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Top Tips for Weaning

With your baby ready to start their weaning journey, Dualit looks at the best ways to introduce new, exciting and healthy foods to your little one, whilst ensuring that all their dietary needs are met. We'll be discussing how to identify the signs that your baby may be ready to begin weaning, how to prepare their meals, the best foods to include in their diet and a few foods to avoid. Remember, every baby is uniquely individual and may reach milestones at different times. Remain patient and, instead, enjoy the start of what can become a healthy, happy relationship with food.

Top Tips for Weaning

Where to Start

Most babies begin weaning at 6 months; however, some may start this process a little earlier or later depending on their personal journey. The best thing to do is look out for signs that they are ready to begin. For example, does your baby show an interest in your food - do they reach out or try to eat it? Can they sit themselves up unaided and hold their head steady? Do they seem dissatisfied with their usual milk or perhaps they are more hungry than usual? Does your baby have good hand-eye coordination and often put their hands or toys in their mouth? These are all signs that may be helpful when making the decision as to whether now is the time to start trying foods alongside their usual milk. 

Foods to Try First

When first starting your baby onto solid foods, it is best to begin with vegetables instead of fruits. This is because the fruit is naturally sweet and therefore is a preferred taste for babies after months of only drinking sweeter breast and/or formula milk. Although your baby may eat and enjoy fruits, you may want to ensure that they enjoy more savoury flavours first, before introducing tastier foods later down the line once the weaning journey is established. This can help keep the fussy eating at bay and ensures your baby continues to eat vegetables as they get older.

 

Single ingredient purées are also a great way to begin as it gives your baby the option to try different foods individually, helping you to identify their favourites as well as highlighting any allergies. Then, once you and baby are ready, you can use herbs and spices to slowly introduce new flavours and textures. Again, keeping your little one's meals varied and exciting can reduce the likelihood of being a picky eater in the future, as well as encouraging them to be more adventurous.

 

If you are worried about your child being allergic to certain foods, the following ingredients are thought to be low allergen foods, so are good to try early on to put your nerves at ease: asparagus, carrots, sweet potato, apples, bananas, pears, rice, chicken and lamb.

 

Benefits of Cooking At Home

Cooking your baby's meals yourself is a great way to ensure you keep all the important nutrients and vitamins intact. The Dualit Baby Food Maker is the perfect tool for this as it simplifies the entire cooking and preparation process - it steams the fruit or vegetables first before blending baby's food to the perfect consistency for whichever stage of the weaning journey they are at. Steaming food, as opposed to boiling it, ensures there is no loss of those key nutrients as they are retained in the water which you can keep to help make the purée.

 

Alternatively, in the event that you need to loosen your purée, try adding a splash of your baby's usual milk - whether this be breast milk or formula - to add further nutrients.

Another benefit of homemade food is that you know exactly what is in the food you're serving your little one. You have complete control over what your child is offered and thus remove the risk that there are any unnatural preservatives or additives hiding amongst an extensive ingredients list (for this reason, it is also best to buy organic produce where possible). It can also help to keep their meals allergen free if you have identified any specific foods that may be problematic.

 

Watching you prepare food can also be a positive experience for your baby - it can encourage them to be more involved in the process and increases excitement over the opportunity to eat with you as they get older.

 

Plus, if you control the portion size then there is little to no waste as any leftovers can simply be frozen in small portions ready for another day!

Where to Get Nutrients

To get a healthy balanced diet from the beginning of your little one's journey with food, you should try to ensure that all key nutrients and vitamins are included within their diet. Previously, these would have been obtained from either their breast milk or formula, but this will need to be continued throughout the weaning process.

 

Full fat dairy products such as cow's milk, cheese and plain yoghurts are great options in meals as these are rich in calcium to strengthen your baby's teeth and bones. Though it is not recommended to give cow's milk as a drink until your baby is 1 year old, this can be added to vegetable purées or fruit smoothies for a looser consistency. Dairy is also a good source of iodine, required for essential thyroid hormones. These hormones control the body's metabolism and many other important functions, including proper bone and brain development during infancy.

 

Iodine can also be found in white fish, along with omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for a healthy heart. If your little one follows a vegetarian or vegan diet, some alternative sources of omega-3 include: eggs, walnuts, chia seeds and soya beans. It is important that they absorb as much goodness as they can at an early age.

Proteins such as red meats, lentils and beans are high in iron, an essential mineral for making red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body - other sources of iron include fortified cereals and dark green vegetables like broccoli and green beans. Fattier protein sources such as egg yolks and oily fish contain high quantities of Vitamin D.

 

For a healthy gut and good digestion, ensure your baby gets a good amount of fibre in their diet. Encourage your little one to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as starchier complex carbohydrates such as wholegrain pasta, wholemeal bread and brown rice

 

Fruits and vegetables are also great sources for a plethora of vitamins and minerals - Vitamin C is found in oranges, berries, broccoli and potatoes. You could also try adding freshly squeezed orange juice instead of water or milk when blending foods. Mango, apricots, red peppers, sweet potatoes, spinach, eggs and dairy are also all rich in Vitamin A.

 

Vitamins can be provided through supplements; however, we would recommend checking first with the NHS guidelines or a pharmacist before doing so for the latest advice.

Foods to Avoid

There are a few foods that Dualit recommend you avoid giving to smaller babies and other foods that you may prefer to introduce to them a little later on.

 

There is no need to add salt or refined sugars to any of your little one's meals - they don't need it. Fruits contain naturally occurring sugars and, should you wish to sweeten a more savoury dish, you could add fruit puree as an alternative to more overt sugary sweeteners (check out our recipe for Apple Puree)!

 

Honey is another ingredient that should not be added to your baby's meals and this is not only due to its sugar content. Honey contains a bacterium which can cause illness in infants and it is therefore best to avoid using it. Unpasteurised or mould-ripened cheeses can also contain potentially harmful bacteria, whilst raw or lightly-cooked eggs that do not have the red lion stamp should not be eaten as these eggs may not have been vaccinated against salmonella and could cause food poisoning.

Another thing of which you should be mindful is the size of food or snacks that you offer your baby. Nuts and grapes are nutritious and delicious; however, they should not be given whole as the could be considered a choking hazard. Nuts need to be crushed or ground and grapes should be cut length ways in half so that they are easy to swallow and not too large for the child's throat.

 

Remember, it is also important to stay with your child while they are eating. Do not leave them unattended to avoid any further risks.

Preparation and Freezing

When preparing food for your baby, remember to always wash any fruit and vegetables first. Then, where necessary, peel them, remove stalks or leaves, cores, pips and stones. This not only ensures that there are no choking hazards in the food given to your little one, but also gives the food a smoother, more enjoyable texture.

 

Purées can be frozen as portions in ice cube trays. This is a great way to save you time on another day, limit your food waste and mix up flavours by adding these portions to other dishes.

 

To save space in your freezer, you can take the portions out of the ice cube tray once frozen and transfer them to a freezer bag.

 

Defrost your portions by using the Dualit Baby Single Bottle Warmer or Double Bottle Warmer. This multi-functioning product can be used not only to warm your baby's milk bottles but to also warm up food, and has a smart defrost button for milk and food alike.

Dualit's Baby Range

Dualit have launched an extensive range of baby products to help with bottle feeding and beyond.

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