Around the six-month mark, most babies are prepared to explore the world of solid foods. Three crucial signs indicate that your little one is set for this culinary adventure: they can sit unaided with a stable head; they can coordinate their eyes, hands, and mouth, enabling them to observe, grab, and consume food independently; and they can swallow food instead of spitting it out. It's vital to remember that, much like any developmental milestones, such as smiling or walking, the pace of weaning varies amongst babies. During the initial stages of introducing solids, it's not so much about replacing milk; instead, it's about letting your baby experience new textures and flavours.
What's on the menu?
Your first solid-food endeavours should incorporate blended fruits and vegetables, such as sweet potato, parsnip, apple, or carrot, all cooled before consumption. Baby rice or cereal combined with your baby's usual milk also offers a good start. Remember never to add any food to a baby’s bottle, including rusks, as it can harm their teeth and cause choking.
Once your baby becomes accustomed to this, they can graduate to finger foods like ripe peach, melon, banana, or avocado slices. Other fabulous finger foods include unsalted, sugar-free rice cakes, pitta bread, toast, cooked veggies like cauliflower or broccoli, cheese cubes, and cooked pasta shapes.
Equipment and how to integrate weaning in to your routine
The practicalities of weaning involve certain necessary equipment such as a highchair, bibs, and baby-friendly cutlery (you can check out our collection here). However, weaning also has a social dimension. To ease your baby into mealtimes, try having them join the family meal times. Supply them with a soft weaning spoon even before the weaning begins; they'll likely mimic the family and explore it with their mouth. Watching others relish their food can spark curiosity and encourage them to participate!
What's off the table?
Foods high in fat, sugar, and saturated fats are a no-go, so bid farewell to bacon, sausages, ready meals, crackers, crisps, biscuits, and cakes. Honey, unpasteurised cheese, raw shellfish, shark, swordfish, marlin, and whole nuts should also be avoided for various health reasons. Also, remember not to add salt or sugar to your baby's food as these can be harmful.
Dealing with rejection and favouritism
If your baby rejects unfamiliar foods, especially those with bitter or sour flavours, don't despair. Persistence is key, and it can take up to ten tries for a baby to accept a new texture or taste. It's tempting to give in to their love for sweet foods, but including non-sweet vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach in their diet will expose them to a variety of flavours and prevent them from being picky eaters in the future.
Baby-led weaning & patience
Baby-led weaning allows your child to feed themselves with finger food instead of being spoon-fed pureed or mashed food. There's no absolute right or wrong in this; it's about what suits you and your baby best. The ultimate aim is to ensure a diverse diet and adequate nutrients for your baby.
If your baby is resistant to lumpy food or refuses to eat off a spoon, patience and persistence come into play again. Keep offering lumpy food and spoon feeds, and they will gradually accept these changes.
Weaning hygiene and habits
After six months, you no longer need to sterilise your baby's bowls and spoons, but it's critical to clean them thoroughly with hot water. Meanwhile, all bottle-feeding equipment should be sterilised until your baby turns one, according to NHS advice.
It's quite normal for babies to reject food occasionally due to various reasons, like feeling unwell or not being hungry. It's essential not to force them to eat and to remember that milk is still their primary source of nutrition.
As your baby grows, you can start introducing almost any home-cooked family food that doesn't contain added salt or sugar and is of suitable consistency. Gradually introduce a variety of solid foods, including starchy foods at every meal, fruits and veggies, and one or two servings of soft-cooked meat, fish, egg, tofu, or pulses each day. If your baby seems hungry between meals, offer them their usual milk feed, as babies under 12 months do not need snacks.
Weaning products to help you on your way
Check out our collection of weaning items at Bella Bébé by clicking here.
The blog 'Guide for weaning and transitioning your baby to solid foods; When, why, how and what to avoid.' first appeared on Bella Bébé (www.bellabebe.co.uk).