As your baby gets older and puts on weight, his or her nutritional needs will grow. Exclusive feeding with breast milk or organic infant formula may no longer fully satisfy your baby. The World Health Organization and Holle recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months. Some babies can be breastfed longer while others will need a small amount of solid food to feel satisfied.
As a rule of thumb, weaning with purees and porridges can gradually be introduced after 4 to 6 months of age. Because every child is different and because even from an early age children can have individual meal preferences, some differences from recommended weaning plans are possible and, in fact, are perfectly normal. Additionally, your baby’s level of physical activity will influence the nutritional needs and the amount of food he or she will demand. More lively and bigger children need more energy than quieter children and will need to be fed more often or have large feeds.
Starting solid foods is a big step for your baby. Eating is a whole new experience – there are new tastes and flavours for your baby to explore and different sensations to get used to. It’s a lot for a little baby to cope with. Start slowly, give your baby and yourself enough time and introduce new meals step by step. A few teaspoons are enough to begin with. Usually a baby needs around a week to get used to a new food. If you follow this suggestion, it will be easier to spot any problems such as intolerances or allergies as early as possible. You may also note changes in your baby’s digestion or stools after introducing a new food. This way you can act quickly and substitute ingredients if necessary.
Purée and porridge meals are gradually substituted for breast milk or bottle feeds. Ideally, you will start at lunchtime, just before the milk feed, to introduce a few teaspoons of vegetable purée. Slowly increase the amount until the whole lunchtime breast or bottle feed is replaced.
Over the months you will go on to replace the afternoon and evening milks feeds with either milk cereal or fruit cereal meals.