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Weaning and Spoon-feeding
Spoon Feeding your Baby.
Current health guidelines state that you should start to give your baby spoon feeds at 6 months if you are exclusively breastfeeding (that is, your baby has had nothing but breast milk) and 4 months if you are formula feeding. Giving spoon feeds before these recommended stages is not advised as your baby may not have the ability to properly digest solid foods before this time.
Your baby will give you cues as to when he/she is ready for food by:
- Showing an interest in food, including what's on your plate
- putting fingers in his/her mouth.
- An increased appetite for breastfeeds or formula.
- Opening her mouth when food is offered on a spoon.
You will need:
- A plastic baby bowl and spoon (If you have a dishwasher ensure they are dishwasher safe).
- A baby blender or sieve.
- Ice cube trays for storage.
- If you are using a high chair ensure that it complies with safety standards and has suitable harness/straps to safely secure your baby.
- Baby bibs (lots of them).
- Wash cloth for the face and hands.
Making Pureed food
You can easily make fresh food for your baby at home when he/she is ready for more varieties of solid food. Other than baby cereals or packet/jars of food, all of your baby's food should be pureed for the first few months.
You can puree the food by
- by mashing it well then pushing it through a sieve with a spoon. The food when pureed is almost like thick liquid with no lumps. This is important as your baby cannot chew and even small lumps will be hard to swallow.
- using a food blender if you have one. You can mix the food with breast/formula milk or some cooled boiled water to make it thinner and easier for your baby to swallow
Useful Tips for first feeds
- It is important that you are relaxed and have plenty of time. This is a gradual process.
- You can expect the eating process to be very messy and slow.
- Choose a time when your baby is not too hungry.
- Baby’s first experience of spoon feeds is more about the experience than the need to nourish.
- Your baby will need some time to adjust to the new taste. You will still need to keep up the milk feeds.
- Never force the spoon feed on your baby. Let your baby taste and decide whether he wants it or not.
- If your baby does not want a certain food, try again some other time.
- Never put food (rusks, cereals) into baby bottle. This makes the feed too concentrated and may be harmful to your baby.
- Never leave your baby alone while feeding.
Make sure all the food you give your baby is within the sell by date and has been stored properly in the fridge or covered container. It is important to wash your hands and to make sure the area you are preparing your baby's food is very clean. All items to be used should be well washed and where possible sterlised (plastic spoons and sieves,). Food, particularly meat,fish or eggs should be well cooked. Vegetables and fruit should always be well washed before use.
Suitable First Foods for baby
- Pureed fruit and vegetables
- Gluten free cereals such as baby rice
- Pureed meat, peas and beans
Suitable first drinks for baby.
- Breastmilk Formula milk
- Cooled Boiled water if necessary.
- From six months onwards you can offer cool boiled water or unsweetened baby juice from a cup.
Do not give baby
- Gluten containing foods such as bread, pasta, wheat, oats, barley, and regular breakfast cereals until the baby is about 9 months old.
- Whole nuts or peanut containing products.
- Cows milk until baby is 12 months (you can gradually introduce it to mix up the food from 6 months).
- Yogurt, fromage frais or cheese until he/she is at least 6 months old
- Eggs (not under 6 months)·
- Fizzy drinks, tea and sweet fruit drinks are unsuitable drinks for baby
Making up the spoon feed.
You can mix the chosen food with water or breastmilk or formula. Mixing it with the breastmilk or formula your baby is used to will mean it also tastes vaguely familiar, which might help Baby’s first food should be runny with no lumps (Use a hand blender, liquidiser or sieve).
Start with a thin puree and make the thicker as baby gets used to feeding from the spoon. Try baby with 1/2 teaspoon for a few days and increase gradually depending on your baby's appetite. It is important to start only one food at a time to allow your baby adjust to the taste and to make sure he/she is not allergic to it. You can aim to get your baby to the stage where he/she is able to take 3 full meals per day.
If there is a history of allergies in your family, introduce solids very cautiously and speak to a doctor before you do. The longer you can avoid salt and sugar the better for baby.
Storing baby food.
- Pureed baby food can be frozen in clean ice cube trays. Spoon the puree into the trays, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for one month in the freezer.
- Alternatively, solids can be stored in covered plastic containers. They’ll keep for up to two days in the fridge or one month in the freezer.
- Remember to label the containers with the contents and use-by date.
Home made food
By preparing food yourself is that you know exactly what your baby is eating. It is also cheaper as you can prepare a large quantity of baby food and store small portions of it in ice cube trays in the freezer. Giving baby home made food makes it easier for him/her to change to normal family meals.
Ready made food
These can be expensive. They are useful for travelling or eating away from home. Choose savoury meals rather than sweetened desserts which are high in sugar. Try not to use ready made foods everyday.
It is important to make feeding time a pleasurable time for your baby and to use the time as a chance to communicate and enjoy each other’s company.