Breastfeeding and Weaning

Breastfeeding and Weaning

It is good to find out as much as you can about breastfeeding before having a baby; it improves confidence from the offset and ensures you can find support if and when you need it. It may take time to get the hang of breastfeeding, but nearly all women produce enough milk for their baby.

Encouraging breastfeeding is best practice for healthcare professionals, breast milk provides all the nutrition a baby needs for the first six months of life; it also protects babies from a range of infections, allergies, and potential medical conditions.

Those who are unable to breastfeed should not suffer any emotional distress at the prospect; there are a number of milk alternatives currently available that will ensure healthy child growth, and the most important factor is trying.

Weaning

It is recommended that weaning should start when a baby is around 6 months old. At the beginning, how much a baby eats is less important than getting them used to the idea of eating; they will still get most of their energy and nutrients from breast milk (or first infant formula).

First foods may include single vegetables and fruits, such as mashed/ soft cooked parsnip, broccoli, sweet potato, carrot, apple or pear. Try to introduce vegetables that are not sweet, such as broccoli, cauliflower and spinach so that your baby gets accustomed to a variety of flavours from the outset; this can help prevent fussy eaters in the future.

It is advisable to introduce foods containing allergens (such as peanuts, eggs, gluten and fish) 1 at a time and in small amounts so you can spot any potential reactions. Read more about food allergies here

It is important to note that babies do not need salt or sugar added to their food (or cooking water).

Encourage finger foods 

When your baby starts eating solid foods it is advisable to get them involved in mealtimes by touching and exploring food. Encourage finger foods and self-feeding when they want to; this increases exposure to different food textures and can also help develop fine motor skills and hand-eye co-ordination.