Monday, July 13, 2020

Weaning 101 - 5 Tips To Help You Wean Your Baby Onto Solids

Image credit: Pixabay

Weaning can be a tricky process. For some families, it’s as simple as offering baby a bite of food and they’re ready to take to it instantly. For others, feeding feels like a daily nightmare for both mom and baby. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. 

Weaning can be a fun experiment where you get to learn what your little one enjoys through a process of trial and error. It’s important to keep the atmosphere fun and engaging during feeding times to build positive associations with food and nourishment. Here are five tips to help you wean your baby onto solids:

1. Realistic Expectations: Respect The 12-Month Rule
Breast milk or infant formula (or a combination) remains a child’s primary source of nutrition for the first 12 months of life. While many children thrive on solids from early on, the readily-available nutrients in milk remain vital. For this reason, it’s important that you keep your expectations realistic. If your little one doesn’t express much interest in food, keep trying, but take comfort in the knowledge that milk is still meeting your baby’s primary needs. 

2. Try Different Approaches To Weaning
One method that has gained popularity recently is known as baby-led weaning. Children are given foods to enjoy in their whole form, relying on an active gag reflex to prevent choking. Parents using this method say that it’s effective because babies can choose the food they want and can eat until satisfied. 

The downside? Mess. Nervous parents can combine this method with a more traditional approach by giving baby porridge and other soft foods in order to prevent choking. When eating becomes a messy and full-bodied experience, many babies take to it with great enthusiasm. 

3. Embrace The Mess
Whether you’re practicing baby-led weaning or choosing to spoon-feed, mess is inevitable. Parents who can embrace the mess without fussing about it are more likely to have relaxed children who enjoy their food. 

Negativity and frustration at feeding times can lead to anxiety in babies, preventing them from weaning as easily as they might otherwise have done. Many parents find that changing the baby into older clothes before mealtimes is a great way to cut down their concerns about messiness. 

4. Feed Baby When You Eat
Eating is a family affair. When your little one sees everyone else eating too, it’s reassuring for them, and this communal activity is relished and enjoyed. It can be difficult for a parent to manage their own meal while feeding the baby, but if you can take it in shifts, this will help your child to feel included. 

The mealtime ritual can further the association between love and nourishment (an association which is first developed during the breastfeeding stage), encouraging a healthy appetite and a positive relationship with food. 

5. Introduce A Wide Range Of Flavours
There are so many foods to introduce in the first year. While baby cereal is a safe type of food, it contains very little nutrition and enzymes for growing bodies. If you are following the guidelines for introducing new foods safely, venture away from just the vegetables and purees. In each meal, include something savory (be very careful of foods with high sodium levels) and something sweet (always opt for fruit). 

Babies develop at different paces. Some of them are ready for solids early, while others prefer to find nourishment from the milk they’ve been enjoying up until this point. Sometimes, resistance to weaning can also be due to a fear of change. The more gradual you make the introductions to new foods, the better.