However, milk must remain the basis of your child’s diet.
Questions asked by mums
Milk remains baby’s main food.
At this age they still need 5 or 6 feeds per day (around 700ml of milk) to meet their growth needs.
Talk to your doctor about this! If you can’t or don’t want to continue breastfeeding, they will help you choose a follow-on milk formula.
Weaning marks the progression from breastfeeding to another form of feeding. It is an important milestone for both baby and mum: it is up to you and you alone to decide that the moment has come.
Choose the right time
Weaning must take place under the right circumstances:
the time is not right when the weather is very hot, when baby is teething, or when they are suffering from gastric discomfort or a childhood illness.
It must be done in a gentle and gradual manner to reduce the likelihood of digestive or emotional upset.
Baby is over six months old
This is a period when baby is easier to wean, being less firmly attached to mum, and more curious about the surrounding environment. Food diversification can begin, and baby takes the breast mainly in the morning and evening. Complement this with a bottle of infant milk suited to the child’s age until breastfeeding has been entirely replaced.
Preparing a baby bottle
Your doctor will be able to advise you about which infant milk suits your baby.
Remember to carefully check that the expiry date has not passed. Follow the instructions given on the packaging for preparing the bottle.
As regards water, it is possible to use:
- tap water, provided you take the following precautions:
- ask your local council about the quality of the water
- only use cold water, and let it run for 1 to 2 minutes if you have not used the tap recently,
- use non-softened, non-filtered water,
- ensure the tap is in good condition; if the tap is fitted with an aerator, de-scale it regularly.
- bottled water suitable for infants (check the label), if opened less than 24 hours previously.
The baby bottle can be given at room temperature, warmed in hot water or in a baby-bottle heater, or placed in the microwave. Always ensure that it is not too hot.
Give it with the same care and attention as you would when breastfeeding your child.
Source: SFAE – Practical advice
Dietary diversification will enable them to gradually progress from the diet of a young child to that of a grown-up; this is a vital stage for their growth, independence and future dietary balance.
New foods are to be introduced gradually. This begins at around six months. Your doctor will advise you about the different foods to introduce.
Baby will progress from several feeds per day to four meals, a pattern they will retain until adolescence.
A smooth transition to using a little spoon and eating solids will ensure a happy and satisfied eater at the table: this is the key to good dietary balance and good health.
They are ready to start chewing and to learn how to use a spoon, plate and beaker. Meals may take quite a long time as they confront and adapt to all these novelties.
For an initial period, and on the advice of your doctor, in addition to milk you might begin by offering baby some fruit and vegetables cooked into a smooth purée or compote form, with cereals added into the baby bottle.
It is preferable to introduce just one new taste at a time and to avoid mixtures at the beginning.
What foods are good for diversification?
> Vegetables, preferably low in fibre, as they are easier to digest: pumpkin, green beans, de-seeded and peeled courgettes, carrots, etc.
You will need to blend them to obtain a smooth consistency and if necessary thicken them with a little potato.
> Fruit: Fruit must be cooked and blended into compote form. There is no need to add sugar.
Useful info: fruit and vegetables contain high levels of many different micronutrients which are good for health, like vitamins, fibres and minerals.
> Infant cereals:As well as providing additional energy during the growth phase, these will help to introduce new flavours. They are also a good extra source of the vitamins and minerals which baby needs.
> Meat, fish, eggs and even offal: around 10g per day, which corresponds to 2 level teaspoons or one quarter of a hard-boiled egg.
– Blend them, so that the texture is easy for baby to chew.
– Avoid cold meats, which are fatty and very salty.
Useful info: meat, fish, eggs and offal provide proteins which are essential to the construction and functioning of baby’s system.
> Water: During and between meals, and without adding any sugar.