Weaning – The Basics

What age should my child begin solids?
The information out there can be quite contradictory. Some pediatricians say four to five months (way too early!), while some stick to the six month mark. The truth is that the age for weaning depends on the child’s physical and mental readiness to wean. Physically, a child’s digestive system needs time to mature before they begin solids, and the six month mark is the average age for this. Baby also needs to show signs of readiness to wean (see below). Six months is the average age, but there are developmental signs that show when baby is truly ready, and the age will differ from child to child. Some might be ready at six months old, and some won’t care for solids until weeks later…and that’s fine, as their mother’s milk or formula will still be their primary source of nutrition until around 12 months. Read here to find out the science behind the reason for waiting until at LEAST six months.

What are signs of readiness for solids?
•Sit up on their own: Baby MUST be able to sit up without support. I’m not referring to those Bumbo floor seats which basically force children into the seated position (and they are actually really bad for children’s backs). A child who is ready to wean needs to be able to sit up completely, and on their own.
•Able to chew
•Baby has good head support
•Possesses the skills to grab solid food and place in mouth unassisted

What is Baby Led Weaning (BLW)
It’s skipping the purees and going straight to finger food.

Does my baby need pureed food?
Absolutely not. Once a child can pick up food, chew and swallow it, they can eat what we eat. The only thing to consider is the fact that if they have no teeth, you’ll probably want to keep that into consideration. You can hand mash, cut or chop the same food we we eat to make it suitable for them to consume on their own. Personally I like to offer both, so that they can get acquainted with different flavours, colours and textures. That being said, offering purees doesn’t mean the same as spoon feeding. I know many parents who are against spoon feeding, but with their own spoon and bowl, babies can learn to feed themselves, whether it be finger foods or smoothie bowls/purees. Don’t let social media or random articles online convince you that you MUST be one or the other. Food is food. What’s more important is that it’s healthy.

When did your children begin solids?
Our first born was around six months, our second child was around seven months, and our last child was six and a half months.

What food should I start with?
It’s up to you! Fruits and vegetables are superior in terms of nutritional benefits, so I would begin there. Soft food such as avocado, banana or steamed veggies works well. Personally I favour focusing on veggies and greens initially. Human milk is sweet to the taste, which makes sense, as fruits are high in fiber, anti-oxidants and vitamins, putting them in first place of the plant based food pyramid. Since humans are naturally attracted to sweet flavours, I would start with greens and veggies, for my little one to develop a taste for them early on. For this reason, I do not advise using fruits or sugars to sweeten veggie combos, as they need to appreciate the veggies as is. All that being said, children can eat what we eat, but beware of refined sugar, oil and table salt. They’re not healthy for anyone, especially children. If you do share your food with them, be sure to avoid food that may be oily, or have ingredients that aren’t good for their developing little tummies.

What about rice cereal?
Traditional rice cereal is processed, not fresh, and the levels of arsenic in rice has parents questioning it a lot lately.

What is co-eating
When my children weaned, I LOVED sitting them on my lap, and sharing a plate. This is co-eating. I made sure to cut everything up small enough to avoid choke hazard. Sitting them on your lap turns the experience into a relaxing setting, where there is less pressure to eat, and more room to observe and eventually mimic the act of self feeding.

Heads up
-Weaning can get a little messy, but them explore. This is a big stage for them.
-Solids before one are just for fun. Their primary source for nutrition before that should still be human milk or some type of replacement formula.
-Gagging in the beginning is normal. It’s their body telling them they’ve put too much food in their mouths. If baby’s face changes colour, they are unable to cough or make a sound, these could be signs of chocking. Always supervise them while they are eating.

**Full weaning guide coming soon, but feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.
info.babyfoodideas@gmail.com

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