squash. I only ever use baby rice to thicken a puree that is just too liquid. I used to always give apple or pear as first tastes but research now shows that veggies are the best.
The main point is that this is first TASTES – milk is still key and food tasting should be a fun experience for you and your little one!
Full fat (preferably organic) Cows milk can be added into food from six months but must not be given as a drink until one year.
Never add salt, sugar or honey
Keep offering a different variety of tastes, and don’t be scared to add seasonings such as herbs and spices – just don’t add salt.
Eat WITH your baby – show them that eating is a social, enjoyable part of life.
Never force your baby to have food that she or he doesn’t want – it is so much about trust at this stage. RESPONSIVE feeding is key and will set up the right attitudes to food.
Instagram is a great place for weaning – just type in something you are looking for under a hashtag and there will be recipes and ideas at your fingertips.
Pinterest is also great for ideas.
Books that I love
This little book is a must read for anyone thinking about starting solids;
Why Starting Solids Matters – Amy Brown
Annabel Karmel – Baby & Toddler meal planner – she also has a great app available
Young Gums – Beth Bentley
Finger foods for babies and toddlers – Jennie Maizels
There are also some great nutritionists on Instagram, sharing recipes and tips for weaning – I like to follow: sr_nutrition www.srnutrition.co.uk also Sarah Almond Bushell – thechildrensnutritionist
Equipment I like for weaning
A supportive chair suitable for the babies developmental stage – If starting earlier than six months you can use the baby bjorn chair, or one that you have. Just make sure it is not rocking!
The most popular affordable high chair on the market is the IKEA ANTILOP. You will see this in restaurants everywhere! I really like it, but it is missing a foot rest.
Why is a foot rest important on a high chair?
Try and imagine that you are choking on a piece of food, now lift your legs off the floor – it is so much harder to clear your airway when you are not able to push down on your feet. Remember this for your little one.
There is however a youtube hack where you can make one!
Over my years as a Nanny I loved the STOKKE highchair, I saw it grow with children and last for years. My niece still uses hers and she is eight! You can buy a newborn attachment for when starting weaning, or just the baby attachment for the seat and cushion support. It is an investment!
Stokke Wooden Highchair
Chicco Polly Magic Relax Highchair Graphite
Another chair that I have loved is the Chicco Polly High Chair – Its really supportive for little one in the early stages of weaning and I find that babies are happy to stay in this chair to enjoy their food and then play afterwards.
Protective floor mat
It can be a good idea to put a mat under the high chair to catch the dropped food.. initially it will seem like more food is going on to the floor than into little one’s tummy but its all about the experience and early tastes at the beginning.
This mat can also be really useful for messy play.
Highchair Splash Mat
Bibado – If you are doing Baby Led Weaning this is a must have! Covers everything.
This is another of my favourite brands. I have the soft silicone bibs for Nico and some of the gorgeous tablewear too.
A machine can be really useful for preparation – but not essential – I LOVE the Beaba Babycook machine and have used it all over the world, creating delicious meals in hotel rooms!
Beaba Babycook Machine
Another great machine that is really easy to use is this one by Tommee Tippee, it is really easy to set up.
Tommee Tippee Steamer Blender
A great smaller machine for travel, or for use in a second home could be
ITSY Blitz portable weaning blender
Baby food storage
I like to use glass products wherever possible, I like these storage pots by Beaba
Beaba Glass Storage Pots
Beaba 6 Compartment Multi-portions Silicone Food Storage
This is a great option for bulk cooking and freezing. The silicone makes it easy to get the individual portions out when frozen.
Bamboo bowl -I love www.bubbaboo.com organic bamboo bowls
I love the Cognikids dip spoon that can be used either way round for self exploration.
Other useful spoons for beginning weaning are these by Annabel Karmel
Make sure it is BPA free – lots of great ones available now. I like the Munchkin 360 cup and also the Cognikids open cup.
Munchkin 360 Cup
Cognikids Sip Natural Drinking Cup
Cheeky Wipes are great! They are a collection of flannels that can go into the wash, rather than using a lot of baby wipes.
Remember that early tastes are all about discovery of textures of food, so don’t worry if your baby makes a mess. This is actually an important part of weaning!
I have found if you wipe their hands too much too early, they then begin to really dislike the feeling of any food on their hands.
Also I love to actually wash little one’s hands under the tap from an early age, so they understand the importance of hand washing, before as well as after they eat.