Weaning can be an anxious time for new mums. When to start, what to feed, there can be so many questions. The good news is Ireland’s National Weaning Week, which runs from 3rd to 9th May is here to help. Parenting expert, Laura Erskine shares some of the advice and tips she has gleaned from working with child development, nutrition and feeding experts, not to mention her own experience with three little ones.
Laura says that the key to raising a healthy happy eater is all about inclusion and making every mealtime a family affair. "We know that including children at your mealtimes helps them to not only learn how to feed themselves, but they are also much more likely to try new foods. This is because our little ones are our greatest mimics, so their feeding skills and food acceptance will accelerate dramatically just by being included at the table."
With so many aspects to weaning, it can be hard to know if you’re doing everything right. There’s the child development aspect and whether you are supporting your child to meet those early fine and gross motor skill milestones. Then there is the cooking with confidence for your weaning baby and finally the practical aspect of whether they have all the right equipment to give them the best start.
Ollwyn Moran, Child Development Expert and Founder of Cognikids.com
"The weaning stage isn't just about introducing your baby to their first foods, it’s full of opportunities to develop fine motor skills and co-ordination. While weaning also offers developmental opportunities for the muscles in your little one's jaw and mouth for speech. In order to support parents in helping their little ones to meet some of their key developmental milestones, I developed a Cognikids weaning cup and spoon. My Sip cup has a wide base and narrow middle to limit spills. It also has an outer grip for little fingers. While my Dip spoon helps to develop grip, co-ordination and self-feeding."
Vicki O'Callaghan, Co-founder of BabyBoo.ie
"Weaning my little girl was the best fun and honestly my favourite part of the first two years of her development. It was one experience we could both enjoy together. I found that the traditional style catch-all bib didn't feel comfortable around Ruby's neck with her eczema flare-ups. And following some mum research, I found that I wasn't alone. Some children just didn't like to wear a bib and would pull it off. That's why I designed our YummyBoo bib to feel like a second layer of clothing. It's organic cotton so it’s great for sensitive skin and has a waterproof middle layer to protect clothes."
Siobhan Berry, Founder of Mummycooks.com
"It's easy to include your baby in your family meals from pasta dishes to a full Sunday roast dinner, all you need is just a few simple adaptations. You can shave off a slice of the roast meat joint give it to your baby as a finger food from six months. While you can also blend some of the roasted vegetables into a purée to offer as a dip. It's important to note that commercial and even homemade gravies can be quite salty. Too much salt can damage a baby's growing kidneys. All of my family recipes can be adapted for baby, while any surplus is easily stored in the fridge or freezer in one of my Mummycooks portion pots."
Infant Feeding Essentials:
Check out these key pieces of feeding equipment produced by Irish businesses, to help first-time parents on their journey to raising healthy happy eaters:
The YummyBoo three-layer machine washable coverall feeding bib is a lifesaver. The inner layer next to your baby's skin is 100% organic cotton, the middle layer is waterproof and the outer layer is cotton rich towelling. It has a pocket at the front that you can open or close using popper fastenings, depending on whether you want to collect stray nibbles or cover more of your child's clothing. See www.BabyBoo.ie.
The Cognikids weaning Dip pre-spoon supports both baby-led weaning, while also allowing the carer to spoon feed if a combined method is desired. With extensive holes for the child to grip and designed to be easy to hold, the Dip spoons helps develop the pincer grip and builds muscles in the hands of children. This encourages independent feeding along with developing excellent hand eye co-ordination and fine motor skills. Created by paediatric neuro-development expert, the pre-spoon has a unique flat head which means there is no right way or wrong way for the baby to hold it. While a unique little nodule at the top of the head is specifically designed to trigger the suck reflex. See Cognikids.com.
Weaning is not just about food, it's also the time when they are learning the oral motor skills of eating and drinking from different cups. The Sip is an open top Sip cup with outer grip to help babies as young as six months to learn how to sip, progressing from the suck action they are born with. The outer grip helps babies to develop their fine motor skills and makes it easier for them to pick up the cup even if their hands are wet or slimy from exploring their food. See Cognikids.com.
Recipe Book & Portion Pots
All the meals in the Mummycooks recipe book are designed to be cooked for the family and adapted for baby, no matter what stage they're at. Written by mum of two and accredited weaning expert, Siobhan's straightforward yet delicious recipes will be enjoyed by your family for many years to come. While batch-cooking is a cinch with the Mummycooks BPA free, microwave, freezer and dishwasher safe portion pots. See Mummycooks.com.
For those about to embark on their weaning journey, a new starter Weaning Bundle has been launched by Cork mum-run baby retailer BabyBoo.ie with all the essentials, and all Irish brands too! The weaning bundle is priced at €75 from BabyBoo.ie and includes: BabyBoo Feeding Bibs, Cognikids Sip Cups, Accessories4Babies Feeding Plate & Pal, and a Mummycooks Portion Pots Starter Set.
The BabyBoo Weaning Bundle is priced at €75 from BabyBoo.ie.