6 Essential things all mums should know before starting weaning

6 Essential things all mums should know before starting weaning

All the info you need about making the transition from formula milk to solid foods with fresh milk in one easy-to-read article.

Mums, has your previously docile little bub started launching her arms towards you like an adorable, curious rocket when you and your hubby are sitting down to dinner? They might just have starting weaning on their mind.

It sounds like your little one has taken a keen interest in what mum and dad are eating. They are sending you the signal that formula milk or breast milk just isn’t going to cut it anymore!

Even with your little one showing this new-found curiosity, the next year of your life is going to be an exhilarating, frustrating and very, very messy adventure as you transition from formula milk or breast milk to solid foods supplemented with fresh milk!

1. First things first, starting weaning has signs, symptoms and a perfect timing! 

starting weaning 1

Weaning is the gradual transition of introducing solids into your little one’s diet at around 6 months. To be clear, when we say solids, we mean any food that is not milk. Introduction to fresh milk or UHT milk should be done after your child turns one.

Most experts say that the best time to start introducing solids to your baby is between four and seven months.

Your little bub trying to grab food off your plate is just one sign that she is ready for solids. Before starting weaning your little one, she should be able to sit up without assistance, have lost the tongue thrust reflex (when babies stick out their tongue to help them suck on a bottle or nipple)(1) and be able to hold onto foods on her own.

Can you check off those four things? Sounds like you and your little one are ready to get started on this exciting journey from formula milk to fresh milk!

Starting weaning can be done in two ways. Either through baby-led weaning, where the baby self-feeds or traditional weaning where babies are spoon-fed starting with purees.

2. What do you feed your little one when they’re ready?

After reading 1001 blogs about starting weaning, finding the right answer to this question can be very challenging. Ultimately, you should speak to your baby’s physician to decide what is best for your baby. Here’s what you need to know to get started!

When planning your shopping lists, focus on getting your bub foods that are rich in iron to replace her decreased iron stores. Your little one’s new diet should also include foods packed with Vitamin C  to help your baby’s body fully absorb iron.

For iron and protein-rich foods, give your little one dark green vegetables. This includes spinach and broccoli, as well as meat, egg yolks, lentils and iron-fortified rice cereals. That may not sound like a very diverse diet, but there are many other delicious and affordable foods that babies like to eat!

Try out different fruit like bananas, apples, and beets. Among veggies, a favourite with babies is sweet potatoes. They also like green beans, zucchini and carrots. You’ll often find these fruits and veggies quite affordably available at your neighbourhood wet market.

3. Food to avoid during the weaning period

starting weaning 2

During the weaning period, it is advised to avoid honey, nuts and grapes. Honey can contain potentially harmful botulism spores and should be avoided for the first few years. 

Don’t give your little one nuts, grapes and any other hard or round fruit which can present a significant choking hazard. However, nuts are high in nutrition so introduce them as a fine powder. Just make sure to introduce them one at a time and watch for allergic reactions.

4. Offer your child a variety of choices

Introducing a variety of foods from a young age helps to cultivate healthy eating habits and prevent picky eaters. So, don’t let your little one get away with only eating their favourite food!

That said, it is important to introduce new foods one at a time so you can monitor for allergic reactions or digestion issues.

5. Supplementing solids with milk

starting weaning

During the first six months of weaning,  you need to supplement your baby’s diet of solids with either breastmilk or formula milk. When preparing their meals, keep in mind the proportion of milk versus solid foods that they’re eating.

While there is no fixed rules on the proportions, the amount of solids versus milk should increase as the child grows older and her digestive system develops. As a general rule, children from 6-12 months can consume 500-750ml of milk daily.

6. Transitioning from formula milk to fresh or UHT milk

Cow's milk is discouraged before 12 months of age because it’s harder to digest and may cause stress to your baby’s immature kidneys.

It also doesn’t have all the necessary nutrients like iron and vitamin C, which can lead to iron deficiencies in your child(2). But as soon as your little one turns 12 months old and he is having a well-balanced diet, you can start giving them cow’s milk.

Transitioning from formula milk to fresh or UHT milk is similar to weaning, but it needs to be done gradually.

Please keep the following in mind when transitioning from formula milk to fresh milk.

  • It will take some time for your little one to adopt to the taste of cow’s milk since formula milk is sweeter.  The best way around this is to fool their little taste buds by mixing different ratios of formula milk and fresh milk. 
  • Another way to make this transition easier is to get them excited about drinking milk! For example, buy a special new cup that is just for them to drink milk from and show them how excited you are about the new cup. Remember, excitement is infectious! 
  • It will also help to warm up fresh milk slightly since milk straight from the fridge is much colder than formula milk or breastmilk. 
  • While introducing fresh milk, ensure your little one still has a balanced diet of solid foods, like cereals, vegetables, fruits, and meats.
  • Finally, don’t forget to only give them whole vitamin D milk as children at this age still need higher fat content.

Wow, it really is a lot of information! But take heart, once you get started weaning your little one, it will come very naturally and deepen the bond bond between you and your bub.

References: Apta Club, Healthy Children

Also read: Breastfeeding mums who eat spicy food have less picky babies