At Little People Store we know that the transition from milk to solid food can be a scary experience. But a new initiative from the NHS to support parents to safely introduce their babies to solid food is being launched, through a government campaign Start for Life. They've launched an online hub filled with advice and easy recipes to help parents to make nutritious food for their baby, alongside lots of tips on essential topics like food allergies, food hygiene and avoiding choking in order to wean your baby safely.
Weaning is such a key milestone as it teaches babies to move food around their mouth, chew and swallow, and also influences children’s eating habits for better health later in life.
The new campaign highlights there are clear signs that mean your baby is ready for solid food:
1. If they can stay in a sitting position
2. If your baby can hold their head steady
It also includes information on when to begin introducing solid foods alongside breastmilk or first infant formula, why it’s important to wait until your baby is around 6 months old and what to feed babies at each stage.
The baby weaning campaign comes as a new survey has found that half of parents in England were confused about how much to feed their baby and what age to start weaning, with many saying they had received conflicting advice on both points fro health professional. It also found that nearly half of parents were influenced by behaviours that can be mistaken by parents as signs that their baby is ready for solid foods, such as seeing their baby grabbing food or looking at food.
The survey also found that nearly half of parents believed that solid foods should be introduced at around 5 months or earlier but, according to NHS guidance, it is recommended to gradually introduce solid foods from around 6 months - alongside breast milk or infant formula. This is because it gives babies time to develop properly so they can cope with eating solid foods.
Breast milk or first infant formula provides everything that babies need for healthy development for the first 6 months. When babies are around 6 months old, they start to need solid foods as well as breast milk or first infant formula to meet their nutritional needs.
With more than 1 in 4 children being overweight when they reach school age, according to the latest National Child Measurement Programme data, the Better Health Start for Life ‘introducing solid foods’ campaign supports parents to develop their children’s healthy eating habits at the earliest stage.
Child nutritionist, Charlotte Stirling Reed recommends to start with single vegetables and fruits that are mashed or blended. And that preparing food from scratch is the easiest and cheapest way to create healthier meals for children.
GP Dr Helen Lawal said:
Weaning is a crucial milestone in the first 1,001 critical days of a baby’s life; however, today’s research results are showing that almost half of parents are introducing solid foods to their babies too early.