Written by: Steven Petter
Weaning Do’s and Don’ts
If you have a baby that is of the age where you want to start weaning then you’re in for an exciting time, and a messy time, but watching your baby explore the vast world of flavours and textures is fun and exciting. Depending on who you talk to and what you read will give you conflicting ideas on what you should and shouldn’t do when weaning a child so here are some simple do’s and don’ts when it comes to weaning based on my own experience and some health professional advice.
Make sure you are prepared, you’ll need to make sure baby is relaxed and contented hopefully without any distractions, get them comfortable and get them wearing a bib. I always gave my kids a spoon to hold to get them used to what it is, they didn’t take to it any quicker but it did stop them grabbing the bowl out my hand. Make sure you have an ample supply of wipes and muslins available to clean your baby afterwards and most importantly don’t be proud, your kid is going to get messy, just deal with it!
Start with a small plastic spoon and a yoghurt or Fromage Frais as this is a good consistency to start with easy for them to work round their mouths beginning the action that will later become chewing. Some people say feed them after their milk, however I found that if they had their milk first they weren’t hungry and were less inclined to try the new food, having said that always make sure there’s a bottle ready for afterwards to fill them up.
Don’t rush it, be patient, you may find it takes them a while to get it, but by persevering and making silly faces you’ll find they open up, a smile is usually enough room for a spoon. Do make it fun, if they start to get upset then chances they will associate the spoon with negative feelings and be reluctant to take it in future, keep them laughing while you are feeding them.
Keep it small and build up, you may only get a few spoonfuls in first time but next time they will take more, and as they start discovering new flavours they will be more excited about trying new things. Once they have the eating motion sorted then you can move on to baby dinners, make sure you check the temperature and always follow the guidelines on the packaging.
You’ll find that given the right encouragement you’re child will pick it up very quickly, weaning goes wrong when parents get stressed and give up, keep it up and all that hard work will pay off.
Once you start giving them solid food to chew, let them handle it themselves with their own hands and practice getting it to their mouths. Toast is a great first solid finger food and if they are teething then a piece of carrot can be nice for them to rub their gums on too. Do enjoy it, eat with them if you can and help them to enjoy exploring what food is and how it tastes, don’t try and get it over with as quickly as possible.
Most of the don’ts are fairly obvious but just in case we’ll cover the basics. Firstly don’t give your small baby a full roast dinner expecting them to gum it to death, don’t be disappointed if your baby struggles at first because they will.
Don’t give them Shellfish because it’s more likely to have salmonella if not prepared properly, avoid nuts if you have a family history of allergies of any kind and don’t give them Honey until they are a year old. Be aware of your family history, if your father is allergic to cheese then it’s safe to assume your child might be, just play it safe.
Don’t ever give them fat free products as they need all they can get to ensure their little bodies are growing. Lastly, don’t ever leave them alone when they are eating solid foods, it’s nice when they start to feed themselves but keep an eye out because a lot of choking cases can make no noise at all so you won’t hear them if they are in distress.