Today we’re talking weaning with Nutritionist Chrissy Denton, who gives us her honest, practical advice on how to get your baba onto eating solid food. Stay tuned as next week we’ll be exploring a different approach by talking to an advocate of Baby Led Weaning!
Some babies are generally hungrier and may need the extra nutrients from food as early as 4 months. In this case I would recommend introducing solids at 4 months starting with a smooth and sloppy puree of baby rice cereal. However, it is important to get the all-clear from your pediatrician as some babies’ may experience digestive problems if solids are introduced too early or they may be at risk for allergies.
What are some signs to look out for that your baby is ready to wean?
Knowing when to start weaning your baby can be a difficult decision and a little scary as you soon realize your little baby is growing up! Common signs include: still seeming hungry after a full feed from both breasts or a 250ml bottle of formula, waking up earlier or during the night where they have usually slept through and looking interested in what you are eating.
What do you recommend should be the first food that is tried?
If you’ve been given the ok to start solids at 4 months then the best food to start with is infant/baby cereal mixed with breastmilk or formula. Just start with a couple of teaspoons as most of it will probably end up on the babies face, clothes or after frustration, down the sink. Hang in there as it does get easier! Once they are 6 months you can add more variety such as mashed fruits and strained vegetables. These include pureed apples, bananas, sweet potato, pumpkin, peas and broccoli.
Do you need a high chair immediately if you are planning to begin weaning?
Living in Hong Kong we are always struggling to find space or storage in our apartments therefore having a highchair is not always necessary. If you have the space then great, highchairs are definitely easier in keeping your baby still while attempting to get the food in their mouth. Otherwise if you live in a shoe box like us, try a portable highchair such as a Dinky Diner or a Bumbo chair; this will easily do the trick.
Are there particular brands of baby food you would recommend as safe/nutritious? Or do you believe that all baby food should be made from scratch?
Making your own baby food ensures that you know exactly what goes into it. When beginning your baby on solids it is always better to start with home-made baby foods as it includes the best and freshest ingredients, plus you have complete control over them. However, during periods of travel and outings with friends taking homemade food with us becomes more difficult. Try to look for a baby food that contains just fruit and veges and no added extras. Brands I love are ‘Ella’s Kitchen’, ‘Rafferty’s Garden’ and ‘Only Organic’ as they include squeezy pouches that are easily portable, light weight and can be fed anywhere hot or cold. My daughter loves them and they have been a life saver for me. Most of them are organic so you know they are getting only the best ingredients.
When buying baby foods, start with those containing just single ingredients preferably, and gluten-free for babies under 6 months. Avoid any foods with colourings, anti-oxidants, emulsifiers and stabilizers with an E number. Avoid desserts such as baby custards and puddings because they are high in sugar. Naturally sweetened foods such as fruit are a better option and provide more nutrients.
Where do you sit on the Baby-Led weaning debate?
As a parent I’m all about simplicity, no fuss and making the parent’s job easier. However, while baby-led weaning can help avoid picky eaters and can teach the child independence early on, it can also be time consuming and very messy. Also being a health professional, I worry that the baby might miss out on key nutrients from not having purees in the beginning stages.
If my baby doesn’t like certain foods, should I continue to try to give them?
Babies will go through different stages of being fussy and it can be frustrating. One day they will love it and the next day they may spit it out. Most babies will do this because the food is new and strange, the general rule is to try something 3-4 times (or after a few days break) as they will be more willing to try it when it’s familiar.
Chrissy Denton is a nutritionist and mum to a beautiful daughter with another baby on the way! The lovely Chrissy is the founder of Bebe 2 Be, a brand-new online store specializing in eco-friendly bamboo babywear and feeding accessories for mother and baby.