Weaning: Your questions answered

We put the weaning questions you asked us on our Instagram page to Angharad Banner, an NHS registered children's dietitian. Here she has loads of advice when it comes to weaning, baby foods and mealtimes with your baby... and much more!

You can also head over to our Weaning highlight on Instagram, where we put some more of your questions to Angharad.

For further information, advice and support around weaning visit the NHS website. And if you have any further concerns speak to your GP or Health Visitor.

Angharad is an experienced NHS registered children's dietician.

When and where to start

Q. How do I introduce weaning to my baby’s routine?

There is no set time that you should start weaning. I always say to parents to try it at a time that works well for them so it can be a relaxing and enjoyable experience for everyone. The first few times are more like tastes and are not nutritionally significant so you don’t need to worry about timing it with breast or bottle feeds.

A feed can be given as usual when your baby wakes up and breakfast can be offered around 30 to 60 mins after that. I would wait a little while after a meal before a bath, but there is no set time.

Start with one meal a day and increase to two when you feel your baby is taking a few mouthfuls. This can be within the first week but for some it may not be for a couple of weeks.

Q. How quickly should you move on from the puree stage to lumpier textures? And what should you move onto next?

A thicker puree can be offered around 7 months as well as soft finger foods. At 9 months you can try a mashed and minced consistency and continue with the finger foods. By around 12 months you can try chopped family foods and a range of finger foods.

Q. My baby gags when I try to introduce finger food. What should I do?

Try soft finger foods such as well-cooked vegetables and fruit initially and move onto crunchier ones such as toast or breadsticks as they get the hang of it.

Q. If of age, but not yet sitting or appearing interested in food, what can be offered to encourage them to eat?

If they are not developmentally ready then I would wait and check with your neonatal team before trying solids. You could try offering teething rings or other toys that they can hold and see if they start to put these in their mouth.

Milk

Q. How do I know if I’m feeding my little one too much milk? Should I just feed her until she doesn’t want it anymore?

If you are breastfeeding then feeding on demand works well and your baby will be getting the right amount. If you are bottle feeding then a rough feeding guide is written on the side of the tin. You can also check with your Health Visitor.

Q. My 10 month old daughter is still refusing to take liquid from a bottle no matter what type of bottle it is and I have to give her milk whilst she’s napping. It’s exhausting and taking its toll on me. I’m worried how my mum will cope with this when I go back to work. Any suggestions?

Some babies just don’t seem to get on with the bottle and you are not alone. You could try a free flowing beaker instead and try and encourage a beaker of water at meal times too to ensure she is well hydrated.

Q. What’s the best alternative to cow’s milk? Is there anything I should be looking out for?

An alternative to cow’s milk is soya or an oat based milk. Do check that they are fortified with calcium and iodine. They should only be given as a main milk drink if your child is over one year and eating a variety of foods as they are lower in energy and protein.

Cow’s milk can be used in cooking from around 6 months of age.

Allergies

Q. How can you tell if your baby has a gluten intolerance?

It is quite rare for a baby to have a gluten intolerance whilst constipation is quite common and has many causes. Before you make any changes to your baby’s diet and exclude foods I suggest you speak to your GP or Health Visitor for advice.

Vitamins

Q. I’ve just started my 6-month-old, exclusively breastfed baby, on baby led weaning. She’s currently isn’t ingesting much, which I understand is normal, but I’m concerned about her not getting enough iron (I was deficient during pregnancy). I’m also struggling to find multivitamin (for a, c and d, as recommended) that doesn't contain some form of sugar and warn about tooth decay. Please could you advise on appropriate supplements and if they’re necessary?

A vitamin supplement containing 8.5 – 10mcg vitamin D is recommended from birth for all babies that are breastfed or partially breastfed. I would not be overly concerned by the small amount of sugar in vitamin preparations, but I do suggest giving it with a meal or shortly before you brush your babies teeth.

You could try using fortified breakfast cereals and fortified breads to help increase iron intake. I would discuss your babies’ diet with your Health Visitor if you are concerned about iron intake and they can advise on appropriate supplements as necessary.

Specific food questions

Q. How do pre-cooked pouches compare to home cooked meals? When should my son be able to use a spoon? He’s currently 10-months-old and can get the spoon in his mouth, but can’t really load it.

It is good to offer a mix of home-cooked food if you are able as they work out a lot less expensive. It also provides opportunity for your baby to transition to family style meals more easily.

I would keep practising with your son and he will soon get the hang of it. You could try with two spoons and have a bit of fun helping him to feed himself.

Q. My son is 8-months and has had a variety of foods. He has eczema and I was wondering if that means I shouldn’t try him with peanut butter? I’d heard that he has a higher chance of having a reaction to it because of the eczema?

It does depend on when the eczema started, the severity and if it is under control. It is also important to know if there is family history of allergy and whether your baby already has a food allergy such as cow’s milk protein allergy. I suggest you speak to your GP for advice. If the eczema is under control and there is no family history then it may be appropriate to try a small amount in the morning.

Q. My daughter is 8-months-old and when we tried to feed her avocado (around 6 months) the first two times she ate it no problem. The third time she vomited the avocado backup, then vomited for 3 hours and we haven’t tried to feed her avocado since. Do you think this was an allergic reaction considering she ate it without a problem the first two times? Do you think we should try to feed her avocado again?

It may be that she had an infection at the time and so it is difficult to say. I suggest that you wait to try it again and ensure she is well and try it in the morning so you have time to monitor the symptoms.

Q. Is it ok to give flavoured yoghurts like strawberry ones to a 10-month-old baby?

It is fine but do try and choose the lower sugar options, where possible.

Q. When is the right time to introduce rice and should it be overcooked and or blended?

Due to its texture you may want to wait until your baby is around 7-months of age and overcooking it slightly can help mash it to the right consistency.

Q. Are mushrooms allowed?

You can give mushrooms as part of a weaning diet. I suggest washing and peeling them before cooking.

Q. I've seen recipes for food with bicarbonate soda in them etc. Is this safe for babies' tummies?

Yes, a small amount used in cooking is absolutely fine.

Q. My one-year-old won’t touch tomatoes or peppers or anything of that texture. Any suggestions?

I suggest you use them in meals and chop them up finely so they are being exposed to the tastes. I also would recommend persevering with offering the vegetables. Try cutting them up into different shapes and show how much you enjoy eating them at mealtimes.

Q. My baby has had a reaction to sesame. I am breastfeeding so do I need to avoid this too?

If the reaction occurred following your baby eating sesame then you do not need to avoid it. Do be careful if you eat sesame however and wash your hands and face before you touch your baby.

If your baby is exclusively breast fed and the reaction occurred following you eating sesame then yes, you should avoid it whilst you are still breastfeeding.

Reflux, constipation and other health issues

Q. My daughter has reflux and water seems to really trigger it and make her sick. Should I still give her water? If so, how? She's seven-months-old.

I suggest you still offer the water but try limiting it to meal times and see if this helps.

Q. My baby had duodenal atresia when born and gets constipated sometimes. What do I do?

I suggest you speak to your paediatrician or GP for advice as the constipation may well be unrelated to the atresia and may need a more detailed history to identify the underlying cause.

Q. Why does my 8-month-old’s brown poop have red pepper like pieces in it when she hasn’t had any?

It may well be due to other foods you are giving her such as tomato skins or perhaps the outer layer of a baked bean.

Q. My son is 20-weeks-old, fed on breast milk and formula. He seems to have constipation recently (3 days without stool). How could I solve this problem? Can I start getting solid food?

Do ensure you are drinking plenty of fluids as you are breastfeeding and your baby is getting enough fluid from formula and breastfeeds and having regular wet nappies. If the constipation continues, I suggest you speak to your GP or Health Visitor.

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