Wednesday, 11 November 2015

THE LOW DOWN ON WEANING


Weaning can be a scary and daunting process, especially if you're a first time mum, when I started weaning I had no clue what I was doing, I was booked in to attend a weaning class, however Oscar wasn't well and I missed it so I was left to figure it out for myself!  Of course there are hundreds of articles online, and I sought advice from recommended sources, but ultimately I did what I thought was best.

The recommended age for weaning is 6 months, however I began weaning Oscar at 16 weeks.  I am not saying that you should do that, just go with your baby and your gut, I believe that 'mum knows best' (most of the time).  By 16 weeks Oscar was able to keep his head up and sit comfortably in his bumbo, his hand eye co-ordination was developing well and he was picking things up and putting them to his mouth.  I decided to try Oscar with a little bit of baby rice, test the water.  The first time I put the spoon to his mouth he just about ate the spoon as well.  He was so good at moving the food around his mouth and swallowed it with no problem, my boy was ready.  From that day on I continued to wean him and within a few weeks he was eating something every day, we gradually built up the portion sizes until he was in a routine and eating three meals a day.  From one new mum to another, here's the low down on weaning, the do's & dont's (from my experience) and everything else in between!

When should you start weaning?
As I mentioned the recommended age is 6 months, experts claim that babies need nothing else but milk until that time, however, if you choose to wean your baby earlier then that is of course up to you. I would however ensure that your baby can sit up and hold their own head, be able to pick things up and move them towards their mouth and be able to swallow.  If your baby can't do these things then they definitely aren't ready.  With a first baby, you're eager to see their developments and move on to the next stage, but if I have any advice, don't rush it, they'll only be a baby for a few months!

What should you give them as a first taste?
Ok, so I started with a little baby rice - taste it, it's vile!  It's flavourless and on reflection adds no nutritional value whatsoever, so avoid it, go straight to the good stuff!  Any kind of fruit or veg that can be steamed and or boiled and mashed or pureed is good.  After a few days of baby rice, which by the way Oscar liked I moved onto fruits and veg - carrot, sweet potato, broccoli (he hated this), apple, pear and mashed banana.

How much should you give?
Initially your baby won't be looking for huge amounts, at this stage its only a taste, it's allowing them to get used to a different texture, to develop their chewing and swallowing skills and to wean them in slowly.  Based on that, I recommend filling some ice cube trays with different fruits and veg and then freezing them.  As the amount is so small they defrost pretty quickly, or if you don't want to wait for it to be defrosted you can cook them from frozen.  In the early days I'd give Oscar a taster at lunch time and around 4.30pm.  Please remember that milk is still so important and your baby should still be getting all of their milk feeds.

When should you introduce fish & meat?
Once your baby has grasped the whole chewing and swallowing and is enjoying eating (usually 2-3 weeks) you can move on to soft meats and fish, always ensure there are no bones in the fish.  Oscar loved fish, i'd cook it, mash it down and add in some mashed potato.  Add a little milk to the fish to make it less dry.  Chicken can be added to veg, just ensure that its also blended down. 

What about dairy products?
Yogurts and custard are great for introducing full fat dairy products into your babies diet, I added these into Oscar's diet around 4 weeks into weaning.

Full fat milk?
I kept Oscar on formula milk until he was around 11 months old, by 11 months oscar was fully weaned and had dropped his afternoon and through the night bottle.  I moved him onto the follow on milk at 6 months and then at a 11 months I changed one of his formula feeds to full fat.  It took a few months to get him onto full fat milk as he just wouldn't take it initially, however I persevered and now he loves cows milk

Drinking from a cup
This is another big part of weaning that I don't often see covered but it's so important.  Although your baby will still be on milk there is no harm in introducing them to water, I'd recommended not giving them juice as it generally contains sugar, but again thats up to you as a parent.  For me personally I have only ever given Oscar water and he loves it, he will opt for water over diluted juice.  You can pick up 1st stage sippy cups all over, I personally liked the Tommee Tippee cups, they are free flowing so they can get a little wet but they soon learn to control the flow themselves.

Progression
Once you have weaned your baby onto a variety of foods you can start to combine them to create mini meals, add in some finger foods such as toast, banana, garlic bread and other finger food as you see fit, allow them to touch, feel and make a right old mess, that is also amazing for their development.  Things will naturally begin to fall into place and before you know it your gorgeous little baby will be eating 3 meals a day and raiding the snack cupboard, secretly eating jelly babies and pointing at the fridge for yogurts!

Kirsty x

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