Introducing your child to solids can be a stressful and exasperating time. Moving your little one-off milk or formula onto solid feeds can be a trying time for parents, as you find yourself worrying even more about what, when and how much food that your baby needs. Making the jump onto a solid diet is an important stage during any child’s development; however, it need not be as rushed or precise as many experts will have you believe. The needs and requirements of each and every child differ greatly; so, don’t worry if your little one seems less interested in solids. It’s important that this remains as worry-free an experience for both Mom or Dad and baby, so don’t force your child if they appear disinterested. It can take a child a month on average to complete weaning – so enjoy all the mess, giggles and spills along the way!
Keep these five tips to hand as you begin weaning your child.
When weaning your child, try to delay solids until around the six months mark. There generally aren’t any benefits in starting weaning earlier, and there is a greater risk of your child contracting gastroenteritis too. The older your child is, the easier the process for everyone. Your six-month old will be able to sit up and swallow their food much easily than they would have done a few months previous. During the first few weeks of weaning make sure that you complement any solids with milk feeds too. Companies such as Formuland offer a selection of milk formula products that will compliment any solid foods that you prepare. Remember that your little ones only require just under 200 calories in food – so try to keep portion sizes small. Milk remains one of the most nutrient rich foods that you can give your baby. You should be reducing the amount of milk that you feed your baby, but will still need to give them around 600ml a day between six to eight months.
Taste and texture
Your baby will naturally prefer sweet tastes over savory at first, however, don’t give up at the first hurdle. In fact, encouraging your little darlings to eat their greens during weaning will help shape healthy habits for the future, so make sure that you introduce vegetables as part of your weaning plan. Even if your child won’t eat single vegetables in the first instance, don’t give up too soon. All the perseverance and effort will soon pay off.
Preparing at home
It’s ok to give your child commercial foods occasionally, as it isn’t always convenient to prepare and transport your own feeds. However, keep in mind that store bought foods are higher in sugar and salt, and won’t have the same taste and texture as that of a home-prepared meal. Do be careful how much feed you give your baby too. Many jars will contain more than one serving for younger children. Not to mention, buying commercial foods will also be worse for your pocket. Buying store bought jars and feeds works out a lot more expensive over time. Preparing your child’s meals at home might appear time consuming in the first instance, but at least you can relax in the knowledge that your baby is eating a healthy, nutrient rich diet. Visit your local farmers market or superstore to pick up some fresh produce.
Food isn’t everything
When it comes to weaning, food isn’t everything. Even if your baby has enjoyed a recent feed, this won’t help them sleep, despite what your mother in law might think. When weaning your child, remember that the foods are often lower in calories and can end up displacing milk, meaning that your baby might be eating even fewer calories than before. Babies also wake up for a variety of reasons, just like adults, so hunger can’t always be blamed for a sleepless night. Your child might be cold, thirsty or just need some love and care. Yes, your baby might be slightly grumpier and more tearful during weaning so make sure that you continue to give them all the attention that they need and be patient.
If Mom and Dad are relaxed when weaning, then baby will be too. Remember that humans have survived for millions of years without using an instruction manual, so there’s no need to stress and worry when weaning your child. The time it takes to wean your baby will be dependent on how receptive your little one is to solid foods too, and it can be difficult to wean some children if you are not already bottle feeding. You can make weaning as stress-free and fun a time as possible by offering your child a whole variety of foods, tastes and textures in combination with lots of milk. Don’t worry about your baby going hungry either! They will be sure to let you know if they are in need of their next feed! If you remain relaxed during this process, then your child will pick up on it too. So, get creative with the blender and turn those good vibes into producing delicious home-cooked foods for your baby to try and enjoy.
Weaning can be a difficult time for both Mom and child to explore and undertake together, if you don’t approach it with a laid-back attitude. With a wealth of information available for parents it can be difficult to know just where to start, but worry not. Each child is different; so, make sure that you remain relaxed and open to trying new recipes when weaning your little darling. Try to limit store-bought foods for emergencies, or when you are out of the house, to avoid giving your baby too much sugar. It’s important to watch portion sizes too, as your little ones don’t need as much solid food as you might think. Finally, enjoy cooking up some tasty treats for your baby to try. Pick a mixture of bright fruits and vegetables that are full of texture and flavor so that you help your child to develop good eating habits for life.