Stage 1 weaning – veggie fun
Advice on how to start your little one’s weaning journey with first weaning foods, including signs to tell if your little one is hungry
At a glance
Weaning ‘vegetables first’ helps to set up healthy food preferences for life
Introduce single flavours so your baby learns what each vegetable tastes like
Remember it can take up to 8 tries for your baby to accept a new flavour so don’t give up!
Go at your baby’s pace and stop when they’ve had enough
Begin with vegetables alongside your baby's usual milk until your little one is ready to move onto other foods. Weaning with vegetables exclusively for the first two weeks gives the best chance for healthy eating habits in later life.
When to start weaning
It is recommended to start with stage 1 weaning at around 6 months. For your first feed, pick a time when your baby isn’t tired and you’re not in a rush. It may take a while for your baby to get used to taking food from a spoon, so patience is a must. Try following these simple steps:
- Your baby is hungrier and more alert first thing, so it’s a good time for new foods
- Sit baby upright in a high chair with no distractions, like TV, mobiles or tablets
- Give them a little of their usual milk first to relax them and take the edge off their hunger
- Serve food lukewarm or at room temperature
- Only try one new food at a time, combining flavours after a couple of weeks and praise them for trying something new
Is your baby hungry?
Responsive feeding is all about looking out for your baby’s hunger and fullness cues. Using your baby’s cues as a guide for feeding them during meal times will help make sure that they’re receiving the right amount of food for them.
You will soon get to know your baby’s 'hungry' and 'full' cues, but some hunger signs to look out for are; leaning forward, opening their mouth, sucking their fists, and finally crying and fussing! When your little one is full they may get distracted, slow or stop eating, turn their head away or fall asleep whilst eating. Your baby will let you know when they have had enough or when they are hungry so let them guide you.
- Babies have little tummies and need lots of calories for growth - so give them full-fat versions of milk and dairy products
- Fibre leaves less room for more nutritious food so avoid giving them too much
- Go at your baby’s pace and stop when they show you they’ve had enough
Why should vegetables be the first weaning foods?
Recent evidence highlights the importance of weaning with vegetables first to set up healthy food preferences and eating behaviours later on. We’re all born with an innate preference for sweet flavours, this is why your little one is more likely to accept carrot compared to spinach or broccoli.
How to wean with vegetables first
- Try to introduce a new single bitter vegetable every day, e.g. broccoli, parsnip, beetroot, courgette, asparagus, and kale for one week. Then repeat this process for the second week
- If you’re exclusively breastfeeding, also introduce beans and pulses, such as chickpeas or lentils to provide iron
- Don’t be disheartened if your baby initially rejects the vegetable. It’s not that they don’t like it they’re just often surprised when being introduced to new flavours. It can take up to 8 tries for your baby to get used to a new flavour, so don’t give up
- Try not to add anything to the vegetables, they are tasty on their own, so avoid adding any salt or sugar as these are not recommended for babies
- After two weeks of stage 1 weaning, then move on to stage 2
The role of milk
Milk should still be the main source of nutrition for your baby as they’re only eating small portions of vegetables, so they still need nutrients from milk.
If your baby is over six months and you want to move on from breast milk, SMA® PRO Follow-on Milk is specially designed to complement the weaning diet and is fortified with nutrients such as iron, vitamin D, calcium and Omega 3 & 6†. Inspired by our research into natures wonderful nutrients SMA® PRO Follow-on Milk now also contains 2’FL which is structurally identical to the most abundant oligosaccharide found in breast milk.
Remember, if your baby is having less than 500 ml of formula a day, they should be receiving daily vitamin drops containing vitamins A, C and D.
† beneficial effect of essential fatty acids is obtained with a daily intake of 10 g of linoleic acid and 2 g of α-linolenic acid.
Moving from bottle to beaker
Slowly replace bottles with cups, doing so one at a time. Try to ensure that your baby only uses beakers or cups by the time they are 12 months old.
Aside from milk, try to only give your baby water or diluted fruit juice (one part juice to ten parts water) at mealtimes. Encourage them to drink throughout the day, and if possible in an upright position in order to support good drinking habits.
How can I feed my baby when eating out?
As you become more confident with feeding your baby, you’ll want to enjoy family time out and about. Try a picnic – there’s a lot less to clean up compared to indoors. Here are some tips for stress-free meals on the go:
- Plan the day before. Shop for food, lay out clothes and pack a bag, so you can have a leisurely start and set off relaxed
- Prepare your own picnic so your baby gets only nutritious foods
- Keep food fresh by using an insulated bag with a freezer pack
- Babies drop spoons on a regular basis, so pack spares
- Bring a change of clothes as well as lots of wipes and kitchen roll in case it gets messy
- 200ml SMA® PRO Follow-on Milk cartons are ready to use and convenient for when you’re out and about with your little one
IMPORTANT NOTICE: The best way to feed a baby is to breastfeed, as breast milk provides the ideal balanced diet and protection against illness for your baby and also many non-nutritional benefits for both baby and mother. We recommend that you speak to your healthcare professional when deciding on your choice of feeding your baby. Professional guidance should also be sought on the preparation for and maintenance of breastfeeding. If you do choose to breastfeed, it's important to eat a healthy, balanced diet. Infant formula is intended to replace breast milk when mothers choose not to breastfeed or if for some reason they are unable to do so. A decision not to breastfeed, or to introduce partial bottle-feeding, will reduce the supply of breast milk. If for any reason you choose not to breastfeed, do remember that such a decision can be difficult to reverse. SMA® PRO Follow-on Milk is only suitable for babies over 6 months as part of a mixed diet. It should not be used as a substitute for breast milk during the first six months. The decision to start weaning or to use this product before six months, should be made only on the advice of a doctor, midwife, health visitor, public health nurse, dietitian or pharmacist, based on baby’s individual needs.