Many thanks to Baby Journey for this article. You can find them here: https://www.babyjourney.net
When to Start Weaning
Most professionals, like the World Health Organization (WHO), recommend exclusively breastfeeding for the first 6 months of your baby’s life.
While certain solid foods (rice cereal, sweet potato puree, etc.) are safe to give your baby starting from 4 months, it is best if you wait to start solids until between the ages of 6 and 8 months.
How to Start Weaning
Sure, you can force feed your baby solids immediately when they turn 6 months old, but a better approach to weaning is baby-led.
Baby-led weaning typically skips the purees and packaged baby foods, opting for foods that they can feed themselves.
In order to ensure that your method of baby-led weaning is safe, you need to make sure they are able to sit up on their own, have decent hand-eye coordination, and can “chew” and swallow efficiently.
You don’t have to go with baby-led weaning though. You can always start with spoon feeding mashed fruits, pureed vegetables, and grain cereals. There is nothing wrong with either approach and we will include foods in our list that cover both.
How to Cut Foods for Weaning
If you decide to go with baby-led weaning, you will need to know how to cut them for your baby’s age and developmental stage to reduce the risk for choking.
Starting around 6 months, your baby will not likely have mastered their pincer grasp, so you will want pieces big enough that they can grasp with their entire hand and/or fist. They likely will not have teeth yet, so they will probably just gnaw at the stick-shaped food you give them.
As they get a bit older, you can cut their food into smaller cubes that can be picked up using a pincer grasp and chewed with their new teeth.
Of course, your child should always be supervised while they eat in case they bite off more than they can chew and swallow.
Now, let’s talk about the best first foods to give your baby when it’s time to start weaning.
Soft fruits are a great place to start when it’s time to start weaning. They are easy to mash if you want to spoon feed your child and they are also easy to “chew” even if your little one only has gums.
Bananas provide sweetness which makes it a favourite first food for most babies. Apple sauce or pureed pear are other great options.
Some babies may find that after 6 months of bland breast milk, some fruits may have too much flavour and they may not like them. In this case, avocados can be a great choice.
Since they don’t typically trigger any potential allergies and are free from animal products, legumes are a great choice for a first food that is packed with protein.
Trying boiling or mashing them to make them easy to eat. You can even slightly season them with just a little salt to help with flavor.
Grain or Rice Cereal
If you are hesitant to give your baby something new for fear of allergies, or if you want to try a simple stepping stone between breastfeeding and solid foods, rice cereal (or some other grain-based cereal) is a great choice.
You can easily mix a little bit of formula or breastmilk into the cereal, which will give it a similar flavour, and easier transition to the new method of eating and swallowing.
Another healthy option are vegetables that you can either steam, boil, stew, roast, or mash to make them easier to eat for your little one.
You will want to focus on vegetables that are somewhat bland and easy to digest by immature digestive systems. These may include carrots, green beans, sweet potatoes, or just about any form of squash (butternut is a favourite for most babies).
It is important that you rule out any potential allergies before introducing your little one to eggs, but as long as they don’t have any, eggs are a great choice for weaning.
You can either scramble them or give them cut up hard boiled eggs, which are packed with protein and healthy fats.