Its vital to know whatare optimum for your baby’s development. Weaning is the rather old-fashioned term for the start of mixed-feeding. In our great-grandmother’s days, babies had to be gradually weaned from the breast straight on to adult food.
Nowadays, with an enormous range of milk products and strained and mashed baby foods available, this process is certainly easier. Weaning can be looked at from the viewpoint of a gradual development change in the baby as he grows up.
- WEANING FOODS FOR MIXED-FEEDING
- Breastfed Babies
- Bottle-fed Babies
- HOW TO START
- Starting Cow’s Milk
- Types of Weaning Foods
- HYGIENE IN PREPARING FOODS
- THE MAIN FOOD GROUPS
- Roughage and Water
- MENU FOR A SIX MONTH-OLD BABY
- HOLIDAY FOODS
The timing of the introduction of new tastes varies from baby to baby. There is no set rule. The best approach is to go along with your baby’s tastes and to note when he is ready for a change from his milk-only diet.
If breastfeeding is going well, breast milk (with the addition of vitamins C and D) is the only food that your baby will need until he is six months old. After this age, breast milk does not contain sufficient iron for his needs, so you will need to start giving him tastes of new foods.
The general rule of milk being sufficient until six months old is as true of bottle-fed babies as it is of breastfed babies. In practice, most babies are started on mixed feeding at around three to four months old. Mixed-feeding before the age of six weeks (except in very special cases) is unwise, as this can cause strain on baby’s immature kidneys.
HOW TO START
If your baby is three months old and has been showing signs of restlessness long before his feed is due, the time has come to start mixed-feeding. Do not be tempted to thicken a bottle-feed with cereal; it is more satisfactory to start spoon-feeding straight away. Begin by experimenting with one new food at one of his feeds. It is unimportant which new taste you offer him first. It can be a cereal or a strained broth.
Most mothers, however, find a cereal feed the most convenient to start with as it is easier to make up in tiny amounts. A teaspoonful made up into a runny solid with some of the milk mixture (or boiled and then cooled cow’s milk if you are breastfeeding) is quite sufficient. Offer this to your baby before he has his bottle.
Do not be surprised if he pushes it away with his tongue at first. Taking food from a spoon is quite a different experience and involves a different technique from sucking at a bottle or the breast. If he takes the first taste happily, introduce other tastes gradually.
By introducing the foods one by one, you can find out with certainty which tastes agree or, perhaps, disagree with him. A good starter for the protein foods is either a home-made or powdered broth. As your baby gets more competent with spoon-feeding, introduce him to a wider range of foods. Gradually, over the weeks, he will work his way towards a three-meal-a-day timetable with just the addition of an early morning and bedtime drink.
By the time a bottle-fed baby is six months old, he is ready to change from the proprietary dried milks to ordinary bottled cow’s milk. Boil this for him until he is one year old, taking care to cool it sufficiently before offering it to your baby.
Types of Weaning Foods
Day by day, the variety of your baby’s diet increases. Ensure, however, that he does not get a liking for sweet foods. Sweet, starchy foods prepare the ground for overweight – both now and in later life. Educate his developing taste-buds with savoury tastes of cheese, fish, meat and vegetables with fresh fruit to follow. He can now eat much of the family food, provided it is suitably strained or mashed. Remember that highly spiced or fried foods are unsuitable for a young baby but he will enjoy most other new tastes.
From the age of six months on, your baby will be becoming increasingly keen to feed himself and the results will be rather messy. Self-feeding is best started by allowing him to hold a rusk, toast-crust or section of peeled apple. As there is a risk of his swallowing a large piece and choking, always stay near when he is feeding himself
Babies love to spoon-feed themselves. Sit by your baby whilst he does this and have another spoon at the ready to pop in the extra mouthful of food when his own efforts become too wild!
HYGIENE IN PREPARING FOODS
At the mixed-feeding stages, it is not now necessary to sterilize all the utensils you use to prepare your baby’s food, but remember that good hygiene is always vital. Hands must always be washed before preparing food for any member of the family, and food must not be left uncovered, particularly in hot weather.
Food that is reheated is a potential source of danger, as bacteria can multiply under these circumstances. If re-serving food. cook it again very thoroughly. It is worth remembering that babies, unlike adults, often prefer cold food and this will do them no harm.
THE MAIN FOOD GROUPS
The food we need can be divided into six main headings. For health, growth and development, a baby should have one or more daily portions of each.
Protein foods are the body-builders. They are complex chemical compounds which contain nitrogen and phosphorus in addition to carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Meat, fish, cheese and eggs are all excellent sources of first-class protein. Other foods, such as peas, lentils, beans and wheat also contain protein, but of not such a high standard as the first-class protein foods. This is why they are termed second-class protein foods.
Carbohydrates are energy producers. They are built up from carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, and are found, in abundance, in bread, sugar, potatoes, jam and biscuits-to mention just a few. Growing children need carbohydrates every day to replenish their energy, but take care they do not eat carbohydrate foods to the exclusion of other foods. Taken in excess carbohydrates will put on unwanted pounds and inches.
Fats are the warming foods. These can be given as animal fats, such as those found in fat meat, butter and cream, or as vegetable fats, such as those found in margarine, olive and nut oils. They are also made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, but in a different chemical combination from carbohydrates. Small quantities are needed daily by growing children.
Vitamins are needed in very small quantities every day to ensure normal growth and health. Each vitamin is found in one or other of the three main food groups, and also in fresh fruit or vegetables. The main vitamins are vitamins A, B, C and D.
Vitamin A, which is necessary for healthy bone development in children, is found in milk, butter, egg-yolk and cod liver oil.
Vitamin B group (several substances) is found in peas, beans, wholemeal bread, raw carrots and cabbage. It is important for the healthy growth of nervous tissue, and for red blood cell formation.
Vitamin C is the vitamin that prevents scurvy. It is found in all citrus fruits and tomatoes. As it cannot be stored in the body, it must be taken every day.
Vitamin D is unusual inasmuch as it can be produced by the action of sunlight on the skin, as well as being found in eggs, milk, butter and cod liver oil. All these vitamins (with the exception of the B group of vitamins) can be given to your baby or toddler in the form of drops or bottled fruit juices As your toddler eats more and more of a mixed diet, he should obtain sufficient vitamins from this.
Certain minerals – iron, calcium, sodium and potassium are also necessary for health and growth, but a normal mixed diet will contain adequate amounts.
Roughage and Water
Roughage in the form of green vegetables, salads, wholemeal bread and fruit is also necessary for healthy bowel functioning. Water, too, whether it is in the form of fruit juice, milk or straight out of the tap, must be taken in adequate quantities every day. These, then, are the foods that everyone needs daily-a daunting list, perhaps, when viewed on paper!
But just think how naturally most meals fit the pattern. From a baby’s point of view the tastes of carbohydrate and protein in cereal and broth, together with vitamin drops of A, B and D and drinks of vitamin C will come first. Then, as he gains the skills of chewing, more variety and roughage can be added in the form of bread, rusks, pieces of apple and carrot as well as milk to top up his needs.
Tastes of your own home-cooked food will follow, until by the time he is two years old, he will be eating almost the same diet as you are, with the exception of highly spiced or very fatty foods. Drinks, too, will have progressed from milk only to a variety of fruit juices and, perhaps, even weak tea. All these steps will follow logically and simply.
MENU FOR A SIX MONTH-OLD BABY
When your baby wakes, probably around six-thirty, you can give him a drink of orange juice or rose-hip syrup. He will still need a daily intake of about 6 to 8 fl oz of milk to drink. For breakfast: cereal and milk feed.
For lunch: choose from meat, fish, cheese or egg, plus vegetables, plus milk feed. A pudding is not recommended since a baby may develop a preference for this and refuse meat, vegetables or milk. If puddings are given, they should consist of plain yoghurt, mashed banana or stewed or puréed apple. Raisins, sultanas, dates and currants should not be given until the baby is eighteen to twenty-four months old. Ideally fruit should be served at breakfast or teatime rather than as a second course for lunch, when meat, vegetables and milk are sufficient.
At tea-time, he will need either a rusk or bread and butter and fruit juice. At six p.m., fruit purée and milk feed. At ten p.m. he may require a milk feed. A baby has a good idea of how much food he needs. Provided he is not given too much cereal or cakes or sweet things, he should not be overweight with this kind of diet.
Begin with cauliflower, parsnips, carrot and Jerusalem artichokes. Follow these with French beans, lentils, and peas. Finally, introduce spinach, cabbage, onions, sprouts, swede, turnip and potato. (Never give potatoes which show any trace of green to babies).
Boil all the vegetables in the minimum amount of unsalted water and, for maximum nutrition, purée with the vegetable water. (A baby’s kidneys cannot dispose of salt in the body until he is about eight months old).
At four to five months old, give yolk of egg only. Soft boiled eggs can be mixed into cereal or vegetables. Next give scrambled egg and egg custards.
Cottage cheese is excellent because it has a low fat content. This can be followed by Cheddar, Edam and other hard cheeses melted into hot vegetables and purées
Only white fish should be offered at first. Cook in a little milk, or place a small piece on a plate and steam over boiling water or vegetables. Cover with a lid and cook for ten to fifteen minutes until cooked.
Bought fruit yogurts usually contain a lot of sugar, and yoghurt containing fruit seeds must be strained. It is far better to give plain yoghurt.
Fresh chicken, rabbit, beef, lamb, sweetbread, kidney and liver are all suitable if combined with equal quantities of vegetables. (Do not cook frozen food such as poultry for a baby. Unless well-thawed and really thoroughly cooked, it can cause gastroenteritis).
Puréed cereals are a valuable part of a baby’s diet, but less than a third of a baby’s solid intake should be of cereal. Begin by serving rice, then slowly introduce other cereals such as whole-wheat, semolina, maize, rye and oats.
Ripe mashed bananas are a good first choice; so are apples stewed in a little water. If tinned fruits are used, the sweet syrup should be strained off before they are puréed. Raisins, sultanas and dates should not be given until a baby is about eighteen to twenty-four months old.
A toddler is rather conservative where food is concerned. For this reason it is wise to ensure that some of his familiar foods will be available on holiday. The slightly older child of two or three years will probably enjoy new tastes and textures as much as you will.
Give these in moderation, grid avoid food that is too greasy or too highly seasoned. Children are adaptable little people. By using them to sample all kinds of foods early iii. you will be laying the foundation for a healthy and unprejudiced palate in later life.