There is so much conflicting advice about weaning nowadays – so many different sources of information and nearly everyone has an opinion of some sort. It’s sometimes difficult to work out what to believe and what to ignore…
In this blog, we’re looking at some of the most common myths and seeing if there’s any truth behind them…
- Weaning will help your baby sleep through the night
How I wished this were true when my babies were little! Sadly it’s not … introducing solids won’t necessarily help your baby sleep through the night. For young babies in particular, sleep and food should be viewed separately; studies have proved there is no correlation between the two.
Photo by Dakota Corbin
- Snacking is a bad habit
Many babies are grazers – so offering small, frequent meals or snacks suits their natural eating style. Their tummies are small, so they can’t always eat enough at mealtimes to last them until the next meal. Once they are toddlers running around, they’ll burn off so much energy, snacks will be needed to keep them going between meals.
Of course, it’s best to keep snacks healthy (toast fingers, cubes of cheese, fresh fruit, rice cakes etc) to encourage them into healthy eating habits and protect their teeth. It’s also worth avoiding snacks too close to mealtimes – as this can affect their appetite.
Photo by Jamie Street
- Babies can’t have nuts
Whole nuts are a choking hazard and should not be given to children under 5 years old. However, nut butters are a great way to introduce new textures and flavours to your weaning baby. Nut butter spread on some bread / oat or rice cakes is a great healthy snack for your little one.
** Please note: If there is a history of nut allergies in your family, please consult your doctor or health visitor before offering nuts – in any shape or form – to your little one.
- Babies can’t manage spicy foods / unusual flavours
The advice used to be that babies should be given bland, easy flavours in the early days of weaning. This is no longer the case. Babies will grow accustomed to what they eat – so if only given bland flavours, this is what they will prefer. Adding herbs and spices to your babies’ meals will help them get used to a wider range of flavours and encourage them to be more adventurous in their food choices. Variety is the key. Just avoid chilli, which can lead to stomach upsets.
- Babies with no teeth shouldn’t be given lumpy food
From 6 months, babies can manage soft lumps and minced / mashed food by chewing with their gums. Just make sure the lumps aren’t too hard. Introducing different textures from an early age is really important to avoid your little one rejecting food with more bits / lumps as they get older.
- Babies shouldn’t play with their food
This is quite an old fashioned myth but worth mentioning anyway. Playing with their food is a key part of your baby’s development – helping them learn about textures, stimulating their different senses and giving them a chance to practice skills such as the pincer movement. You may not want to give your baby free rein with their food at every mealtime – but letting them play with their food sometimes is so good for them.
- The 3 day rule
Some weaning advice suggests waiting 3 days between introducing new foods – to check for reactions / allergies.
Most weaning experts now agree this is not necessary – unless your child suffers from allergies or has bad reactions to certain foods. Introducing new foods every day or so, allows your baby to try lots of new tastes and textures more quickly. Mixing new foods with flavours your baby is already familiar with, can reduce the risk of new foods being rejected.
If you’re concerned about introducing a certain food or food group to your baby, please consult your doctor or health visitor for advice.
- If baby-led weaning, you shouldn’t spoon feed purees
This is the advice from true baby-led weaning advocates…However, for many mums a combination of the 2 approaches works really well. Finger foods and purees can work alongside each other – exposing your baby to a range of different textures as well as teaching them about both self feeding and using cutlery.
- Chewing their fists is a sign your baby is ready for weaning
Not necessarily. Many babies put their hands in their mouth from not long after birth. Chewing their fists can be a sign of teething or just exploring themselves and their bodies.
- Mums should decide how much their little one should eat
Your baby should determine how much they eat…
This is a hard one for some mums – particularly if you’ve lovingly made a delicious meal for your little one!
From birth, babies know when they are hungry or not and are very good at working out when they’ve had enough (often better than many adults!). If you let your child be guided by their natural appetite, they’ll eat what they need to fuel their growth and stop when they’ve had enough. Actions such as closing their mouth and refusing to open it, turning the head away, pushing food away and shaking their heads can be a sign they’ve had enough.
Good luck, relax and enjoy this stage of your baby’s development…
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