solid advice: weaning your Baby

Aveen Bannon, Registered Dietitian and Consultant Nutritionist on Weaning onto solids. 

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Weaning onto solid foods is a critical nutritional and physiological stage in an infant’s life. Congratulations on reaching this important milestone with your little one! Most parents have lots of questions about this important developmental stage. Consultant dietitian Aveen Bannon has developed this guide with Glenisk to help answer some of these important questions.

when do i start??

Introducing solids into your baby’s diet is a vital step in ensuring all their nutritional needs are met, therefore allowing adequate growth and development. For most babies, the ideal time to begin weaning is close to 6 months (26 weeks). The weaning process should not commence before the baby is 4 months of age/17 weeks and not later than 6 months/26 weeks. The weaning period is seen as a ‘window of opportunity’ in that a variety of foods can be offered along with different tastes, textures, flavours along with rougher  food consistencies in the later stages.

This is a completely new mystifying experience for your baby. Although sucking is a natural reflex, babies need to be ready to learn the new skill of pushing food to the back of their mouth with their tongues and swallowing. Choose a time of day when you can give plenty of time and energy to the task. Midday is usually considered a good time to start and if possible try to feed your baby at the same time daily to establish a routine. As babies are used to food coming in a steady stream they can find the gap between mouthfuls frustrating so it is a good idea to offer some milk before feeding so that they are not frantically hungry.

introducing solids
into your baby’s
diet is a vital step

other develpomental signs indicating your baby is ready to start weaing include;
what will i start with?

ideas for first weaning foods include;

From 6-9 months

From 9-12 months

what about gluten & allergens?

Following the six month stage, gluten can be introduced into the diet along with beaker cup use. New evidence suggests that gluten can actually be offered from 4 months and that this will not effect risk of develping coeliac disease. However large amounts of gluten should be discouraged in the first few months after introduction. When introducing gluten it is best to start with one serving twice in one week, then you can increase to 3 times the following week and so on. 

Avoiding certain foods in the weaning diet to prevent allergy is not recommended. The Irish Food Allergy Netwrok (IFAN) state that there is no benefit in delaying the introduction of peanut. They state that peanut in soft forms along with cows milk, egg, fish and tree nuts, should be introduced into the diets of healthy infants. Cows milk can be introduced from 6 months added to foods in small quanitites or in the form of yogurt but should not be given as sole source of milk before 1 year. Good pracitse is to introduce these foods one at a time in case there is an allergy reaction so you can pinpoint which food was the problem.

what foods should avoid before 12 months?
I’ve heard of baby led weaning…what is this??

Baby led weaning is when the baby is encouraged to self feed with solids rather than being spoon fed purees. We actually don’t thave a public heatlh policy on this in Ireland at the moment. Some thougths around this topic suggest that babies fed this way are more likely to eat more variery of foods and are less likely to be overweight. Others voice concerns around the nutritional adequacy of baby led weaning diets and that the babies may be underweight. More research needs to be done in the area and its impact on growth. If you want to consider baby led weaning I would suggest discussing with your GP, PHN or dietitian to ensure nutritional adequacy.

For more on Weaning check out Aveen’s Top 10 Weaning Tips.


HSE Nutrition Reference Pack 0-12 months 2016


IFAN 2016

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