The world of weaning may feel like a brave new world but, fret not, it’s not actually as daunting as it may seem – and it certainly doesn’t require any braveness!
Though trying to sift through the mounds of (often conflicting) information out there may feel like climbing Everest, it’s nothing to sweat about and thankfully there are ways to support you on your ascent. Enter Annabel Karmel MBE, the UK’s No.1 parenting author has shared her top pearls of wisdom with Gymfinity Kids to help mums conquer the world of weaning.
“Just like many mums, I didn’t quite know where to start when I first began weaning my son. The process felt quite daunting, but I decided to roll up my sleeves and get experimenting in the kitchen.
“All three of my children were incredibly fussy eaters. But ironically, I’m glad they were, as I may not have found a career path that I love and adore to this day. Back then, the only cookbooks I could find contained quite bland recipes, so I started adapting all the healthy foods we ate as a family into things my children could eat. I then started sharing my recipes at my son’s playgroup and they went down a treat. This resulted in me writing my first book in 1991, the Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner.
“It provided parents with a step by step guide through the whole process of weaning and has since become the 2nd best-selling non-fiction hardback of all time. From nutrition during pregnancy and weaning, through to feeding fussy eaters, I’m proud to be the first port of call for mums who want to give their growing family the very best start in life.”
Here are some of my top tips on weaning – good luck!
- Make sure your baby is ready to wean. Pushing a young, reluctant baby will make the start of the weaning process upsetting for you both. The general rule is that babies should be weaned from around six months old.
- Babies sometimes find the weaning process a little clinical and become upset when mealtimes no longer involve the comfort of sucking milk. When offering your baby her very first taste or two you may find it easier to hold her on your lap, as this will help her feel loved and secure.
- When babies feed from the breast or a bottle they instinctively push their tongue forwards. Now your baby needs to learn to keep her tongue at the back of her mouth. If she can’t get on with a spoon, try dipping a clean finger in the puree and let her suck your finger for the first few mouthfuls.
- It’s a good idea to choose a spot where you’ll be regularly feeding your baby, so that she begins to associate it with mealtimes. The kitchen is probably best, as she’s bound to make a considerable mess for the first few months – or even years!
- The first time you feed your baby solids can be a nerve-wracking experience. So find a relaxing, quiet place with no distractions and take it slowly, following your baby’s pace. Every baby is different; some jump at the opportunity of trying new tastes and textures while others may be more reluctant but both of you will soon get the hang of it and enjoy trying new flavours.
- Laugh, smile, sing and taste you baby’s food at mealtimes – she’ll want to join in the fun by copying you and eating it herself.
- Avoid feeding your baby when she’s tired, irritable or very hungry. At these times, she’ll want one thing only – milk.
- Don’t get too hung up about portion sizes or nutrients. If the food is wholesome and fresh and she’s taking a little, you’ve done well.
- Try to compare your baby with others. All babies develop at their own speed and take to different foods at different stages. It is no reflection on their intelligence or abilities.
- First foods should be simple, easy to digest, and unlikely to provoke an allergic reaction. Start with a single ingredient, ideally a fruit or vegetable. Root vegetables like carrots, sweet potato and butternut squash are very popular first foods; they have a naturally sweet flavour and can easily be puréed into a smooth texture. As a tip, try mixing them with a little breast or formula milk to ease the transition.
For lots more fun ideas download Annabel’s Essential Guide to Feeding Your Baby & Toddler app. Access more than 200 delicious recipes, as well as a host of features to keep your family on track and enjoying meal times. Download the new version from the App Store now or visit www.annabelkarmel.com.