Ask a Nutritionist : How do I Start Weaning my Baby?
What are the 5 things every parent should know before starting their baby on solids?
- Check that your baby is ready for solids. Signs include ability to sit up, Ability to let you know she is full from a “meal” with signs such as turning away from the bottle or breast, having doubled birth weight, making chewing motions and interest in food.
- Food should be adequate meaning that the complementary foods should be given in amounts, frequency, consistency and using a variety of foods to cover the nutritional needs of the growing child while maintaining breastfeeding.
- Be Responsive – feeding young infants requires active care and stimulation, where the caregiver is responsive to the child clues for hunger and also encourages the child to eat. This is also referred to as active or responsive feeding. Feeding time should be fun.
- Practice good hygiene and proper food handling.
- Increase fluid intake during illness, including more frequent breastfeeding, and encourage the child to eat soft, favorite foods. After illness, give food more often than usual and encourage the child to eat more.
What foods should I avoid when thinking of weaning? Are there high allergy foods as opposed to others?
You can delay introducing some foods to prevent allergic reactions.
- Shellfish and sea food
- Nuts and seeds.
- Soft and unpasteurised cheeses.
- Foods that contain wheat or gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley)
- Fresh cow milk
Nuts, seafood and honey are more likely to cause a severe allergic reaction and should be avoided in the early months of introducing solids.
What are some of the pre-existing weaning myths mothers/ parents should be aware of?
- Babies don’t eat fat and oils: Babies need fats in their diets to be healthy. Healthy fats supply nutrients that are essential for growth and are necessary for energy as well as the absorption and metabolism of some nutrients. Fats are vitally important to the brain, which is 70 percent fat.
- Babies should not eat meat: Meats like chicken, beef etc are an excellent source of protein and iron. Small children are at greater risk of becoming iron deficient than adults because they need extra iron for growth. Red meat (lamb, beef) and chicken are excellent sources of a type of iron which is easy for your baby to absorb.
- Your baby should eat a lot of food: Babies have very small tummies so they may not eat as much as you expect. At 6 months, your baby may be satisfied by 2-3 tablespoons. Let your baby guide you, once they show signs of satisfaction like turning away, closing mouth, stop feeding and avoid force feeding.