One of the top questions everyone is asked about when they become a parent is sleep. As they get a little older, weaning and food also tops the list. I am delighted that Theresa from Your Family Nutritionist has written this fabulous blog for us to help everyone with the weaning journey.
So grab a coffee, have a well deserved sit down (if your little one will let you) and find out more below. Make sure you read to the end as well, as there are some very wise words and something I definitely wish I had read before my weaning journey started with my three rascals.
Theresa’s top tips for weaning
As parents, our instinct is to nourish our children, from the moment we found out we were pregnant, we were suddenly responsible for their growth and development. Weaning is no different. We want to make sure we do this right. We want to make sure they have the best foods and get the best nutrient intake to help them to grow and develop and be as healthy as possible.
I bet you are all thinking, how is it that my baby is ready for solid foods?! Maybe it feels as though you have only just mastered milk feeds and now you have to think about this next milestone. This can certainly feel quite daunting but it really doesn’t have to be. These top tips will hopefully give you the confidence to start introducing solids when the time is right for your baby.
- Try not to read too much! The issue is that the internet contains an abundance of information on the “best” way to wean your baby and the information is not always correct, reliable or even safe. Anyone can claim to be an “expert” in how to feed children and therefore we are constantly exposed to opinions, lack of safe information and ambiguity. So, before you start to wean your baby, get your information from a trusted health professional who has the correct qualifications and knowledge and who is associated with a regulatory body. This will be a registered Nutritionist or a Dietician and not your mother-in-law or neighbour next door who claims to know what is best! Your Family Nutritionist run weaning workshops online and face to face and more information is found here Weaning Workshops
- Get prepared with any equipment you might need. These are the things we used ourselves when we weaned our own babies:-
- If you are going to go down the puree route, invest in a good blender. Something like the Nutribullet is a good investment. You can then use this for all sorts of other things such as homemade pesto.
- Get some bibs which cover your baby as much as possible, especially their arms! We love the Bibetta ones as they wipe clean so easily!
- Cover the area under your highchair with a mess mat which means if this is clean, anything which falls onto it, can be popped straight back onto your baby’s highchair tray or the table. We love the glitter ones available here Glitter Mess Mats
- Choose a sippy cup which is either open or doesn’t have a valve which essentially makes it a “non-drip” cup. It is advisable that babies don’t have to suck really hard to get water out of their cup as this puts pressure on the gums, teeth and jaw, the non-drip ones make getting water out very tricky! Choose something like a Tommee Tippee sippy cup, an open cup like the Doidy cup or the Babycups or try the Munchkin 360 range of cups
- Choose spoons with a soft tip and not too short a handle.
- Stock up on essentials for your store cupboard, these are foods which will enable you to make a whole range of foods which are nutritious and healthy. Check out my blog on essentials here
- Choose a highchair which has a foot rest. It really does help your baby to sit up safely and helps them to enjoy the eating experience without trying to keep themselves from sliding around! If they are slightly wobbly still, then it is fine to prop them up with cushions or highchair inserts. Giving them a foot rest helps to keep their core muscles strong and supportive. We love a Stokke Tripp Trapp at Your Family Nutritionist! If you don’t have a highchair with a foot rest, you can always put a box under their feet to give them that surface area to rest their feet on.
- Buy a few soft flannels to wipe their faces. Weaning is messy! And if you are wiping their faces constantly with wet wipes, this will start to possibly irritate their sensitive skin. So after a lovely messy meal is over, just use a soft flannel with warm water to clean those gorgeous cheeks!
- Don’t worry about portion sizes! There are no published guidelines on portion sizes anywhere and this is because all babies are different. Like adults, we don’t sit down at the same time every day and eat the same amount of food – not will our little ones. Just like us, babies have differing energy needs, appetite, and metabolisms and so all these things impact how much they eat at that meal on that day.
- Batch cook if you are puree feeding and store in ice-cream trays. Freeze leftovers where possible and label well!
- Bake things like muffins, savoury flapjacks, pancakes and porridge fingers and freeze on a tray separately. Once frozen, remove from the tray and put back into the freezer in sealed sandwich bags. You can then remove one at a time and these can form the basis of any meal or snack.
- Buy very low salt stock cubes and unsalted butter. By making these 2 simple changes, you can really help reduce the salt content of your baby’s diet. Replace any normal stock cubes and salted butter that you currently use for these options and this is a very quick and easy swap to help keep salt levels down.
- Get a dog! They save a lot of cleaning up!!
Enjoy it! Welcome the mess! And do it at you baby’s pace, there is no rush and no judgement – it is your own weaning adventure and your own journey.
A bit about Theresa
I’m Theresa, a registered Nutritionist and mummy to two little people – Jack and Francesca.
I studied nutrition for four years at university after which I held various roles within the area of nutrition. I worked as an Assistant Nutritionist for the supermarket chain ASDA, I worked as a Marketing Manager for the company Pret a Manger, I worked as part of the National Support Teams at the Department of Health and I then spent 4 years at the charity Mencap where I set up a healthy eating programme for people with a learning disability.
When my son came along, I found the weaning process quite confusing – and I work in the field of nutrition! There were and are, so many conflicting pieces of information available for parents around the area of introducing solid foods. Whether it be via the internet, social media or even well-meaning people advising you on how to feed your child.
I realised that if I was confused as a health professional, then I assumed most other parents would be too. And so, after speaking to friends about weaning, I realised that I was correct.
In 2014, I set up the award-winning company Happy Tums with another nutritionist where our aim was to focus our attention on equipping parents with the scientific, evidence-based facts around how to wean your baby and support them to do this. We wanted to hold their hand through their weaning journey to give them somewhere to go to find the confidence to start the process of complimentary feeding.
8 years later and after helping 1000’s of parents, I decided it was my time to go at it alone. And so here I am! Your Family Nutritionist is the “one stop shop” for support around weaning, fussy eating and family nutrition!
I believe whole-heartedly that it is never too early to teach our little ones about healthy eating and that mealtimes should be all about sharing, laughter, fun and love. I am happiest surrounded by people I loves, sharing great food together and of course, having the odd glass of wine (0r 3!)
To book a weaning or a fussy eating workshop, or a 30 minute consultation to discuss your family nutrition, click here https://yourfamilynutritionist.co.uk.
Often, parents feel that once they have mastered weaning their babies will sleep more soundly. Often, unfortunately it isn’t the case. For more information on how you can support your little ones sleep get in touch.