Weaning A Baby Onto Solid Food
The best time to wean your baby onto solid food is at about age 6 months. This is because your baby's mouth will start to change around that time to help her cope with the transition. Another guide is to start when baby doubles in weight.
Before then your baby's digestive system and kidneys are able to cope only with breastmilk and formula. But don't leave it too late as baby may find it difficult to adapt to swallowing food, and she will need a balanced varied diet.
What You Will Need
- Bibs - and plenty of them! At first she will spit out more than she swallows and feeding will be very messy.
- Unbreakable bowls and spoons.
- Lidded containers for storing the food.
- A food processor. You could manage with a fork and a sieve, but the one thing you won't have plenty of is time, so a blender will make life easier.
You don't need a high chair, not at this stage anyway. Baby won't be able to hold her head up until about age 12 months, so feed her while she is in your lap or in a seat that supports her head.
Foods To Try And Some To Avoid
- Baby rice is usually the first solid for babies, it has a low protein content and is unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. Mix with milk (expressed breast milk or formula) to make the rice easier to swallow. Rice also has the advantage that it can be mixed with both vegetables and fruit, so after a few days, mix in a little purйed potato, vegetable or fruit. You may wish to start with vegetables to ensure she establishes a taste for savoury foods as well as the sweeter fruits.
- Foods to try include: potato, carrot, swede, parsnip, sweet potato; and apple, banana and pear. Cook where appropriate and purйe. If the result is too dry or lumpy, add milk (breast milk or formula).
- Avoid cow's milk until she is about 12 months old. Other dairy products like cheese and yoghurt can be introduced after a month or so.
- Avoid soft-boiled eggs; nuts; blue-veined cheese; salt; sugar or sweeteners, including those found in fruit drinks and squashes; bread and pasta; and rusks.
The move from milk to solid food can take place only gradually. At first, solids should take the place of one of the milk feeds. Then, over the next 3 or 4 months, introduce more solid food and cut down on the milk; and chop and cut food rather than purйe after a few weeks.
If you are vegetarian and want your baby to avoid meat and fish, this should not be a problem. The same nutrients present in meat are also available in other foods and you will be familiar with what is required for a balanced diet. However, if you are a vegan, your baby could miss out on certain vitamins as well as sufficient protein. Prolong breastfeeding as long as possible, and take expert advice on any necessary supplements.
Baby's In Charge
Of course no two babies are the same and there are no rules laid down regarding exact timing. Appetites vary too and your baby will tell you by her actions whether she needs to be 'topped-up' with a bottle of milk.