So your baby is ready to start transitioning from total dependence on milk (breast or infant formula) to normal family meals…Excited? Ready? Totally confused and overwhelmed?! Here are a few little pointers from us to get you started…..
When should I wean?
For the first 6 months, breast milk or formula milk provide all the nutrients your baby needs and current recommendations are not to wean your baby before this point*. By six months of age, your baby’s iron stores will have started to deplete and their digestive systems will be ready to process nutrients from other food sources.
Keep in mind however, that for the rest of the first year of your baby’s life, breast or formula milk should continue to be a main source of sustenance, so don’t panic if the weaning process seems slow- it should be a gradual introduction to complimentary foods.
Firstly, feeding your baby and even your whole family a veggie or plant-based diet does not mean you have to;
- Compromise on valuable nutrients (quite the opposite….. see our Nutrition section)
- Compromise on taste (honestly, just try some of our scrumptious recipes!)
- Spend a fortune on specialist food or supplements
- Spend hours each day soaking lentils
- Turn into a hippy, stop washing and start wearing tie-dye (although we’re totally ok with that, if that’s your thing)
Switching to eating meat-free or fully plant-based, even for just a few meals each week can be hugely rewarding to your health, pocket, and the planet; but why wean your baby this way?
Babies and children who eat predominantly wholesome plant-based foods are more likely to:
- Have a healthy body weight as they grow
- Have a reduced risk of heart disease
- Have lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure
- Have reduced mortality rates
- Enjoy fruits and vegetables!
- Enjoy a greater variety of foods
See the resources on our links page for more tips and info on scientifically proven health benefits of plant-based diets in both adults and children!
By allowing your baby to taste and experience the deliciousness and sweetness of foods as nature intended and particularly vegetables right from the start, they will learn to love a large variety of veggies, fruits, nuts, grains and pulses that are typically disliked by many children and yet are so important for optimal growth and development. Bringing vegetables to the centre of your family meals and the main focus on your child’s plate make them a totally normal and important part of the family diet. This means they are then less likely to be refused later (look out for future blog posts on ‘encouraging good eating habits and a love of vegetables’).
More and more people are starting to wise up to the benefits of eating less meat and a plant-based diet for optimum health throughout the lifespan. We can trundle on about the statistics regarding vegetarian and plant-based nutrition and heart disease, diabetes etc., and about how much energy and space it takes to farm animals compared to grains etc., but if we don’t know where to start or what delicious things to eat instead, then it’s not going to motivate us to change. Well, look no further because that’s where ‘Baby Loves Veg’ comes in!
Our aim is to provide you with loads of tasty vegetarian and plant-based recipe ideas to help you start your baby’s journey into food discovery right, and give them the best possible chance at loving the types of foods that will help them flourish and thrive.
How should I wean?
There are two main methods typically used to introduce ‘solid’ foods (traditional spoon-feeding purees verses baby-led weaning), and it can be confusing and difficult to decide which method to use. Speak to any two families and you’ll probably find they’ve done it differently. It’s a fun journey of discovery (yes, another one, this parenting malarkey is full of them), that you are going to embark on with your child in your own way.
There are pros and cons of both methods and one may well suit one family and baby, and not another. In short, one can take a lot of prep, the other can make a lot of mess! Some parents end up striking a happy balance between the two, allowing baby to experience a range of textures and feeding techniques.
A lot of the recipes we will be blogging about will be suitable from 6 months+ for after those first few weeks of trying individual tastes and textures (see our first blog post feed baby the rainbow for inspiration about veggies to try during those first couple of weeks), and so will suit those of you embarking on baby-led weaning. If puréed goodness is more your thing then a lot of the dishes can easily be blended and the finger foods you can just keep a note of for later!
Either way, we hope you and your baby love this time of exploring new foods and that we can give you inspiration for wholesome meals and snacks that will set your little one up for a lifetime of healthy food choices.
*If you think your baby might be ready before this 6-month mark, then it is advisable to speak to your healthcare professional. Just remember that food should not be introduced before 17 weeks (4 months) as your baby’s kidneys and liver will not be ready. Some signs your baby is ready are: