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It can be very confusing for parents when it comes to weaning babies from solid foods. Before 2003 parents were advised to wean at four months. This has now changed six months after an international study showed that it can be very dangerous to wean before six months. There are several reasons for this:
Your baby may stop getting enough nutrients from breast or bottle milk
There is an increased risk of miscarriage and infection
Your baby’s digestive systems may not be strong enough to handle solid foods
With this new information it would be foolish, regardless of people’s opinions, to introduce solids before six months.
When it’s time to introduce solids it’s always best to start with just one food. Baby rice cereal is the best choice for weaning babies. There are few on the market but always look for baby food that does not contain sugar or salt. There are also natural options on the market that are very good. Always remember to start small, using only a few spoonfuls, and make sure you mix in breast or formula milk. Start once a day and slowly increase the servings until your child eats a maximum of 2 tablespoons. Make sure the changes are small until your baby gets used to feeding. Always watch for any signs of allergies and watch for a rash or bowel movements.
Once your baby tolerates baby cereal easily then it’s time to introduce new foods slowly. Make sure the food is clean so it is easy for your baby to swallow. You want to make this fun for your baby and the scratching and crawling won’t be fun for either of you. Vegetables and light fruits are always good for the second phase of the diet. Wait at least 3 days before introducing each new food as this will give you a chance to see if your baby may be allergic to certain foods.
Good choices of vegetables are pumpkin, potatoes, sweet potato, carrots, turnips. Most kids love fruits as they are sweet but start with eating less as fruit can be full of sugar. Bananas are always a good fruit to start with as they are easy to juice along with pears and apples. The best way to prepare your baby’s food is to cook your vegetables, puree them and put them in ice cube trays and put them in the freezer. This way there is always food for your child and it is easier than making a different meal every night.
Any meat you introduce will need to be cleaned and chicken is always a good introduction to meat in your child’s diet. Your baby can be introduced to sugar-free rusks and bread.
When your baby is teething it is easier to introduce pureed, unprocessed foods. From around 8 months most babies will have some teeth however many should be ready for solid food. At this age they love finger food even if you remember this worst stage. It can be time consuming for your child to eat finger foods but allow this as it helps with hand eye coordination and fine motor skills. Now you can look at introducing fish, pasta, rice and well-cooked and minced meat. It is recommended that babies not be introduced to cow’s milk until after twelve months due to the risk of allergies. There are many baby custards on the market that do not contain cow’s milk and most children love the sweet taste. There are also yogurts on the market made for babies over 6 months and these are a great choice for deserts. When mixed with pureed fruit they are a wonderful addition to your child’s diet.
There are certain foods that should be avoided when first weaning babies. These include:
Any hard foods that can cause tearing such as sultanas, raisins, raw vegetables and raw hard fruits
Any known allergens such as egg whites, nuts, shellfish and gluten grains
any processed foods that contain added sugars and high salt content. Canned foods are known to have added salt so read labels carefully
Sugar, sugar and sugars. This includes cakes, lollies, juices, soft drinks and chocolates.
What you introduce to your child from an early age will determine his diet for the rest of his life. Weaning If you introduce fruits, vegetables and whole foods, you are giving your baby the best chance for a healthy life.
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