Five step weaning guide

Recently, I’ve had a few emails asking about weaning and building up your child’s appetite to three main meals a day. When we first started weaning Lily, I was sort of walking around in the dark. I had no idea what I was meant to be doing, what was okay for her to eat or even how much she should be eating.

While researching what to do and make for her, I came across a webpage where I could send off for a weaning guide from Cow & Gate, more known as formula brand. Their five step weaning plan helped a lot and here is what they suggest.
Cow & Gate's five step weaning guide helped us with the weaning process.
Cow & Gate’s five step weaning guide helped us with the weaning process.

Step One: First spoonfuls

The first step is all about your baby learning how to eat. Eating is different to drinking and require the use of different muscles on your mouth, some of which your baby hasn’t learnt to control yet. Teach them to eat from a spoon and swallow is the main goal. Some babies learn this skill where as others will take a while, so just stick with it and be prepared for your baby to spit it out over you! The first stage involves using puree recipes so that the food is smooth, making it easier for you baby to swallow. To puree the food, just put it into a blender for 5 minuets. Some of the suggested foods for this stage of weaning include baby rice, apple, carrot, sweet potato and avocado. Avocado was a huge hit with Lily and it’s still one go her favourites, especially when she’s ill or in hot weather.

There are some key Do and Don’t points such as:

Do give you baby encouragement. Smile at them and praise them
Do keep going. Weaning is a long process and requires a lot of patience.
Do give you baby something to drink. Some water in a small beaker will be fine.

Don’t add sugar or salt to your baby’s food.
Don’t introduce solid food when your child is very tired or very hungry as they’ll probably refuse it.
Don’t overfeed your baby. Babies are really good and letting you know when their full!

Step Two: Introducing breakfast

Step two is all about adding the most important meal of the day into your baby’s routine. Babies are normally really happy and awake after their morning milk and this is a great opportunity to try breakfast. When weaning Lily, I found the key to introducing breakfast was to not over fill her with milk before hand. So I would give her half of her morning milk and leave her for 5 minuets while I made her breakfast, give her the food, leave her to settle again, and then finish the milk. It took some time, but she was always really happy afterwards and also started to nap longer in the morning (which is always an added bonus). Breakfast was also the only meal of the day that I didn’t make from scratch. Baby porridge lasts a while as you only need a little, especially at this stage, so it won’t dent your budget too much. It’s also really easy to add flavour to by adding fruit puree. With this stage, it’s important that you remember that you baby still needs around 500-600ml of milk everyday. This includes any milk they may have with their breakfast.

Step Three: Introducing a variety

Once you baby has learnt how to swallow and eat properly, you can start to add a bit more variety to the meals. By adding different ingredients to the recipes, the texture and take of the puree will change, giving you baby’s taste buds a nice surprise! It will also get them into the motion of chewing, ready for when their meals become more solid. This stage is a great opportunity to really mix the flavours up with food such as tomato, mango and swede on the list of recommendations. At this stage, you can use either fresh or frozen veg, they are both just as good. You can also make up portions to put in the fridge and freezer so that you can take them with you on your travels or just to minimise the daily cooking.

Step Four: Meat, fish & alternatives

The main goal at this stage is to get your baby used to the tastes of meat and fish, which will also bring more nutritional value to their meals. Red meat is always a great addition to you baby’s meals as it is a rich source of iron where as meat and fish are both great sources of protein. Each of these will help you child develop and grow. Try introducing meat and fish to your child’s meal by combining it with vegetables you know they already love.  Try not to give them  big portions though, as chewing is a new skill and can be tough, especially with meat.

You must remember though to not give your child any form of selfish before they are 6 months old and especially raw selfish before 12 months old. Also, make sure you have bought boneless fish or have checked that there are no bones in your child’s portion. They could cause you child to choke.

Step Five: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

The last step in the Cow & Gate weaning guide is to establish the three main meals in your baby’s routine. With this step, I repeated how I established breakfast into Lily’s routine (see step two) and it worked really well for us. I think with this stage, consistency is key. Try and keep the mealtimes the same when ever you can. That way, your baby will know when to expect a meal and you know when you’ll baby will be hungry.

You can find the complete Cow & Gate weaning guide on their website!

Until next time…

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