Qualification: NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Educator
Unit: Unit 1.1: Support healthy lifestyles for children through the provision of food and nutrition
Learning outcome: Understand the nutritional needs of children
Assessment criteria: Explain how to plan a weaning programme.
Weaning is the process of gradually introducing solid foods into a baby’s diet, while reducing their reliance on milk. A weaning programme is a plan that supports a baby to transition to solid foods. Information about weaning has already been covered in the previous section.
Some other things to bear in mind when planning a weaning programme include:
- When to start weaning? The World Health Organisation recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life. After this, solid foods can be introduced gradually from around six months old.
- What foods to introduce? Start with simple, mashed or pureed foods and progress to more complex textures and flavours as your baby grows.
- How much food to give? Babies will usually eat small amounts to begin with and their appetite will increase as they get used to solid foods.
- How often to feed? At first, it is common to start with one or two meals per day and then increase this as your baby grows.
- What if my baby doesn’t like certain foods? Don’t worry if your baby refuses certain foods, just try again another time. It can take a few attempts for babies to get used to new tastes and textures.
- Are there any foods to avoid? There are a few foods that should be avoided during weaning, such as honey ( which can contain bacteria that can cause botulism in young babies), whole nuts (which can pose a choking hazard) and unpasteurised milk (which can contain bacteria that can cause food poisoning).