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It can be very confusing for parents when it comes to weaning babies onto solid foods. Before 2003 parents were advised to wean from four months. This has now been changed to six months after global research has shown that weaning before six months can actually be very harmful. There are several reasons for this:
Your baby may stop absorbing enough nutrients from breast milk or bottle milk
There is an increased risk of allergies and infections
Your baby’s digestive system may not be developed enough to handle solid food
With this new information, it really wouldn’t have been wise, regardless of other peoples opinions, to introduce solids six months ago.
When it’s time to introduce solids, it’s always best to start with just one food. Rice cereal is a perfect choice when you start weaning babies. There are quite a few on the market, but always look for baby foods that have no added sugar or salt. There are also organic options on the market that are very good. Always remember to start small, using only a few teaspoons, and be sure to mix with breast milk or milk. Start with once a day and slowly increase the portions until your baby eats no more than 2 tablespoons. Make sure the consistency is thin until your baby gets used to feeding on food. Always look for any signs of allergy and check for rashes or loose bowel movements.
Once your baby is comfortable with baby cereal, then it’s time to slowly introduce new foods. Make sure the food is pureed so that it is easy for your baby to swallow. You want to make this a pleasant experience for your baby, and choking and gagging won’t be fun for either of you. Simple vegetables and fruits are always a good second stage food. Wait at least 3 days before introducing any new food as this will give you a chance to see if your baby has any allergic reactions to certain foods.
A good choice for vegetables are pumpkin, potato, sweet potato, carrots, turnips. Most fruits are loved by babies as they are sweet, but start with small portions as fruits can be full of sugar. Banana is always a great fruit to start with as it can be easily mashed as well as pear and apples. A great way to organize your baby’s meals is to cook your vegetables, puree them and then put them in ice packs and put them in the freezer. This way there is always food for your baby and it is much more convenient than having to make a separate meal every night.
Any meat you introduce should be pureed and chicken is always a good introduction to meat in your baby’s diet. Your baby can also be introduced to sugar-free nuts and bread.
Once your baby has a few teeth, the easier it is to introduce less pureed foods. From around 8 months most babies will have some teeth although regardless of how many they should be ready for food that is not pure puree. At this age they love finger food, although bear in mind that this is a very messy stage. It can be very time-consuming for your baby to eat finger foods, but allow it as it helps with hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. Now you can try to introduce fish, pasta, rice and well cooked and minced meat. It is recommended that babies not be introduced to cow’s milk until after 12 months due to the risk of allergies. There are many baby creams on the market that do not have cow’s milk and most babies love the sweet taste. Yogurts made for babies over 6 months are also commercially available and these are an excellent choice for desserts. Mixed with fruit puree it is a wonderful addition to your baby’s diet.
There are certain foods you should avoid when you start weaning babies. These include:
any hard food that can cause choking, such as sultanas, raisins, crunchy vegetables and hard raw fruit
Any known allergy triggers such as egg whites, nuts, shellfish and gluten grains
any processed foods that contain added sugars and high salt content. Canned foods are notorious for added salt, so read labels carefully
Sugar, sugar and sugar. This includes cakes, lollies, juices, soft drinks and chocolates.
What you introduce to your child from an early age will determine his diet for the rest of his life. When weaning babies If you introduce fruits, vegetables and unprocessed foods, you are giving your baby the best possible chance for a healthy life.
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