You finally get a routine going with your babies feeding of breast milk or formula milk, then the time comes to introduce solid food and everything changes again.
When to start weaning
In 2003 the Department of Health issued guidelines on weaning. It suggests, at around 6 months is the best time to start introducing solids. The kidneys and guts of babies under 6 months are often not mature enough to cope with a varied diet that weaning would give, therefore this may increase the risks of infection and allergies.
Babies who were born premature (before 37 weeks), may not be ready to wean at 6 months, you should speak to your health visitor for advice.
If you do decide to start weaning before 6 months, NEVER wean before the end of the babies 4th month (17 weeks). And NEVER put solids into your babies milk bottles. Also there are certain foods that should be avoided before 6 months, these include wheat based foods, eggs, shellfish, fish, nuts, seeds and soft and unpasteurized cheeses.
Your babies may be ready for weaning when:
- They can sit up and hold their head well
- Appear to want to chew and put objects in their mouth
- They can co-ordinate eyes, hands and mouth
- They reach out and grab objects (food)
Equipment needed to start weaning twins
- Highchairs (x 2) they are comfortable in (you may prefer to use a bumbo to start with, I found bumbos very useful) – Bear in mind when choosing highchairs how much space you need for 2 highchairs. For my twins I bought 2 table seats instead of highchairs as they did not take up any floor space, I would recommend them. I would also say, you really don’t need to spend a lot of money on expensive highchairs unless you really want to, as the cheaper ones are just as good, if not better sometimes.
- Baby spoons – soft tipped
- Bowls - later on when they start to feed themselves, I found suction bowls the best eg vital baby, as the floor ends up seeing rather a lot of the food otherwise.
- Cups with lids – there are so many different types of cup out there, you need to try them to see which your babies prefer (mine were all different)
- A large plastic mat/cover for the floor. I found buying a large plastic tablecloth the best for this, as the mats you buy especially for the floor, are not big enough!
- Bibs- Plastic backed bibs, sleeved and scoop type bibs I found the best.
- Hand blender
- Ice cube trays or weaning pots (and a good freezer?!)
- A book on weaning
- Baby rice and lots of fruit and veg
Starting to wean
So you are ready to start weaning, here are some tips on how to begin:
- Choose 1 meal a day to start, until they get the hang of it, often late morning is good
- Introduce a simple food such as baby rice (you can find baby rice in any supermarket)
- Use rubber tipped spoons (they are softer for your baby’s mouth)
- Don’t be surprised if they push the food out to start with, they are used to sucking not chewing and not used to moving food from the front of the mouth to the back.
- Just introduce 2-3 teaspoonfuls at first until they get used to it, then increase the amount according to how much they take.
- Once they are used to 1 taste, you can start introducing different tastes, eg pureed (to a smooth consistency) apple or pear or butternut squash and then just keep increasing the different flavours and then add another mealtime in too etc, until eventually they are taking 3 meals a day before their milk feed.
- Remember – babies between 6-9 months still need 500-600mls (16-20oz) a day of breast milk or formula milk.
- Once your babies are taking fruit and veg well, you can start to introduce protein, eg chicken, meat or fish.
- For information on weaning babies, please visit the health promotion agancy
My personal tips for weaning twins
- Baby cook books – I found the whole process of weaning my children quite daunting and I was not looking forward to it, but on reflection it really was not that bad. I bought a few good books on baby weaning and used them as a very good guide and found them great for ideas of recipes.
- Also another great place for recipe ideas is the internet, eg www.netmums.com/family-food/weaning-guide
- Cook batches – I used to cook batches of food, pureed it using a hand blender, then froze it in ice-cube trays. Then each day I could go to the freezer and just take out however many ice cubes of food I would need for each meal (x 2 obviously for twins!). This made life so much easier. The only trouble with twins is that, your freezer stock goes down incredibly fast! So I warn you it does take a fair bit of cooking.
- If I was cooking something for us, I would cook extra vegetables, so I had some spare I could blend up and freeze, this helped with trying to keep up with the quantities twins need.
- Use jars if needed – When I went out, I took jars out with me, as it is so much easier to manage and warm up etc. Don’t feel bad if you need to use jars of baby food sometimes. It takes a lot of time to cook every meal for twins.
- Sharing - Sit babies side by side. Lots of people recommend using 1 bowl and 1 spoon to feed twins which would make it easier and quicker. However, I could never bring myself to do that, firstly because, I wanted to know how much each twin had eaten and secondly I didn’t like them sharing a spoon (even though I know they constantly suck the same toys etc?).
- Bibs - Always use plastic backed bibs. Weaning is a very messy business! After the start of weaning, when they start trying to use the spoon themselves and finger food, I found the best bibs were a long-sleeved bib with a plastic scoopy kind of bib over the top. It may sound excessive, but it saved me a lot of washing!!
- Slow cooker- Once they are eating meals similar to yours (just with less salt etc), I used to cook extra for us in the slow cooker and take out a portion for the babies, blend and freeze before adding spices etc to ours, this meant I didn’t have to cook twice. The slow cooker makes the meat very tender which is fantastic for weaning.
Weaning can be hard work and really try your patience, however, it is also very exciting seeing their faces when they try something new (good or bad) and watching them progress onto more solid foods and enjoy food. Try to stay calm, as your babies will pick up on any anxiety you have about the food and allow them to experiment. It may not be easy at times, but it will not last forever.