It is completely up to you which foods you decide to start weaning your baby with as long as they are gentle in flavour at this stage
- Baby rice has the advantage that it can be easily mixed to the right texture with your baby’s usual milk and being quite bland, takes on the taste of your baby’s usual milk. This gives your baby a familiar taste whilst getting them used to a new texture and eating from a spoon. Mums often give this for the first few days. Do not add food to the milk in your baby’s bottle
- Purees of vegetables or fruit such as carrot, sweet potato and parsnip are also good foods to start off with
What time of day is best to start weaning?
- It’s a good idea to introduce solids at a usual feed time, as your baby will be hungry at this time
- Make sure you have plenty of time and can be relaxed, so try to choose a feed time that will allow this
- Your baby may be very hungry first thing in the morning or tired last thing at night, so you probably want to avoid introducing solids because they will be too impatient to take the food
- You may find it easiest to let your baby have some of their usual milk before you introduce the solids, as they may be hungry and impatient for their milk. They don’t yet understand that what is on the spoon is going to fill them up too
How much should babies eat in the first few mealtimes?
The first few weeks of weaning really are all about introducing the spoon and new tastes. Milk will still provide the great majority of the nutrients your baby requires and the amount they drink shouldn’t reduce in the first few weeks
- To start with, just offer them a couple of teaspoonfuls
- Over the next week, gradually increase the amount by a few spoonfuls at a time
- Take it slowly and go at your baby’s pace, their little tummies need to gradually get used to their new diet!
What about texture?
- The purees you give your baby to start with should be smooth and runny, a bit like the consistency of double cream
- As weaning progresses over the next few weeks, you should gradually thicken the texture so that they get ready for the introduction of soft lumps in stage 2 of weaning
- If you are making your purees at home, the texture will vary naturally with foods you use, and this too will gradually get your baby used to slightly different sensations in their mouth
How frequently should they have solids?
- In the first week of weaning, your baby should be having a few spoonfuls once a day
- After about one week of weaning you can increase this to twice a day, for example lunch and teatime
- By the end of the fourth week, they can be having breakfast, lunch and tea
It is better to build up the frequency of mealtimes ahead of increasing the volume at each meal, so that your baby starts to get used to having regular mealtimes as you do. Once their three meals a day are established you can really start to increase the amount they have at each feed
More helpful hints for those first few weeks of weaning
- Give your baby as much variety as you can
- Offer lots of different vegetables; savoury is an acquired taste and one which they need to learn to like as their usual milk has a slightly sweet taste
- It can take around 14 exposures to a food for a baby to begin to really like it, so do keep offering the ones they don’t seem as keen on
- You can use your baby’s usual milk or cooled boiled water to make your purees. Milk has the advantage of keeping the nutrient content of the purees up, but don’t mix everything with milk. Babies need to learn to like the individual tastes of foods, as that is how they are going to eat them later in life
- Add a knob of butter or a dash of olive oil to keep the calorie content of vegetable purees up
- Start off with single-taste purees, then after a couple of weeks, start combining the flavours too. Continue to carry on giving your baby single tastes too because again, we don’t eat everything mixed up! A good way to do this in practice is to have a couple of separate different purees in your baby’s bowl, then mix some of it together during feeding
- Introduce purees of red meats (with some vegetables) from 6 months onwards as they are a very good source of easily absorbed iron