Advice on how to begin weaning your 6 month old baby, which food to use and suggested weaning recipies.
At about six moths old, when you have decided to introduce solids, offer your baby her usual breast milk or formula. When she is nearly satisfied, give her one or two teaspoons of dry baby rice mixed with enough formula or breast milk to make a runny solution. (The Department of Health recommends iron-enriched infant rice cereal as a starter food.) Baby rice is also useful, as your baby does not have to cope with new flavours as well as using different muscles. Although baby rice is the most common first food there is no reason why you cannot try vegetable or fruit purees first. You may prefer to mix baby rice with, for example, apple or carrot puree.
Give the baby rice, or whatever you have decided to give your baby, on a soft rubber-tipped spoon once a day and then finish with a milk feed. This way, he will not be so hungry that he is too frustrated to try the new food, and not too full to be interested. It does not have to be the morning feed; pick a time that is convenient for both you and your baby.
At first, your baby will seem to eat very little, and it may take a while to get even that small amount into her. Do be patient with your baby and remember it may take a little time for him to learn these new skills.
When your baby is eating two to three tablespoons of cereal a day, try adding another food. As he begins to eat and develops more of a side-to-side grinding motion, add a little less liquid so the texture becomes thicker. This allows your baby to work on chewing (gumming) and swallowing. Some experts suggest introducing one food at a time, four days apart, so that you can tell if your baby reacts adversely to a food. This way any allergies or food intolerances can be detected from the start and saves wasting time trying out all different foods to see which one caused the reaction.
Your baby's appetite will vary from one feed to the next, so watch for cues that he is full. A baby who refuses to open up for the next bite, turns away, or starts playing with his food is probably full.
- purees of vegetables such as carrots, swede, parsnips, sweet potato, courgette, butternut squash
- purees of fruits, such as apple, pear, mango, papaya, or mashed banana
- Gluten-free baby cereals, such as iron-fortified baby rice or maize flour, mixed with baby's usual milk.
Some experts suggest that it is wise to try vegetable purees before fruit ones. Fruit is sweeter and often more preferable than vegetables, trying fruit first may make it harder to persuade your baby to eat vegetables.
Once your baby is happy eating from a spoon, increase the range of foods you offer to include:
- purees of lean meat or poultry.
- purees of lentils or split peas.
- purees of mixed vegetables with potatoes or rice.
- purees which include green vegetables, such as peas, cabbage, spinach or broccoli.
- Try to limit the number of sweet or cereal purees to one a day, and always include a vegetable puree. Gradually make the food a thicker consistency.
- If your family has a history of eczema, asthma, or other allergies, avoid giving cow's milk or milk products (cheese, yogurt, fromage frais), fish and shellfish, soya beans, citrus fruit (including orange juice) or eggs, until your baby is eight months old. You may introduce these foods earlier if there is no family history, though many parents prefer to wait until eight months anyway.
- Babies from such a family should also avoid peanuts and sesame seeds up to the age of three years.
- The risk of developing coeliac disease is reduced by avoiding foods containing gluten, such as wheat, rye and barley-based foods. That includes bread, flour, pasta, some breakfast cereals and rusks until eight months. Oats are best avoided, too, in case they contain traces of gluten.
- Avoid follow-on milk until your baby is eight months.
- Do not add salt, sugar, honey or other sweeteners to your baby's food.
As your baby's eating skills grow you can increase the thickness of the foods offered to include soft lumps and mashed foods.