The Truth Behind Common Weaning Myths
With the help of UK nutritionist Julia Wolman, Babymoov aim to help parents navigate through the enormous amount of information and advice that is often conflicting, to dispel some common myths associated with weaning.
‘‘BABIES CAN’T EAT LUMPS WITHOUT TEETH’’
They can, their gums are strong enough to deal with lumps!
‘‘BABIES SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH THEIR FOOD’’
They absolutely should and is an important part of how they learn about textures and tastes, #messisbest!
‘‘BABIES SHOULD HAVE A SAVORY FOLLOWED BY SWEET «COURSE» AT LUNCH AND DINNER’’
There is no right or wrong, but they learn from us as parents who decide what order they eat things and then this becomes the normal. Let your baby try different tastes together - my son often had yogurt at the same time as his main course. I remember him dipping his corn on the cob into it quite happily!
‘‘WEANING WILL HELP BABIES SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT’’
A common argument but it won’t, as eating and sleeping are unrelated behaviors.
‘‘YOU SHOULD INTRODUCE A NEW FOOD EVERY 3 DAYS’’
This would take forever especially as babies are weaning later now! Introduce
a new one every day, and mix it with flavors your baby does like.
‘‘IT’S UP TO MOM TO DECIDE HOW MUCH THE BABY SHOULD EAT’’
Wrong! Babies know when they’re hungry or not, we should always respect their appetite and let them tell us when they
‘‘BABIES ARE READY FOR WEANING WHEN THEY CHEW THEIR FISTS’’
Not necessarily, this may be because they’ve just discovered their fists, which usually happens around 4 months.
‘‘COOKING WITH GHEE HAS HEALTH BENEFITS FOR BABIES’’
Ghee is a typically Indian form of clarified butter, but regular butter or vegetable oil is just fine to use.
Weaning Top Tips
Baby led weaning advice from Julia Wolman, UK Registered Nutritionist:
There’s no need to wait 3 days before trying each new food, this is old advice more relevant to past years when babies were being weaned earlier. Introducing a different taste every day is perfect!
Babies don’t need baby rice! Though baby rice can be useful to help soften strong flavors or to thicken up thin purees, there’s no nutritional recommendation for it.
Even if you’re not hungry, or in a rush, always try to sit and eat something with your baby at each meal as they learn from what they see. You don’t have to eat a lot, and it doesn’t have to be the same food - though research shows the same color food as theirs can be helpful!
Try to resist keeping little hands away from the bowl as your baby will love to explore the food through touching and playing with it (as messy as it may be!)
Offer finger foods alongside spoon-fed meals wherever possible, as self-feeding will help develop your baby’s dexterity/ fine motor skills, as well as the muscles they need for chewing.
Get into the habit of checking food labels and ingredients lists - even some baby foods have added sugars.
Low-sugar adult breakfast cereals like Ready Brek and Weetabix are great for introducing texture to babies (from 6 months). Sweeten with fruit puree, mashed banana and berries, or chopped up pieces of fruit.
Get your baby used to the idea of a cup from six months by letting them play with it outside of mealtimes - when it is empty!
If your baby doesn’t want to eat one day think about why this could be - are they teething, tired, poorly, full up from big milk feeds? Always respect your baby’s appetite and don’t push them - they’ll probably be back on their food the following day.
When spoon-feeding your baby, have two spoons to hand - one for baby and one for you. Let them practice feeding themselves, and whilst they are having a go with their spoon be ready to load up the next, then swap!
It's very normal for babies to refuse foods that they have enjoyed eating before. This can be extremely frustrating but whatever you do don’t give up trying - keep on offering refused foods as the repeated exposure will pay off eventually.
Q & A About Weaning
Between 6 UK new mom bloggers and UK Registered Nutritionist, Julia Wolman
‘‘SHOULD I CONTINUE BREASTFEEDING WHEN MY BABY STARTS WEANING?’’
Yes, definitely. Breast milk is especially important alongside solids in early weaning as its protective properties may help to reduce the risk of diarrhea, vomiting or allergic reactions when new foods are introduced. Breastfeeding will continue to protect your baby from infections for as long as you continue feeding them.
‘‘DO I NEED TO GIVE MY BABY VITAMINS?’’
It is a national recommendation that all breastfed babies should be given a vitamin supplement from 6 months. In some cases, a specialist may advise this earlier than 6 months. It should contain vitamins A and D as these nutrients are not too widely available from food. Most baby vitamin preparations will contain these. For babies who are formula fed, or receiving both breast and formula milk, they should have a vitamin supplement if their formula intake is less than 500mls per day.
‘‘WHAT HAPPENS IF MY BABY STOPS WANTING TO FEED?’’
Sometimes babies go through phases of being less interested in their milk. It may be because they’re enjoying solids too much and their tiny tummy is getting full up. If your baby seems less interested in their feeds, try adding more milk to their cereal or other foods such as mashed potato or make sauces for pasta or vegetables (e.g. macaroni or cauliflower cheese). Experiment with your timings as babies won’t take much milk if they’re either too full or too tired. If milk intake falls below 500mls/day then a baby vitamin supplement is recommended.
“HOW WILL MY BABIES SLEEP BE AFFECTED”
Parents sometimes say their baby’s sleeping improves once they have started solids. But there is no real evidence for this. Sleeping and eating should be regarded as entirely separate behaviors. Babies should not be waking, or woken for, night feeds once weaning has been established.
‘‘WON’T GIVING THEM WATER JUST MEAN THEY DON’T WANT MILK?’’
Drinking water should have no impact on a baby’s appetite as it has no calorie value. Most babies probably won’t drink great quantities of water during the early months of weaning. To start with, it is more about getting them used to the taste and to using a cup, rather than quenching thirst as they usually get enough fluid from their food and milk.
‘‘HOW DO I ENSURE THEY EAT ENOUGH?’’
Many parents make the mistake of thinking their baby needs to eat more than they actually do. However babies are very good at self-regulating, meaning that they eat when they are hungry and stop eating when they are full. They are far better at this than older children and grown-ups! It is always a good idea to give babies small amounts to start with, then if they still seem hungry offer more. If you still feel unsure, checking your baby’s weight every few months is a useful way to monitor if they are taking in what they need.
‘‘WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THEIR NAPPIES WHEN I INTRODUCE SOLIDS?’’
There will usually be some changes to baby’s poo when they start solids – it may become runnier, lumpier, smellier or a different color! But these changes are perfectly normal and things should settle down once their digestive system has become more used to food. If you ever feel worried, or find blood in your baby’s nappy, make an appointment to see your general practitioner.