What are the signs that my baby is ready to wean?
Every baby is individual, but there are three clear signs which together show your baby is ready for solid food alongside breast milk or infant formula.
1. Baby can stay in a sitting position and hold his or her head steady.
2. Baby can co-ordinate his/her eyes, hands and mouth so that they can look at food, pick it up and place it in their mouth.
3. Baby can swallow food. Babies who are not ready will push their food back out.
What age does this usually happen?
Most research shows that babies need only breast milk or infant formula for the first six months of life. This gives a baby’s digestive system time to develop so that they cope fully with solid foods.
What are my choices for feeding?
You can choose to feed your baby with pureed foods, baby-led weaning, or a combination of the two.
1. Puree feeding
This is the more traditional form of feeding, where baby is fed pureed or mashed foods. You start with fruits, vegetables, and baby cereal and move on to a wider variety of foods, such as meats, pasta and yogurts.
How should I start?
Start with one food at a time and in small amounts. The food needs to be steamed or cooked and the temperature tested to ensure it is safe to give to your baby. Gradually you will be able to increase the amount and variety of food your baby eats until they can eventually eat the same as the rest of the family, in smaller portions.
Is it okay to buy ready-made puree?
Homemade food is best as it made from simple ingredients with no hidden or added sugar or salt. It is also more cost effective if you make up batches and freeze in portions. If you do need the odd shop-bought puree, buy organic and make sure it has no added sugar. I find www.annabelkarmel.com very useful.
2. Baby led weaning
Baby Led Weaning is all about letting baby explore food and taste for themselves. The principle of baby led weaning is that babies determine how much they take and figure out different foods independently. It can be messy, but a lot of fun!
How do I start?
Start with large pieces of steamed vegetables such as carrot, graspable pieces of fruit such as mango, or toast fingers. As your baby progresses, you can move onto foods like hummus, broccoli, beans, peas, corn and rice. The idea is that your baby will eat what your family is eating, without any added sugar or salt.
How can I get over the worry of choking?
Always stay with your baby when they are eating. I also recommend that all parents, regardless of feeding method, enroll in a First Aid Course, which will equip you with skills just in case and give you confidence.
Where can I get more information on weaning?
Try www.babyledweaning.com for features, a blog and recipes.
The Midwives at Health Bay offer a Well Baby Clinic where introducing solids can be discussed. Call 04 348 7140 or email midwives@healthbayclinic for appointments.
Soft Tip Spoons, Dhs17, Munchkin at Baby Shop
Feeder Bib, Dhs49, Avent at Baby Shop
Food Warmer, Dhs110, Zoli at Baby Souk
Steam and Blend Puree Maker, Dhs629, Philips Avent at Mumz World
Freezer Storage Pots, Dhs45, Clevamama at Mumz World
High chair, Dhs54 (tray Dhs15), IKEA
Baby Shop, various locations including Mall of the Emirates www.babyshopstores.com (04 341 0604). Baby Souk www.babysouk.com. IKEA, Dubai Festival City www.ikea.com (04 203 7555). Mumz World, www.mumzworld.com