Breast or formula milk

Weaning should be started slowly! Before or after the baby’s usual feed or in between if the baby prefers offer one small plastic teaspoon of: Smooth vegetable purée such as carrot, parsnip, potato or yam, or Fruit purée such as banana, cooked apple, pear or mango, or Cereal (not wheat-based) such as baby rice, maize, cornmeal or millet. It is recommended to start with one teaspoonful although babies weaned at six months may take a considerable amount more. The food which is offered should be about the same thickness of single cream. It takes most babies some time before they will eat food from a spoon, so patience is required and it can get messy! Babies may cry between mouthfuls of food because up until now they have received food in a continuous flow whereas now they have frustrating pauses.

Babies should not be forced upon to take the food which is offered, if they will not take it the food, feeding should be stopped and tried again another time (it can take up to 12 times of offering a food before it is accepted). The idea at this stage is to get the baby to eat from a spoon, as they will still be getting their nutrition from breast or formula milk.  At this stage babies will still mainly be given breast milk or formula milk, but when both mother and baby are ready the amount of solid food given can be increased. At the same time feeding of solid food can gradually be increased from one feed a day to three feeds.

Full fat cow’s milk products can now be offered such as yogurt and cheese. Now different foods and different tastes can be added. Lots of the foods the mother eats her self can be given but they just need to be given in a mashed ,sieved, or puréed form in small amounts, but salt, honey or sugar mustn’t be added. Other foods which can be offered are: bread, pasta, barley, citrus fruits, well cooked eggs with solid yolks, cubes of cheese as ‘finger food’, fish and shellfish.

Each day the baby should be given 2 or 3 servings of starchy foods e.g. pasta, rice, bread, potatoes, 2 servings of fruit and vegetables and 1 serving of meat, fish, pulses. Once the baby can hold things in their hands they will like to eat foods which are easy to pick up and eat these are known as ‘finger foods’. Soft finger foods should be offered e.g. toast, cheese cubes, cooked carrots, ripe peeled banana.

Stage 3 Solid foods are now a larger part of the baby’s diet which is why at this stage it is important to offer a wide range of different foods. This is so babies get all the minerals and vitamins they need, they should also still be having 500-600ml of breast of formula milk a day. Two to three servings a day should be given of starchy foods such as potatoes, yams, rice or bread. Babies should have one serving of soft cooked meat, fish, egg, tofu or pulses such as beans or lentils (Dahl) a day. Red meat such as beef, lamb and pork is an excellent source of iron. Eggs (well cooked) are a quick, nutritious and cheap source of protein.

Babies are still continuing to develop so foods with a thicker consistency and a lumpier texture can be introduced to encourage them to learn to chew and manage small pieces of food, even if they don’t have teeth yet. Finger foods such as toast, bread, breadsticks, pitta bread or chapatti, peeled apple, banana, carrot sticks, or cubes of cheese are ideal to give. Sweet biscuits such as rusks should be avoided as babies will then get into the habit of expecting sweet snacks.

Meals should be started with solid foods and be finished with a drink of breast of formula milk. As babies start to eat more solids they need less and less milk, however it should be provided at waking and bedtime.

Stage 4 At this stage children are becoming increasingly more active. As babies become increasingly used to eating solid foods, they should be learning to fit in with the family by eating three minced or chopped meals a day, plus breast or formula milk as the main drink (around 500–600ml a day). They should also be given fruit or other healthy snacks between meals. When babies are on the move, (he or she may have started crawling), the amount of food given needs to be increased.

Babies have small stomachs and they need energy to grow, so make they will need full-fat dairy products. Cutting back on fat is sensible for adults, but not for babies or young children. Foods to be avoided are: salt, honey, sugar and foods to be avoided up to the age of six months: eggs, shellfish, nuts and seeds, wheat based foods.


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