It's time to introduce iron rich meat and chunkier textures to your baby, so just how should you do it?
By seven months old, your baby is likely to be enjoying a rainbow of different fruit and veg purees, and be keen to try some new tastes. So just how do you move on to the next stage of weaning? Well, now is a good time to start introducing meat to your baby. Beyond six months, the stores of nutrients that your baby was born with begin to run out, and one of the first to be depleted is iron. A lack of iron can, long-term, lead to anaemia, so it’s important to replace your baby’s iron stores with the food she eats. Meat is one of the best sources.
If your baby has so far only been given runny purees, the texture of meat can be a challenge for her. To get her used to the new sensation, start by combining very small amounts of well-cooked and thoroughly blended meat with one of her favourite purees. Chicken is the ideal first meat to try – tender and mild in flavour – and combines surprisingly well with sweet purees like apricot.
As with all stages of weaning, getting used to both meat and lumps is a matter of trial and error for you and your baby, so keep experimenting: the sooner your tot gets used to these new tastes and textures, the sooner you can move her onto family meals – which means less batch-cooking and blending for you.
Giving your baby a food rich in vitamin C (such as citrus fruit or peppers) at the same time as a meat-based meal will help maximise the iron her body absorbs.
Many mums worry about the risk of choking when they introduce lumpy foods to their babies. It’s very common for little ones to gag on solids, but while this can be frightening to see, it’s actually a safety reflex that forces the food out before your baby starts to choke. In 99 per cent of cases, babies are able to sort themselves out when they start to gag, so stay calm and wait a few seconds to see what happens. If she does seem to be choking, pick her up, lie her along your forearm or thigh facing downwards and give her five firm slaps between the shoulders. This is likely to clear the obstruction.
Some foods are renowned as choking hazards, particularly hard finger foods and smaller fruits like grapes and raisins. These should be cut into small pieces to reduce the risk. And it goes without saying that your baby should never be left unsupervised while eating. But you can also help her learn to chew by giving her foods and toys that help develop her facial muscles, making choking less likely.
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