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5-Step guide.

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Five Step Weaning guide

Step one – baby rice:

You can buy boxes of baby rice from chemists and supermarkets. Baby rice is a dried powder which you can mix with either breast milk or formula – make it up to have the consistency of thick soup to begin with, ie quite liquid and not too solid.

Use a plastic baby spoon, softer than metal, and don’t worry if your baby spits out most of her first meal. The idea is to get her used to the feel of solid food in her mouth rather than to give her a good meal. It takes a few days for babies to learn to move the food from the front to the backs of their mouths.

Step two – new flavours:

Once your baby is able to eat a bit of baby rice, you can introduce new flavours. Start with pureed carrot which you can mix with formula or breast milk until it is the consistency of thick soup.

If after three days your baby has shown no adverse reaction, you can boil up some pear, then mash and mix with breast milk or formula.

Over the next couple of weeks you can introduce more easy-to-digest flavours to your baby including cooked apple, parsnip, potato, and sweet potato.

You can also try foods that don’t need cooking including mashed banana, avocado, papaya and peach.

Remember to leave three days between introducing each food to check for any adverse reactions such as a rash, diarrhoea or vomiting.

You can freeze pureed foods in ice cube trays – don’t mix with milk if you intend to freeze. Then you can defrost as needed and mix and match different cubes to create new flavours.

How much should I feed my baby?

Babies know when they’ve had enough so don’t worry about over-feeding your baby. She’ll stop when she’s had enough and make it clear to you by turning her head away from the spoon.

You’ll find that one cube makes one meal for the first week or so, and gradually your baby will eat three or four cubes in one sitting. Just like adults, babies’ appetites go up and down, so do be guided by your baby.

Sometimes she’ll eat just a few mouthfuls, and at other times she’ll finish everything and want more. But if you follow her lead you’ll probably find that she’ll be eating three or four cubes per meal after about six weeks.

And as a general guide, your baby should be eating two solid meals a day after a month, and three solid meals a day after about two months.

Step three – meat and veg:

You can give babies meat once they are nearly six months or over. It’s quite important to get them onto meat quickly because it tops up their iron stores which will have been depleted since their birth.

Try cooked, pureed chicken and mix it with one of the vegetables your baby is already happy to eat, plus some formula or breast milk, or a little water to make it easy to swallow.

Continue to introduce new foods every three days – so try beef, pork, lamb or turkey – just remember to puree them well to make them easy to swallow.

You can also start your baby on fruit and vegetables which are more difficult to digest including pureed beans, pees and broccoli as well as mashed raspberries and citrus fruit.

Step four – wheat, dairy, fish and eggs

When you introduce wheat, give your baby a full week to be sure that there is no adverse reaction. You can buy baby cereal that contain wheat, or just use Weetabix (mixed with formula milk). And if your baby is seven months or older she could chew on a bit of bread.

If your baby is happy with wheat, you can go on to introduce dairy products. Start with cow’s milk – a little mixed into her usual cubes is a good test. Or perhaps add some plain yoghurt. You’ll need to wait a full week to be sure your baby isn’t dairy intolerant.

With fish, begin with white fish (check for bones!). And avoid smoked fish which is too salty, and shellfish, which can sometimes cause serious food poisoning, until your baby is a year.

Finally, you can introduce your baby to eggs – start with hard boiled egg yolk and wait a week to check for allergies. Then introduce egg white – more likely to cause allergies than the yolk.

Step five – lumps, finger food and beyond

From eight months, babies can eat lumpier food. Don’t delay this too much because some babies end up insisting that they want everything finely pureed. So don’t puree vegetables quite as finely as previously. You can also buy baby pasta which you can add to purees.

As for finger food, try giving your baby half a banana, a piece of cheese, or a small piece of dry toast to suck on.

To reduce the risk of choking avoid foods that can get stuck in the throat such as grapes, cherries and cherry tomatoes – always cut these in half before giving to babies and toddlers. And of course avoid nuts which shouldn’t be given whole until five years old.  

By the time your baby is 12 months, she should be eating what the rest of the family is having. You’ll have to chop up meat into tiny pieces, and cut up foods like spaghetti and noodles to make them more manageable.

But you’ll be free to go out without packing purees and jars because your baby will be able to pretty much eat whatever you’re having.