INTRODUCTION TO BABY WEANING
Have you ever wondered what comes next for your baby after being fed purely liquids? Weaning is the process of introducing your infant to the various tastes and textures found in solid foods. The weaning journey consists of three stages, all of which are important in shaping your baby's future relationship with food. The initial stage involves experimenting with a few solid foods, followed by being exposed to more textures and flavours, and lastly being introduced to a wider variety of solid foods.
Weaning can be a daunting journey for both you and your baby, with numerous factors to consider, such as determining when your baby is ready for weaning. As each baby is unique, it is crucial to check for the tell-tale signs that your baby is ready to consume solid foods. Being able to sit and hold their hand steady, synchronising their eyes, hands, and mouth to put food in their mouths, and swallowing food instead of spitting it out are signs that they are ready for solids.
Above all, as weaning is a long-term process, it is important to set expectations and remain patient. For example, recognising that more time is needed for feeding in the early stages when your baby is less comfortable with solid foods can make the journey easier. Expectations of messiness during feeding times can also lessen distress.
WHAT IS TRADITIONAL WEANING?
Traditional baby weaning involves introducing food in the puree form to your baby before progressing with textures over time. When food is pureed, your baby is usually fed with a spoon. The process is a lengthy one that has three phases, with Stage 1 beginning from six months, Stage 2 beginning from seven months, and Stage 3 beginning from nine to twelve months. Weaning often starts with smooth purees, progressing to mashed and diced foods, and finally little nibbles. Pureed vegetables and fruits, well-cooked deboned meat, and cereals such as baby rice are good choices for the first stage of weaning. The second stage includes the same foods as the first but now includes bread, eggs, pasta, cheese, rice, cereal, and yogurt. In the final stage, your baby can sample foods that are lumpy and chopped in bigger pieces.
Baby cereal is an ideal first food in the initial stage as it can be paired with different food ingredients to provide variety. Do remember to introduce one new food at a time to monitor for allergic reactions before pairing food. Here are some easy and delicious food pairing suggestions for your little one to savour: cereal and apple puree, cereal and butternut squash puree, cereal and sweet potatoes puree, and more.
Pureed foods can be prepared in batches and frozen ahead of time, saving time and effort. In this case, the Hegen PCTO™ 60ml/ 2oz Breast Milk Storage Container PPSU is perfect for portioning and storing purees. All you have to do is to cook a batch for a week, portion it out, freeze it, then thaw and heat up each portion as needed.
Traditional weaning has several advantages, including being in charge and aware of what and how much your baby ate, less messiness during mealtime, and lowered risk of your baby gagging and choking. On the other hand, there are a few drawbacks, such as the danger of overfeeding your baby and providing insufficient sensory play for your baby.
WHAT IS BABY-LED WEANING?
Baby-led weaning refers to letting your baby self-feed solid foods right from the outset at about six months old. The method is simpler than traditional weaning, with the key principle being that you should follow your baby's lead. To prevent choking, meals of varying softness and size should still be introduced at various stages. Food introduced at around 6 months old, for example, should be soft and easy for your baby to grab and consume. At 9 months old, the food can be cut into smaller bite-sized pieces for your baby to practice his or her pincer grasp. When your baby is 12 months old, he or she can practice grabbing larger food bits with utensils.
In terms of what foods can be prepared for your baby, visit this website for information on how to prepare various types of foods at different stages of development. Avocado, yogurt, eggs, carrots, tofu, meat, fish, and sweet potatoes are some foods that your baby can consume independently. These nutritious foods are often simple to chew and swallow, as well as easy to prepare. This can save you time on preparations while reducing the risk of your baby choking or developing serious illnesses.
Baby-led weaning has numerous benefits, including training your baby to self-feed and fine-tuning motor development. This encourages the development of hand-eye coordination, chewing abilities, dexterity, and healthy feeding habits while also allowing your baby to explore the taste, texture, scent, and colours of various foods. However, baby-led weaning might be detrimental due to the increased risk of choking and the increased possibility of messiness.
To reduce the risk of choking, ensure your baby is always supervised, seated upright, and well-supported during eating. Distractions should also be avoided, such as eating near a television or iPad. To keep things as tidy as possible, invest in a few full-coverage bibs and an easy-to-clean high chair.
IMPORTANCE OF HYDRATION IN BOTH TRADITIONAL WEANING AND BABY-LED WEANING
Above all, remember to stay hydrated! As your baby begins to consume solids, begin adding water to supplement your baby’s diet. Breast milk or alternatives should still be your baby’s primary source of nutrition before the age of 12 months. Cow milk should not be introduced before your baby is one year old.
At 9 months old, your baby can be introduced to the Hegen PCTO™ Straw Cup PPSU at 9 months old to learn straw sucking, and at 12 months old, the Hegen PCTO™ All Rounder Cup PPSU will be a useful tool to assist in the transition to open-cup drinking. To learn more about the distinction between these two products, find out more on our website at www.hegen.com. You can also find out how you can make your own Creamy Chia Seed Pudding with Little Blossom and Hegen here.