Styles of Weaning
If you’re a parent, you’ll know that certain topics of conversation can become a little controversial. Sleeping, feeding, cuddling, crying and weaning all become part of the so-called “mummy wars” and it seems that everyone has an opinion. Social media is a great place to source out information but it’s also full of people with a lot to say for themselves.
The chances are that you’ve got a gaggle (in the nicest possible sense) of friends and family who want to share their own experiences on what you should do.
And of course it’s only natural that when it comes to the most precious thing in your life you should do the absolute best you can.
So, when it comes to weaning onto solids what do you do?
The age at which it’s recommended to wean babies has changed quite a few times over the last few years, which is why there’s a lot of confusion. Current research indicates that the gut and the digestive system matures enough to allow solid foods at around 6 months and so the official NHS and WHO (World Health Organisation) suggest nothing but milk until your baby reaches 6 months.
I did give both of mine a little baby rice from 4 months and it never caused them any harm, but I think you have to do what you feel right.
Every baby is different and while some might be “ready” at the 6 month mark, others might not be. Some babies only play with food until they’re about 12 months old and this is also perfectly fine as long as their weight gain is still good. However, if your baby is doing the three things below, they’re giving you signs that they’re ready for food.
- They’re sitting up independently and holding their head steady
- They can co-ordinate their hands, mouth and eyes, so effectively look at food, pick it up and deliver it to their mouths.
- They don’t push food out of their mouths with their tongue. This action indicates that they’re not ready to swallow solids yet.
In the run up to your child being actually “ready” for solids, you might see them staring at your food or putting their hands to their mouths. These are often mistaken as being signs of readiness but many health care professionals now recognise that these are just normal signs of development and are nothing to do with hunger or them wanting your dinner!
What to feed
There are also differing opinions when it comes to first foods. Traditional baby firsts such as rusks or baby rice have fallen out of favour with many people because they’re sweet or have little nutritional value.
So, you can choose to either feed your baby purees such as fruit or vegetables, or you can opt for baby led weaning, which is to say that you give your baby finger sized and shaped portions of your own food and allow them to eat at their own pace. Your health visitor or local children’s centre should be able to give you practical advice on both choices so you and your family can decide the right option for your baby.
What age did you wean your baby?