Babies, weaning

Weaning means gradually introducing a range of solid foods to your baby, until they are eating the same food as the rest of your family. As your baby eats more solids, they will want less milk. An important part of weaning is to develop muscles associated with oromotor skills and speech.

Spoon feeding is the gradual introduction of foods, other than milk, into your baby’s diet. It involves introducing your baby to family food. All babies and young children need energy and nutrients to help them grow and develop. A well planned diet can provide all the nutrients your baby needs.

When do I start weaning my child?

You should start giving your baby solid foods when they are around six months old, as well as breast or formula milk.

Before six months, your baby's gut is still developing and they need only breast or formula milk. Weaning too soon may increase the risk of infections and allergies.

A lot of the information and advice in the next few sections was supplied by the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute

Spoon feeds should be started about 6 months (26 weeks). It is safe to start your baby on solids after 17 weeks. The exact time for introduction will depend on your baby’s signs of readiness.

Introducing spoon feeds before 17 weeks is not recommended as your baby’s digestive system is not ready yet. Early introduction of spoon feeds (before 17 weeks) can increase the chance of your baby becoming overweight in later life and the risk of food intolerance. Starting spoon feeds later than 26 weeks can lead to fussy eating and possible food intolerances. It also increases the risk of iron deficiency.

How do I know my baby is ready?

The signs that your baby is ready for solid food include:

•Have good head control

•Show interest in foods; your baby may look at food eagerly, watch when you eat and chew their hands

•Able to sit up with support

•Start to look for milk feeds more frequently over more than a week

Positioning

Babies should be fed in an upright position. A high chair, travel chair or bumper is best, where your baby can look straight ahead when feeding.

BABIES BORN PRETERM

The process of weaning may take longer in babies born preterm. Most preterm babies are ready to wean between five and eight months of age. However it is generally best to wait until your preterm baby is at least three months corrected age so that they have developed enough head control. The exact timing will depend on your baby’s readiness.

Signs of readiness include:

• Your baby is easily supported in a sitting position

• Your baby can hold their head in a stable position

• Your baby is alert and looking ready for a new type of feeding

• Your baby is showing interest in other people eating

• Feeding from the breast or bottle is going well

• Your baby can bring their hands to their mouth and are putting things (e.g. toys) into their mouth

• Your baby is making “munching” (up and down) movements with the mouth when putting things to their mouth

WHAT SHOULD MY BABY DRINK?

  • Breast milk is the best choice of drink as it provides the best balance of nutrients for your baby. It promotes healthy growth and development, along with many other benefits such as a stronger immune system. Breast milk provides all the nutrients your baby needs until they are 6 months old. At this stage spoon feeds should be introduced.
  • Infant formula is the only substitute for breast milk during the first year. The formula labelled stage one or new-born is suitable for babies from birth to 1 year. If following a vegetarian diet note, not all formula milks contain vegetarian or vegan ingredients – check the label.
  • Follow-on formula is suitable for babies from 6 months but should not be used for babies under 6 months. If following a vegetarian diet note, not all formula milks contain vegetarian ingredients – check the label.
  • Soya based formula is not recommended for babies under 6 months, including babies with an intolerance or allergy to cow’s milk protein or lactose. Soya based formula is only recommended for specific medical conditions under the care of a medical specialist.
  • Cow’s milk should not be used as a drink until after 1 year, as it is low in iron and too high in sodium. Cow’s milk can be used in cooking foods from 6 months.
  • Water The most suitable water for your baby is cooled boiled tap water. Avoid giving your baby filtered water or artificially softened water as they contain high levels of salt. If tap water is not suitable use bottled water that has a sodium content less than 20mg per litre (as shown on the label), bottled water should also be boiled and cooled.
  • Juice Babies don’t need fruit juice. If you choose to allow juice, wait until your baby is at least 6 months old. Only use unsweetened, 100% juice diluted down to 1 part juice and 8 to 10 parts water.

All babies require vitamin D drops until at least 1 year of age. These drops need to provide 5ug or 200 IU of Vitamin D a day. Ask your pharmacist for further information about vitamin D drops.

Cup or beaker

From 6 months gradually introduce a cup or beaker for drinks. Aim to replace all bottles with a cup by the time your baby is one year old. Breast milk or infant formula should continue to be your baby’s main drink for the first year of life.

 

Useful Links

Breastfeeding

Health A-Z: bottle feeding

What's Up Mum

http://www.healthpromotion.ie/hp-files/docs/HPM00381.pdf

 

 

Spoon feeds should be started about 6 months (26 weeks). It is safe to start your baby on solids after 17 weeks. The exact time for introduction will depend on your baby’s signs of readiness.

How to start?

•Choose a time when your baby is not too hungry

•Introduce one new food at a time, leaving one to two days between each new food to see if your baby has a reaction or intolerance to a food

•Introduce the spoon slowly to your baby’s mouth so they can suck the food from the spoon

•Give a little of their usual milk first if they are too focused on the spoon feed

•Offer small amounts of spoon feeds, e.g. 2-3 baby spoons, to start with, but allow your baby to take more as they demand

•Once your baby is managing to take food from the spoon, spoon feeds can be spaced out between bottle feeds

•Never add foods to a bottle, always give from a spoon

Consistency

First foods should be smooth thin puree without any lumps. Make the puree thicker as your baby learns to take food from the spoon. Use expressed breast milk, infant formula or cooled boiled water to make up feeds. Cow’s milk can be used in cooking after 6 months. Some purees may need to be sieved to remove lumps and fibrous parts.

Note: Babies take time to learn how to swallow food. If your baby seems to spit food out, this does not mean they don’t like it, they are just getting used to spoon feeding. Your baby may reject new tastes initially, but if you offer this food again they may like them. It may take several tastes before a baby will accept a new flavour, so retry any food that is refused.

Suggested Suitable Foods at Stage 1:
 Cereals e.g. baby rice, sago, millet, porridge, baby cereal

 Pureed vegetables and pulses

e.g. carrot, parsnip, courgette, aubergine, turnip, pumpkin, squash, potato, sweet potato, plantain, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, spinach, peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas, butter beans, and kidney beans

 Peeled and pureed fruit e.g. banana, mango, avocado, peach, apple, pear, apricots and plum
 Chicken, fish, meat and eggs can be introduced but these should be well cooked
Babies should not be given salt or use foods high in salt. Avoid using regular stock cubes, gravy and packets or jars of sauce as these contain a lot of salt.

What about Gluten?

Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. Gluten should be given to your baby about 6 months of age. Introducing gluten before 4 months of age or after 7 months of age can increase risk of developing coeliac disease or type 1 diabetes.

At first, small amounts of gluten should be given and this should slowly be increased over the following 4 to 6 weeks:

 Week 1: Give one portion every 3 days

 Week 2: Give one portion every 2 days

 Week 3: Give one portion every day

 Week 4: More than one portion can be given every day

One portion of gluten containing food includes:

 5-6 spoons of baby cereal containing gluten

 ½ weetabix

 1 rusk

 1 heaped spoon couscous

 Other foods containing gluten include; pasta, bread, crackers and foods containing flour.

Useful Links

Breastfeeding

Health A-Z: bottle feeding

What's Up Mum

http://www.healthpromotion.ie/hp-files/docs/HPM00381.pdf

 

 

Babies who start spoon feeds at 6 months of age should progress without delay from stage 1 puree to stage 2 (mashed lumps and finger foods).

Consistency: Thick with soft lumps.

It is common for babies to “gag” as they move from puree to thicker textures. It can be scary when it happens but it is completely normal. “Gagging” should not be confused with choking. As your baby learns to cope with the thicker texture it will gradually go away. Babies who don’t progress to thicker textures can often become very fussy eaters.

Make the change easier by adding a little mashed or grated food to the usual puree. Then slowly add more mashed or grated food until you reach a thickened puree.

As your baby develops they will also enjoy finger foods such as, slices of peeled pear, melon, banana, bread, cooked pasta or cheese cubes.

Suitable foods -The same foods as stage one but thicker with soft lumps.

Suggested Suitable Foods at Stage 2
 Well cooked eggs  Hummus
 Well cooked chicken  Well cooked minced meat
 Oily fish  White fish
 yoghurt, pasteurised cheese, fromage frais  Tahini
 Breakfast cereal  Quorn
 Bread, pasta, noodles, cous cous, bulgar, quinoa, rice  Tofu e.g. silken tofu mixed with vegetable puree
 Pulses (well cooked)  Egg custard.

Useful Links

Breastfeeding

Health A-Z: bottle feeding

What's Up Mum

http://www.healthpromotion.ie/hp-files/docs/HPM00381.pdf

 

 

 

Increase the variety of foods and tastes. Most family foods are now suitable for your baby but make sure they do not have added salt or sugar

Consistency: Chunky, mashed texture, moving to chopped, bite size pieces.

“Finger foods” are foods which your baby can pick up in their hand and should be introduced at this stage if not earlier.

Finger food ideas

Mango, melon, kiwi, pancakes, banana, french toast, toast fingers with low salt butter, meat balls, rusks, cheese, pasta shapes, soft cooked sticks of carrot or broccoli.

FOODS TO AVOID DURING THE FIRST YEAR

Unpasteurised or mould ripened cheese: although these can be eaten if well cooked, cheeses should be pasteurised

Salt: do not add salt to any foods. Avoid foods containing large amounts of salt such as stock cubes, soups and sauces

Added sugar: avoid adding sugar and using foods or drinks with added sugar

Honey: avoid honey until your baby is 1 year old.

Nuts: do not give whole nuts to your baby until they are at least 5 years old due to the risk of choking. Smooth nut spreads are safe

IMPORTANT NUTRIENTS FOR YOUR BABY

ENERGY: Babies and young children cannot eat large amounts of food so they need small, frequent meals. Small amounts of added fat is important to provide energy and help absorb nutrients, these include low salt butter, rapeseed oil and sunflower oil.

Good Foods for Energy includes:
ü Milk and dairy products e.g. yoghurt, cheese, fromage frais, custard, milk pudding ü Hummus
ü Avocado ü Tahini
ü Well cooked eggs ü Quorn
ü Potatoes

ü Vegetable oil, e.g. Olive, sunflower, or rapeseed oil

ü Low salt spreads and butter are also a good way to add energy to your baby’s diet

 Note: Quorn, quinoa, spelt and soya based products are useful but can be high in fibre, as result your baby may fill up before they take in enough energy.

You can add extra energy by adding oil or dairy spread or some of the foods listed in the table above.

 PROTEIN

Protein is essential for healthy growth. From 6 months include a protein source in two meals a day.

Foods containing Protein include:
ü Eggs ü Meat, beef , lamb or pork
ü Poultry e.g. chicken and turkey ü White fish e.g. cod and whiting
ü Oily fish e.g. salmon, trout and mackerel ü Quinoa, Pulses e.g. peas, beans, lentils (e.g. dhal), chick peas, humus.

If your baby follows a vegetarian diet, it is important that they include adequate protein from non-meat sources.

Vegetarian Foods containing Protein include:
ü Eggs ü Tofu
ü Milk and dairy products ü Tahini paste
ü Pulses e.g. peas, beans, lentils (e.g. dhal), chick peas, humus. ü Quorn

IRON

Iron is essential for healthy blood, normal growth and development. Iron is important for your baby’s brain development especially between 6 months and 2 years of age. Your baby is born with iron stores but by the age of 4-6 months these stores begin to run out and they need a source of iron from their diet.

 

Foods containing Iron:
ü Beef ü Dark poultry
ü Lamb ü Oily fish e.g. salmon
ü Liver

If your baby follows a vegetarian diet, it should be carefully planned to make sure it provides enough iron for your baby.

Vegetarian foods containing Iron include:
ü Eggs (well cooked) ü Dark green leafy vegetables e.g. spinach, cabbage, kale, broccoli
ü Cereals with added (fortified) iron ü Tahini paste
ü Pulses e.g. peas, beans, lentils, dhal, chick peas. ü Dried fruit e.g. raisins, sultanas, dates, apricots, figs (soaked and pureed/ chopped)

**Never give your baby tea to drink as it blocks absorption of iron from foods

IRON AND VITAMIN C

Although vegetarian foods contain iron, this iron needs a source of vitamin C so it can be absorbed by your baby. If foods are over cooked they lose some of their vitamin C content, so fruit, vegetables and pulses should be cooked to preserve the nutrients. The skin can be left on during cooking and then removed by hand or by using a sieve after cooking.

Vegetarian foods containing Iron include:
ü Eggs (well cooked) ü Dark green leafy vegetables e.g. spinach, cabbage, kale, broccoli
ü Cereals with added (fortified) iron ü Tahini paste
ü Pulses e.g. peas, beans, lentils, dhal, chick peas. ü Dried fruit e.g. raisins, sultanas, dates, apricots, figs (soaked and pureed/ chopped

VITAMIN D

Is important for healthy bones and may prevent some illnesses and infections. All babies should be given a vitamin D supplement providing 5 micrograms (g) or 200 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily until they are at least 1 year old. Vitamin D is also found in oily fish (salmon, mackerel, herring and tuna) and eggs.

ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS

These include omega 3 and omega 6. Babies need a source of these fatty acids in their diet. They are naturally found in breast milk and are added to infant formula milk. The main food source of these fatty acids is oily fish in particular salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines, kippers and herring. Vegetarian sources include rapeseed (canola) oil, flax seeds, linseeds, walnuts, or their oils.

Flax seed or linseed oil should not be heated in cooking but rather added after cooking, it should be stored under manufactures guidelines and discarded if it becomes rancid. Although flax seeds themselves can also be used they are very bulky and high in fibre for your baby’s digestive system, so your baby may fill up before they eat enough. You can add extra energy by adding oil or dairy spread or some of the foods listed in the “Good Food for Energy” table above.

VITAMIN B12

This vitamin is needed for a healthy nervous system and healthy blood. Vitamin B12 is found mainly in animal foods. Vegetarians get their vitamin B12from other sources such as breast or formula milk, some dairy products, eggs and foods fortified with vitamin B12(check food labels). Babies who follow a varied diet including a mix of these foods do not generally need a vitamin B12 supplement. Babies of mothers who have low vitamin B12levels may be at risk of deficiency – ask your doctor for further advice.

If you are considering weaning your baby onto a vegan diet you should get advice from a Community or Paediatric Dietitian.

Useful Links

Breastfeeding

Health A-Z: bottle feeding

What's Up Mum

http://www.healthpromotion.ie/hp-files/docs/HPM00381.pdf

 

 

 

Stage 1 Recipes - 17 to 26 weeks

Stage 2 Recipes - 6 to 9 months

Stage 3 Recipes - 9 to 12 months onward

 

Stage 1: 17 to 26 weeks

Puree Carrot and Sweet Potato

Ingredients

250g carrot

250g sweet potato

1. Peel and chop vegetables into small cubes

2. Ideally cook in steamer for 15 to 20 minutes. You can also boil but use minimum amount of water

3. When soft blend the vegetables into a puree using a blender or liquidiser. Add the water from the steamer or the pot

4. Allow to cool and serve warm about 2 to 6 tea spoons although your baby may take more as they become familiar with it

The remainder can be frozen.

When your baby is more familiar with the food and managing to take food from the spoon they will generally take 100 to 125 ml of puree per meal time but amounts will vary depending on your baby’s appetite and growth.

Note: This simple recipe can be followed for a range of vegetables.

Puree Pear

Ingredients

2 pears

1. Remove the core. Peel and chop pears into small cubes

2. Cover with a little water and cook on a low heat for about 4 minutes

3. When soft blend the pears into a puree using a blender or liquidiser

4. Allow to cool and serve warm about 2 to 6 tea spoons although your baby may take more as they become familiar with it.

The remainder can be frozen.

When your baby is more familiar with the food and managing to take food from the spoon they will generally take 100 to 125 ml of puree per meal time but amounts will vary depending on your baby’s appetite and growth.

After a few weeks of spoon feeds the fruit can be blended without any cooking.

Note: This simple recipe can be followed for a range of fruits.

Mashed Banana

Ingredients

Ripe Banana

1. Mash/blend ripe banana with cooled boiled water or your baby’s milk to make a puree.

2. Serve fresh.

As your baby gets older the banana can be mashed without blending or adding milk.

Banana and Peach

Ingredients

1 ripe peach

1 small ripe banana

30ml (1oz) apple juice

1 table spoon baby rice

1. Peel and chop the peach into cubes

2. Peel and slice the banana

3. Place the slices of banana and peach into a saucepan with the apple juice, cover the pan and simmer for 3 minutes

4. Add the rice and puree using a blender or liquidiser

5. Allow to cool and serve warm

Once your baby is accepting food from a spoon they should be given meat, chicken, fish, beans and lentils to meet their needs for protein and iron.

 

Chicken with Tomato Sauce

Ingredients

140g/ 5oz chicken cut into chunks

25g/ 1oz onion peeled and diced

100g/4oz carrot sliced

2 dessert spoons (60ml/2oz) rapeseed oil (vegetable or mild olive oil can also be used)

Half a can of chopped tomatoes (200g/6.5oz)

100g/4oz potatoes peeled and chopped

150ml/ 5oz of low salt or homemade chicken stock

50ml milk

1. Fry the chicken for 3-4 minutes, add the onion, potatoes and carrot. Continue frying for 3 minutes

2. Pour in the chicken stock and the half tin of chopped tomatoes

3. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked

4. Add the milk and blend to a smooth paste

A baby will generally take 100 to 125 ml per meal time but amounts will vary depending on your baby’s appetite and growth.

Note: As your baby gets older the same recipe can be used without the milk and blended to a thicker lumpy texture.

Useful Links

Breastfeeding

Health A-Z: bottle feeding

What's Up Mum

http://www.healthpromotion.ie/hp-files/docs/HPM00381.pdf

 

Content provided by NHS Choices www.nhs.uk and adapted for Ireland by the Health A-Z.

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