Research has proven how significant a child’s first few years are in terms of their health and well-being. Therefore making sure your child has the best possible start in life is super important and nutrition is a big factor in how they develop and mature.
Breast feeding for the first 6 months allows for the baby to gain the richest source of nutrients and has the perfect amount of antibodies to protect and aid immunity. Although of course this isn’t always a possible option for everybody and alternatively bottle feeding formula is most definitely a safe, healthy and nutritious way to feed your young baby. There is no right way or right amount to feed a baby as they are all different but small amounts at regular intervals is suggested for most, due to small tummies and simple digestive systems.
Introducing solid foods or weaning is often a scary time for mums but remember if you’re anxious then your baby will be too. The best time to start introducing small amounts of solid foods is at around 6 months of age. This is due to your baby being able to fully sit up, hold up their own heads and their digestive systems are mature enough to cope with the different foods and textures.
Alongside your normal bottle/breast feeding schedule start to introduce small amounts of new foods. Begin with soft/mashed up foods and remember to keep trying. Just because they don’t eat it the first time doesn’t mean they won’t the next time or even the next time. At around 9 months they may start to pick up small pieces of food and feed themselves. And by one year of age your baby should be able to eat whatever the rest of the family are eating, but of course cut up and in smaller amounts.
Baby-led weaning is a little bit different to the standard weaning and is exactly as the name suggests, letting your baby fed themselves as and when they need to or want to. Baby led weaning is cutting up foods into manageable sticks, so they can grip them easily and offering them small amounts at a time. This process is aimed at allowing the child to learn how to chew first and then swallow as baby led weaning is purely manageable and nutritious finger foods, no purees or spoons. Parents need to resist the urge to help, interfere or get wound up if they are not eating. At first they may just play with their food, just grabbing and smushing it in their fists, but remember they are exploring and will try it when they are ready.
If you’re confused as to whether you want to use purees or adopt the baby led weaning process then official advice from the Department of Health, European Union and the World Health Organisation is to give both well mashed foods as well as introduce finger foods to babies diet at around 6 months of age.
It is understandable to worry about choking or gagging but remember that babies who can sit up, hold their own heads and also control the movement of food from the front to the back of their mouths, then choking is highly unlikely, but of course always remain with your young baby when they are eating and keep the foods soft until they get older.
Its another milestone for your little one that seems like such a big step but remember in the first year of life solid foods are to be introduced and explored, so don’t worry too much about how much they eat to begin with. Its always best to start good habits early, such as always sitting down to eat, eating at the same times so you have consistency and eating together. Babies learn from watching others so if they regularly see you and the rest of the family eating, they will hopefully follow suit and do the same.