Guest post on weaning by Annabel Karmel

Weaning is a pretty big milestone in the first year of parenthood, and it can be quite daunting. Introducing solids is a gentle process with no fixed steps; some babies progress more quickly than others and some babies aren’t keen on getting started at all. Therefore don’t expect every day to be the same and some days they might not want to try food at all but have their usual milk.

Between 6 and 12 months your baby will tend to eat pretty well, so take advantage of this to introduce a variety of new flavours that will hopefully set them on a path of healthy eating for life.

  • From around 6 months, your baby’s regular milk will no longer provide them with all the nutrients they need – in particular, vitamin D and iron.  However it is important to remember that your baby’s milk will continue to form a significant part of her nutrition for many months to come.

  • Very first foods should be easy to digest and unlikely to provoke an allergy. I like to begin with root vegetables like carrot or sweet potato as these have a naturally sweet taste which babies like.  All the orange vegetables are good for your baby as they are rich in betacarotene, the plant form of vitamin A, which is important for growth and helps protect your baby from infection.
  • Apple and pear make good first fruit purees and if you freeze individual flavours you can make up your own combinations like mixing together a cube of apple and pear puree.
  • Banana, papaya and avocado are good ‘no cook’ baby food and can simply be mashed; they are also great for taking away on trips out and don’t need lots of packaging!
  • If your baby is struggling to take to a spoon sit with them and using a clean finger dip in a little of the puree and feed them from your finger.
  • Breastfeeding or bottle feeling is a very close experience you have with your child, in order to make the transfer onto solid food make it an intimate experience by holding them close to you and give them lots of cuddles.
  • From around 6 months, neither breast or formula milk provide your baby with all the nutrients they need– in particular, vitamin D and iron.  The iron a baby inherits from his mother starts to run out at 6 months, so it is important to introduce some tasty beef purees or for if your baby is being brought up as a vegetarian, lentils are a good source of iron.
  • Oily fish like salmon is important for the development of your baby’s brain, vision and nervous system.  A baby’s brain triples in size in the first year and so it’s important to include oily fish in your baby’s diet from 6 months. Ideally you should give your baby oily fish twice a week.
  • Don’t be tempted to add salt or sugar to your baby’s food however bland. Salt may harm your baby’s kidneys and sugar will encourage a sweet tooth. A baby is not used to these tastes so will not miss them
  • It is important to vary a child’s diet and not only give them fruit and vegetables as they need calories to develop and grow to become strong. Babies do not have the same diet as adults.  Babies need more fat and less fibre in their diet. 
  • It’s important to introduce protein to the diet fairly quickly after you have given your baby a variety of fruit and vegetables.  Red meat is a particularly important source of iron (babies iron supply runs out around 6 months) and oily fish such as salmon contains essential fatty acids needed for brain and visual development

More weaning tips from Annabel Karmel can be found in her cook book Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner –  Ebury Press £14.99

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