Weaning is a milestone in the early development of your baby’s life. This is the time when you, as a parent, begin to introduce solid foods to your baby’s diet.
Initially, the solid food will complement the milk your baby is already feeding on – whether that’s via bottle feeding or breastfeeding – but then, gradually, the solids will make up the bulk of the diet.
For a baby, this is an exciting time as they’re introduced to new tastes, flavours and textures, but it’s also a challenging period, too. It’s a time of change and the weaning process requires patience and persistence!
Weaning is the process of transitioning from breastmilk or formula milk to a combination of milk and solid foods. When that process starts, your baby should be introduced to a variety of different foods so they can get the nutrients they need for their development.
If this is your first time weaning your baby, be prepared that he or she won’t like many types of food you offer – and you may see some funny facial expressions during mealtimes. Weaning is lots of fun, if a little chaotic and messy.
Every baby is different and develops at their own rate. As a guide, the NHS advises that the average baby is usually ready to start weaning at around six months old, though yours might be slightly younger or slightly older.
Weaning before four months is not recommended, because a baby’s digestive system isn’t mature enough to process solid foods.
Your baby may show you they’re ready to start weaning by displaying tell-tale signs of behaviour. If they can stay in a sitting position, with a steady head, and use hand-to-eye coordination to pick up food and move it towards their mouth, it’s a likely indication that you can begin to introduce solids.
Start with small portions of fruit and vegetables – mashed carrot, sweet potato, apple, banana and pear are all suitable options for the first foods to try. Give your baby time to adjust to what will be an amazing new range of flavours for them, after months of milk.
You can gradually introduce other foods, including finger food – thin batons of carrot or cucumber – in the coming weeks and months.
Although you can’t expect your baby to love every type of food that comes their way – and it’s said some little ones may need to try something up to ten times before learning to like it – it’s important to introduce a range of meals. This helps to promote a balanced diet.
It can help to have a meal planner, and prep breakfast, lunch and dinner in advance. For inspiration, here are five really simple meals that you can try with your baby when it’s time for weaning.
Packed with fruit, this recipe needs just the two main ingredients, with the chopped apple and blueberries cooked for ten minutes in a pan with 150ml of water. Serve when the fruit is soft, and has cooled down. The recipe makes five portions. If you like, you can add chopped banana too as an extra.
Recipe from NHS Start4Life
The combination of avocado and banana makes this a sweet and creamy treat. All you need for one serving is one avocado, sliced in half – make sure the stone has been removed – and one ripe banana. Then, simply mash the avo and the banana together, or use a blender for more of a smooth puree. You can make the mixture as smooth or as chunky as you choose, depending on what your baby is used to. The recipe we’ve featured makes six portions.
Recipe from Mummy Cooks
Everyone loves Mac and Cheese, right? It’s the ultimate comfort food, and this recipe delivers a little twist by bringing butternut squash into the game. The squash is cooked and then pulsed down in a blender before being combined with onion, garlic, and vegetable stock. Add a good serving of any pasta type you like, and serve. Because there’s no milk or cheese in this, it’s suitable for those on a Vegan diet. If you prefer, add some grated parmesan.
Recipe from BabyFoode.com
This is like a baby-friendly version of a Sunday roast. Although it’s a puree recipe, the inclusion of sweet potato, chicken breast, courgette and broccoli florets mean it features a more chunkier texture and different tastes. Add yoghurt and baby milk to loosen.
Recipe from BBC Good Food
This is a great dinner for the whole family, and suitable for those babies who have been weaning for a few months already, as well as older children. This recipe is packed with veg; simply slice into small pieces or even blend together to reduce further and ‘hide’ it in the sauce. To change it up, you can try different types of pasta – spaghetti, rigatoni, penne – every time you serve it. Just adjust portion sizes depending on how people are eating, or batch cook and freeze portions for another mealtime.
Recipe from Healthy Little Foodies
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