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Preparing for weaning your baby

Mom spoon feeding her baby

Weaning can be an exciting time but there are a few things to consider before starting to cook up a storm for your baby.

The UK Department of Health advises that breastfeeding or formula feeding meets your baby’s total nutritional requirements for their first six months. Young babies’ digestive systems are still developing at this point and starting them on solid foods before six months can lead to food allergies.

Some babies may be ready for food weaning a little before six months, but it is advised to consult with your health visitor or doctor if you want to start weaning before this point and to ensure you start absolutely no earlier than 20 weeks.

Different weaning methods

The two main approaches to weaning babies are traditional spoon-feeding and baby-led weaning.

The key difference is that with spoon-feeding purees very little chewing is required whereas with baby-led weaning your baby needs to chew their food before swallowing. Many families combine a mix of both methods which is absolutely fine – take the approach that best suits you and your child.

Foods to avoid when weaning your baby

However you choose to wean your baby, there are certain foods that should be avoided:

  • Sugar, as this causes tooth decay.
  • Salt, as this puts strain on the baby’s kidneys and can cause dehydration.
  • Gluten (wheat, oats, rye) before 6 months.
  • Honey must not be given to children under 1 year old. This is because honey can sometimes carry a bacteria which causes a serious illness in young children called ‘infant botulism’.
  • Processed foods and fizzy drinks.
  • Raw or lightly cooked eggs before 6 months, as this carries a risk of salmonella.
  • Shellfish should not be given until the child is over 1 year old as it can cause food poisoning and can be linked to allergies.
  • Unpasteurised cheeses such as brie and camembert should only be given after 1 year of age due to the risk of listeria.
  • Nuts should not be given in the chopped or whole form as they pose a choking risk. It is advised not to give children nuts until after the age of 5 years due to the risk of allergic reactions.
  • Chopped or whole nuts should not be given to children under the age of 5 years old as they are a choking hazard. However you can give your child nuts and peanuts from six months old if they are crushed, ground or in the form of peanut or almond butter.

Slow and steady

Weaning is a long, gradual process, whichever approach you decide to take. In the beginning, it’s all about introducing new foods to your child. They are still getting the nutrients they need from their milk feeds so don’t worry if at first, it seems like nothing’s actually going in. It’s as much a process of exploration as anything else.

However you choose to handle weaning baby at home is what we will replicate at N Family, it’s important to remain consistent to help your baby build a positive relationship with food and we will always facilitate that.

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