1. Go at your baby’s own pace
Weaning is another area where comparisons can creep in. Your baby is different to your friend’s baby and his/her siblings (if you have other kids) so it is very likely they will have a different weaning experience. All the information you read or receive can be adapted to suit your baby. Don’t worry if you’re not following everything by the book.
2. Try bitter tastes before sweeter ones if possible
Recent research highlights the importance of starting with vegetables, ideally those that are the most bitter – think green varieties rather than orange ones – before trying sweeter vegetables and then on fruits. This is to encourage the acceptance of vegetables over sweeter choices, which is our natural preference. However, not all babies will enjoy guzzling the bitter-tasting veg so don't let this worry you if your baby isn't taking to it like your best friend's is. There are plenty of other ways to encourage babies and children to enjoy vegetables.
3. Introduce new foods one by one
This is particularly important with known allergens (e.g. fish, nuts, soya) as you will be able to monitor for any reactions. This will also help you to keep track of flavours your baby really enjoyed versus those they might need more encouragement to eat.
4. Include your baby in mealtimes & be a role model!
Parents/carers are your baby’s role model at mealtimes and this is also true as your baby becomes a toddler and then a child. Children are learning all the time, particularly around the dining table. Research highlights that children are more likely to accept vegetables if their parents/carers are also eating them. Make mealtimes a social occasion too so they understand there is more to food than just filling you up and providing energy.
5. Introduce finger foods from 7 months
Whichever method of weaning you are following – baby-led weaning or the more traditional purees from a spoon, finger foods are an essential part of the weaning journey. They help to improve your baby’s hand-eye coordination and encourage them to self-feed. Don’t be surprised if lots of food is knocked on the floor, as the ability to hold food via the pincer grip happens around the 8-month mark.
6. Learn what to do if your baby is choking
While babies and toddlers are learning how to eat solid food, choking incidents can happen. It is incredibly important that you know instinctively what to do if it happens to your baby or child. There are plenty of baby first aid courses around and refreshers are available via You Tube. If you have someone else looking after your baby make sure they are first aid trained too.
7. Keep calm and relaxed
Babies pick up on stressful situations so always try to keep calm and relaxed during mealtimes even if your baby is not enjoying what you have served that day. This can be frustrating but it is an entirely normal occurrence during mealtimes.
8. Have your phone ready for all those photos!
Make sure you capture some video or photos of your baby’s early weaning journey to remind you and them of what the experience was like! This doesn't mean playing with your phone during mealtimes or letting your baby play with it.
The first few months of weaning when your baby is needing solids and milk at different time points throughout the day can be quite time intensive. Always remember that what you eat is important too. Try and eat a variety of different foods and include a selection of vegetables and other plant-based options to keep your gut bugs happy. A healthy gut micro biome has been linked to overall good health.
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