You are at that point in the baby’s development where you will have to introduce them to solid foods. The beginning is always the toughest step to make. Here are 10 tips to help you navigate your way to a successful weaning.
When to start weaning.
One thing to note is that there is no fixed timetable that determines when your baby will be ready to start weaning. All babies develop at different rates, and treat your child as an individual.
Typically, a number of babies will begin the process at six months of age. At this stage, most infants are able to be in a sitting position while also being able to hold their head steady. They will also exhibit coordinated hand and eye movement. This means they will be able to look at the food in front of them, be able to pick it up and guide it into their mouths.
One thing you need to note is that your baby should be able to swallow without attempting, or succeeding with spitting out the food you give them.
Starting the weaning process.
Once you have your choice of meal, prepare it. Then begins the actual process of giving that meal to your baby. This can be a pivotal moment, so take your time to ensure you get it right. Just to be safe, have their usual milk feed on standby just in case things don’t go as you hope.
You want your baby to be relaxed when you begin feeding them. You know your baby better and thus you can choose to start with the weaning meal first then follow it with the milk meal, or vice versa.
Best foods for weaning.
The entire essence of weaning is to introduce your baby to solid food, but that is easier said than done. For one, you are going to have to slowly increase the density of the food that you will give to your baby. A great place to start is baby rice with baby formula, or even breast milk. They are already accustomed to the taste of the milk.
Next up is an introduction to pureed fruits and vegetables. You can start with avocados, pumpkin/butternut/squash, spinach and bananas. Salmon and tuna are soft enough for your baby to feed on.
Go easy on the textures and tastes.
The key to weaning is gradual introductions. Foods that have strong flavours will definitely be a turn off. What this means is you should avoid foods that have a moderate to high salt or sugar content. It goes without saying caffeine and animal milks should not be anywhere near your baby.
While nuts, honey and berries seem like they could be a treat for your baby, it is best to avoid these foods. The honorary mention perhaps has to go to citrus fruits and the fact that they should be nowhere near your baby.
Messes are normal.
You are introducing a child to new tastes and textures. There is bound to be some form of backlash. They may spit out the food the first few times you try to feed them, then go ahead to happily swallow every spoonful afterwards. In some cases, they may completely reject the food and make a mess of what is front of them.
The process of weaning is an exploratory process; trying out different combinations to find those that work best for the things you want to do, and those that are rejected outright. In this process, expect tantrums, expect messy tables and clothes. This is especially serious if you have chosen to go with baby led weaning.
Baby Led weaning can work.
Touch and feel are an important part of the child’s development. Your baby will definitely be interested in what’s in front of them. Touching it, and putting it in their mouth is a great way to explore. You can use this curiosity for their benefit even further.
Placing a spoon in their hand and allowing them to self-feed can work greatly towards improving their oral motor development, and their basic coordination skills.
Make it easy to enjoy.
The weaning process takes a lot of experimenting to find the tastes that make your baby coo, and those that cause them to scrounge up their face. Don’t make things difficult on yourself by introducing a lot of things at one.
What you can do is start with one or two different foods every couple of days. Make a list of do’s and don’ts and keep going until you are satisfied with the list you have built. If they don’t like particular foods, try a taste test a week apart. If the results are similar, then that food definitely goes on the don’t side of the list.
Give yourself time and space.
Parenting can be a difficult and time-consuming job. Keeping up with all the chopping, blending, mashing and food getting rejected can be exhausting. It may feel like your baby is intentionally taking you for granted, but be assured, they aren’t.
It is easy to feel frustrated with what seems like wasted effort. Rather than let it fester and end up blowing up at your child or your partner, it’s best that you take periodic breaks to help recollect your thoughts. Not only will this help ground you, but will actually give you the stamina to endure this seemingly frustrating period.
The colour and texture of the poo will change.
So far, you are used to diapers that have a runny goo in them. Well, things are about to change. Depending on what you will have fed your child, the dominant food in that meal will tinge the colour of the poo. If carrots, expect to see orange stuff in the diaper. Oh, the smell will definitely change as well.
As the feeding goes on, the poo will start to become firmer and darker. Definitely the diaper will become a stink bomb in waiting. If the poo is quite firm, or even solid, this could be an indicator that your baby is constipated. A simple remedy is to ensure that you baby enjoys a lot of milk, or water.
Nostalgia is a hell of a drug, and very legal! It is highly suggested that you start brewing some by making great memories of this time. Start with photos, or even pick up journaling. The reminders will be wonderful in the years to come.