Over the last ten years, infant health and nutrition experts have evolved their best practice feeding advice when it comes to starting your baby on their weaning journey. It can be overwhelming though, especially when family members impart their own ‘facts’ and experience to a new mum. With this in mind, we’re here to set the record straight and help you to raise a healthy happy eater.
Drinking water: Contrary to popular belief, filtered tap water is fine for your baby from 6- months. Once your local county council has approved your tap water as suitable for drinking, then you can offer your little one some regular tap water in a cup at mealtimes.
Dairy: Cow’s milk is not ideal as a drink for your baby before 12-months, however avoiding the introduction of dairy altogether, can increase the risk of a dairy intolerance. You should aim to start including cheeses or yoghurt in meals from 6-months and add cow’s milk to your baby’s cereal.
Allergens: Health experts used to recommend waiting to introduce commonly allergenic foods like eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, and shellfish until after your baby's first birthday. However, following lots of evidence-based research, the new expert advice is now the opposite! It has been proven that introducing these known allergen foods when your baby is between 6 and 8-months old may help prevent food allergies.
Nuts: Providing there is no known history of allergies in your family, offer nut butters from 6-months. Just take care to choose low salt varieties or make your own! And of course, keep an eye out for any possible reactions.
The 3-day rule: New tastes or foods don’t have to follow the ‘3-day rule’. You can offer a new taste or food at each feed if you like. In fact, this will help to add more variety at the early stages, when baby is more accepting of new tastes and textures. If your child has a skin condition or there is a history of allergies in your family, take extra care with foods that may cause a reaction. For example: kiwi fruit, strawberries, eggs, nuts, fish (or shellfish), wheat, dairy and soybeans.
Baby-led or Spoon-fed: You don't have to choose a specific weaning strategy for your little one. The best approach is a little bit of both, offering finger foods to your baby at mealtimes as well as spoon-feeding. This way your child will associate mealtimes with exploring food and feeding themselves, while parents needn’t worry about how much they’re consuming by using a spoon.
Fussy Eater: Usually a child must experience a new flavour up to ten times before you can rule it out as a no-go! Even at that he may like it again in two months because his palate for taste is developing and changing every day. Finger foods are a great way to avoid a fussy eater because it gives baby some control. Sometimes a baby's food refusal might be simply a desire to explore their food and feed themselves.
For those about to embark on their weaning journey, a new starter Weaning Bundle has been launched by Cork mum-run baby retailer BabyBoo.ie with all the essentials, and all Irish brands too! The weaning bundle is priced at €75 from BabyBoo.ie and includes: BabyBoo Feeding Bibs, Cognikids Sip Cups, Accessories4Babies Feeding Plate & Pal, and a Mummycooks Portion Pots Starter Set. The BabyBoo Weaning Bundle is priced at €75 from http://www.babyboo.ie.