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It can be very confusing for parents when it comes to weaning babies to solid foods. Before 2003 parents were advised to wean from four months. This has now changed to six months after global research showed that it can be very harmful to wean before six months. There are several reasons for this:
Your baby may stop absorbing enough nutrients from breast or bottle milk
There is an increased risk of allergies and infections
Your baby’s digestive systems may not be developing enough to handle solid food
With this new information it would really be unwise, regardless of other peoples opinions, to introduce solids six months ago.
When it’s time to introduce solids, it’s always best to start with just one food. Baby rice cereal is a perfect choice when starting to wean babies. There are quite a few on the market, but always look for baby food that has no added sugar or salt. There are also organic options on the market that are very good. Always remember to start small, using only a few teaspoons, and make sure you mix with breast or formula milk. Start once a day and slowly increase the portions until your baby eats a maximum of 2 spoons. Make sure the consistency is thin until your baby gets used to eating. Always look for any signs of allergies and check for rashes or loose bowels.
Once your baby can tolerate baby cereal easily, then it’s time to slowly introduce new foods. Make sure the food is pureed so that it is easy for your baby to swallow. You want to make this a pleasant experience for your baby and choking and gagging will not be fun for either of you. Simple vegetables and fruits are always a good second phase food. Wait at least 3 days before introducing each new food, as this will give you a chance to see if your baby has any allergic reactions to specific foods.
A good choice for vegetables is pumpkin, potato, sweet potato, carrots, turnips. Most babies love fruit because it’s sweet but start with small portions because fruit can be full of sugars. Banana is always a great fruit to start with as it can be easily chopped just like pear and apples. A great way to organize your baby’s meals is to cook your vegetables, clean and then place in ice cube trays and pop in the freezer. That way there is always food for your baby and it is much more convenient than having to make a separate meal every night.
Any meat you introduce will need to be cleaned and chicken is always a good introduction to meat in your baby’s diet. Your baby can also be introduced to sugar-free animals and bread.
Once your baby has a few teeth, it’s easier to introduce less finely pureed foods. From around 8 months most babies will have a few teeth although regardless of how much they may be ready for food that has not been thoroughly cleaned. Up to this age they love finger food, although remember this is a very messy stage. It can be very time consuming for your baby to eat finger foods, but allow it as it helps with their hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. Now you can look at introducing fish, pasta, rice and well-cooked and ground meats. It is recommended that babies should not be introduced to cow’s milk until after 12 months due to the risk of allergies. There are many baby custards on the market that do not have cow’s milk and most babies love the sweet taste. There are also yogurts on the market that are made for babies over 6 months and these are a great choice for deserts. Mixed with pureed fruits they are a wonderful addition to your baby’s diet.
There are certain foods that should be avoided when you start weaning babies. These include:
any hard food that could cause choking such as sultanas, raisins, raw vegetables and hard raw fruit.
Any known allergy triggers such as egg whites, nuts, shellfish and gluten grains
some processed foods that contain added sugars and high salt content. Canned foods are notorious for added salt, so read the labels carefully
Sugars, sugars and sugars. This includes cakes, lollipops, juices, soft drinks and chocolates.
What you introduce to your child from a young age will determine their diet for the rest of their life. When weaning babies If you introduce fruits, vegetables and unprocessed foods, you are giving your baby the best chance for a healthy life.
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