I’ll be honest, the whole idea of weaning scared me a little bit and I couldn’t get my head around it. When should we start? What foods should I start with? How much food should I be feeding Max? Honestly, it’s a minefield. We’re now 4 weeks into our weaning journey so I thought I’d document all the things I’ve picked up, and continue to pick up along the way.

First up are some things to consider before you start weaning.

When to start?

Current NHS guidelines suggest you should wait until 6 months to begin weaning. However there are certain situations where you can start slightly earlier. Max suffered terrible reflux and was a very sicky baby so we were advised by our Health Visitor that we could start at 5 months. There are also signs to look out for to suggest your little one is ready, including;

  • they can hold their head steady when sitting in an upright position
  • they can sit well when supported
  • they can swallow food. Babies who aren’t ready will not swallow and just spit the food back out
  • they show good co-ordination skills by looking at food, picking it up and putting it to their mouth

There are also a few signs that can be mistaken for a baby being ready for their first foods and are instead just signs that your baby is growing. These include:

  • chewing/chomping on their fists
  • waking in the night when they previously slept through
  • wanting extra milk feeds

What foods should you give?

Ideally the first foods should be simple and easily digestible. It’s recommended that you begin with savoury food where possible as you don’t want to encourage a sweet tooth from the offset. We started Max off with a simple homemade carrot puree for a week before introducing some pureed apple. Other foods to consider starting with include:

  • pureed or mashed parsnip, potato or sweet potato
  • pureed or mashed banana, pears or mangoes
  • pieces of soft fruit/vegetables that are small enough for your baby to pick up

What foods should you avoid?

There are certain foods that babies under 12 months should avoid. These include:

  • salt and sugar
  • pate
  • shellfish
  • soft cheeses
  • honey

Eggs can be introduced from 6 months but you need to ensure they are thoroughly cooked.

Safety

At approx. 6 months old your baby should be able to support themselves enough to sit in a high chair, safely strapped in. Do not leave your baby alone with food as this could increase the risk of choking. To help reduce any risk of choking:

  • remove any stones/pips from food
  • cut fruit/vegetables into slices rather than chunks
  • avoid small fruits/vegetables that can easily get stuck in the windpipe, like cherry tomatoes and grapes

If you are concerned about your child choking then speak to your health visitor as they can recommend the relevant first aid course for you to attend.

Next week I’ll be talking about the different methods of weaning and their benefits so be sure to check back.