Weaning Baby and Breastfeeding

Baby-led weaning is a term that conjoins the physical and developmental readiness for the infant to have interest in food. The ability to have good head support and posture, oral development -that supports the tongue to move a mass of food from the tip of the tongue to the rear of the mouth through chewing, an active gag reflex that protects the airway for safe swallowing of food and hand eye coordination to reach out and hold food.

There is no evidence to support that an infant needs to start on puréed and spoon feeding. With baby led weaning the infant learns to chew first and then swallow.
baby led weaning

Baby-led Weaning

Baby-led weaning is a term that conjoins the physical and developmental readiness for the infant to have interest in food. The ability to have good head support and posture, oral development -that supports the tongue to move a mass of food from the tip of the tongue to the rear of the mouth through chewing, an active gag reflex that protects the airway for safe swallowing of food and hand eye coordination to reach out and hold food.

There is no evidence to support that an infant needs to start on puréed and spoon feeding. With baby led weaning the infant learns to chew first and then swallow.

Why 6 months?

There is a lot of research supporting that mums’ milk has all your baby needs for the early months. Around six months, some of the micronutrients dip such as iron and moving to solid foods can compliment this.

At six months they are also developmentally ready and evidence supports that introducing solids and lumpier foods can also help with speech and language development.

What Foods to Start with:

The most important thing is that infants are always supervised and should not be left alone with food.

Many mums may start with steamed carrot sticks, sweet potato wedges, cut cucumber, as these are easy to grasp by the ever learning six-month baby and over time, you can reduce the sizes to smaller pieces.

There is no reason not to give your baby Spaghetti Bolognese or mashed potato, cauliflower and broccoli cheese if your baby is reaching out to explore these.

No Bowls or Spoons?

To be honest, weaning is all about learning and having fun. Be prepared for mess! Many mums look at using just the high chair tray rather than having a bowl that can be thrown on the floor. A spoon can be shoved too far or could be too long to be used from pot to mouth, but those amazing fingers and hands can hold, dip and pick up food straight into the mouth.

You may feel protecting the floor is useful, wipe clean tablecloths for the early few weeks and bibs including sleeves can be helpful. With time your baby will be able to coordinate a spoon and use a bowl but there is no rush.

What about breastfeeds?

For the first month or so your baby's main nutrition will still be mums milk. You can start weaning but still breast feed first before mealtimes to begin with. This will gradually shift if your baby then nurses to sleep for a nap. By 7-8 months your baby will be eating more and more solids, but may too still be wanting milk feeds. Just see how you go.

Nightfeeds:

Many mums are unsure about the advice around night feeds and weaning. There are no rules, however there are some factors to consider which may help.

We know that breastfeeding is so much more than milk and food, babies get comfort, reassurance, feel safe and secure and it can act as pain relief when little one is teething or unwell. To suddenly stop feeding and reduce a time when your baby is reaching out to mum may be distressing and confusion/uncertainty is to be expected.

If your baby is on the higher centile for weight and length your health visitor will have a chat with you to understand what foods, you are giving and will help you to find the right balance without affecting nursing.

Some babies are more unsettled during weaning as their tummies and digestive system have to adapt and breakdown food that is more complex than milk. This may make them a little more unsettled and colicky at night time but just know, it does settle. There is no reason to stop offering night feeds if that is what you and your baby want, it is just a case of finding the right balance for both of you.

Going Back to Work:

Some mums find that their baby doesn't bottle feed even with expressed milk and often have increased feeds in the evening and during the night.

This is difficult for mum having to balance work, sleep deprivation and the needs of their baby.

If baby is having solids then your baby's carer can add expressed milk into breakfast cereals, make a cheese sauce, offer yogurts, sugar free jelly as ways of giving them fluids, and then when mum comes home they just go to breast and take what they need. This is another topic that we will come back to at a later date.

What is important to remember is that weaning should be fun, a learning experience, each baby will wean at their own pace, don't compare with your friends’ baby but share recipe ideas, tips and laugh at the mess with them. Enjoy this next stage, meal times are a time of coming together as family and friends.