The 6-month mark is an exciting time for both baby and parents alike. Not only is your little one starting to hit those all-important milestones, but they’re also getting ready to explore the sights, smells and taste of food for the first time!
When it comes to weaning, there are typically two approaches; spoon-fed and baby-led. Traditionally, babies are spoon-fed pureed fruits and vegetables. However new theories now suggest that baby-led weaning can be beneficial for the development of healthy eating habits – plus there’s no fuss batch cooking pureed carrots beforehand! If you think your little one is ready to start with finger foods, here’s a few tips and tricks to help:
- Make sure they’re ready
This seems like an obvious one, but there’s a few signs that you can look out for. Your little one should be able to hold their neck up firmly, sit in their highchair unaided and have strong chewing movements in their jaw. If they’re spitting food out instead of putting it to the back of their mouth, then they may not be ready yet. Don’t worry if they’re not, some babies won’t develop this chewing reflex until around 9 months and will prefer being spoon-fed for the time being.
- Eat meals as a family
It’s great practice to have your baby see everyone eating their meals together. This way, they’re more likely to watch you hold a fork and guide food to your mouth and do it themselves. It also helps them to recognise that the food on their plate is to be eaten when they see you doing it.
- Learn to love the mess
No one said BLW would be easy or mess-free, but you can limit this as much as possible. Using a bin bag or plastic cover under their highchair will catch the mess and make cleaning up a lot easier. Also consider an all in one bib or gown, as this will cover their clothes and reduce the need to change them afterwards. The best way for your baby to get to know new foods is by squishing them between their fingers. They’re learning new textures and sensations, so try to roll with it as much as you can.
- Start with soft, easy to manage foods
Start with foods such as soft boiled eggs, boiled veggies, bananas etc so that your little one can pick these up and smush them around in their mouth with ease. Temperature is a big thing here, so try to make sure they’re either lukewarm or cold so that it doesn’t burn their mouths.
- Milk is still best (breastmilk or formula)
Up until your little one is 12 months, milk will still be the main source of nutrients for a healthy baby. It’s all personal preference, but offering half of their milk before mealtimes will ensure that they get these nutrients, and will also ensure that they are not too hungry beforehand. Thus making them more likely to explore the food in front of them.
- Choose the best time to start
Lunch is a great time to start with BLW, as little one is likely to be in a good mood and not too tired. Offering new foods to a cranky baby will result in your floor seeing more of the food than they do, so try to find a time that fits best for everyone.
These are just a selection of tips to help you get started on your weaning journey, but why not let us know if you have any of your own to share over on Instagram!