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Heinz Baby’s Infant Nutritionist, Alessia Grinzato, has the answers

Weaning is an adventure that raises a million-and-one questions. Luckily for you, Heinz Baby’s Infant Nutritionist, Alessia Grinzato, has the answers!

Reader Questions:

1—- Hi! My LO is 8 months old but is having trouble with lumps! He often gags and then throws up after having something too lumpy! Can you suggest any way to help him get past this? Thanks!

Hi! Try not to worry, he will get there! The ‘gag reflux’ is triggered around 6-7 months, the time lumps are introduced. When food hits the back of the tongue it causes the baby to gag to clear the food, but this is not choking. Perseverance is the key.Always check that the lumps are small and soft. I suggest mashing down the lumps so the texture is in-between the puree and lumps. Adding baby pasta to purees is also a great way to get them used to lumps and try also offering finger foods that can help to “desensitize” the tongue: many babies won’t take lumpy foods from a spoon, but will chew quite happily when feeding themselves. Finally, eat together with him, babies love to mimic others and watching you may encourage him.

2—- How much milk should my 6.5 month old be having if on 3 meals a day?

All babies are different and they have different appetites. Breast milk is the best nutritional choice for infants; if your baby is 6.5 months old and is breastfed, keep breastfeeding on demand. Infant formula is the only alternative to breast milk in the first 6 months of your baby’s life. If your baby is bottle-fed, he should have a total of 500-600ml of infant formula or follow-on formula in a 24-hour period. Always check the instructions provided on the pack of formulas and ask your health visitor for more information.

3—- Hi, my son is 6 months old but only likes porridge with apples and trying new things but it’s like he gags on it and I don’t know what to do and what fresh ingredients are good for him ?

Hi, eating food is a huge change for your little one. He has only been used to the taste of milk and now, there’s a whole new world of tastes and textures to explore. Because eating is a new experience, your baby will have to learn how to do it – he’ll need to get used to taking food from a spoon and the feeling of food in his mouth. Don’t worry if he doesn’t take that much food at this stage –each mealtime is a tasting experience. He is still getting most of the nutrients he needs from milk, so don’t be too concerned about how many teaspoons he manages at a time.

This is actually a good way to learn about the world of food, so messy play should be encouraged. To prevent him from choking and to help him to put less in his mouth in one go, maybe try giving him bite sized pieces or small portions, a little at a time.

Some fresh ingredients that you can give him are:

– Soft fruit pieces e.g. mango, melon, banana, soft ripe pear, peach, papaya

– Cooked soft vegetable sticks e.g. carrot sticks, courgette sticks, potato and sweet potato

– Cooked vegetable pieces e.g. cauliflower and broccoli florets

4—- My lo is 9 months old and eats really well, but I’m not sure on what portion sizes to give her, and also she currently has 3 bottles a day, when should I drop one? (She has 3 meals a day)

There is no “set-in-stone” guideline or chart of exactly how many meals of baby food or how many bottles of formula each baby should be receiving. This is simply because each baby is different.

Babies will eat as much food and drink as much breast milk and/or formula as they need. I hear from so many mums who are concerned about whether they are feeding their baby enough or too much. At this age, your little one should receive about 500ml milk a day along with 3 meals and 2 healthy snacks. Speak with your healthcare professional to see if your baby is ready to drop one bottle. All babies are different and they have different appetites. Have a look at some handy meal planners for some ideas on what to feed and how much:

5—- How do you progress from a few spoons of baby rice/puréed veg to something that resembles a meal? Bigger servings/more frequent servings/lumpier textures? I don’t want to do too much too quickly but don’t want to get stuck on the first stage and why does your packaging say from 4 months and yet HV etc say never until 6months it’s very confusing for worried first time mums!

Good foods to start weaning your baby include: baby cereals, such as iron-enriched baby rice, smooth vegetable purée, such as carrot, parsnip, potato or sweet potato, fruit purée, such as mashed up banana, ripe mango or puréed, cooked apple or pear. You can then start to add to these with other foods such as: puréed meat and poultry, puréed chickpeas and lentils, full-fat milk products such as yogurt or fromage frais, unless you have been advised otherwise by your health visitor.

Introduce new food one at a time, and wait at least three days in between. That way you won’t overwhelm your baby, and if there’s an allergic reaction, you’ll be able to identify the culprit. Once your little one has become used to smooth textures and mild tastes, now is the time to gradually move them on to finely mashed foods. It’ll encourage chewing which is important for developing growing muscles, and also speech. In any case, be led by your baby as to how much they would like to eat: if your little one shows signs of being full, then stop – they know when they’ve had enough. Baby food products are the combination of tailored texture, evolving taste complexity and targeted fortification with the aim to create a product range that is best for a baby’s development

For more information, have a look at Heinz Baby website;

Coming to your second question, for term babies, the introduction of solid food should commence ‘at around six months of age’ in line with Department of Health (DH) guidance. Nevertheless, the DH guidelines acknowledge that babies’ individual development varies widely and that some babies may be ready for solid food before, or after, this time. There is agreement in the scientificcommunity that the introduction of solid food should commence no later than six months (26weeks) of age, but not before four months (17 weeks). Each infant should be managed individually as they develop at different rates. Developmental signs of readiness for solid food, together with parental and Healthcare Professional opinion, should be taken into consideration when advising on the ideal age to begin complementary feeding. All Heinz products are in line with the most recent scientific guidelines and the requirements as laid down by the legislation on baby food: they are designed to offer the best for babies whenever they start weaning

6—- My baby used to eat everything when we started weaning but now is getting very fussy and would eat snacks all day long if she could. Is that normal? Her favourite thing is Heinz biscotti apple flavour biscuits!

Almost all babies will go through periods of fussiness. It’s nothing to worry about and it’s good to remember this is a whole new learning experience for your little one. But there are plenty of ways you can help guide her through these challenging times; here’s some tips:

– Make sure she is not filling her tummy with drinks just before a meal, such as milk and anything with added sugar such as fruit cordials or carbonated drinks.

– Babies might also reject something they have enjoyed before if the texture or taste is a bit different – so if they don’t want any more, stop and try again another time.

– Try not to let meal times drag on for too long: babies do not generally continue eating beyond about 20 minutes,

– Keep portions small and include a variety of tastes, textures and colours.

– Try not to get anxious about your baby’s eating habits. Your baby will pick up on your anxieties.

If on the odd occasion your baby does not seem to be eating much, rest assured that if they are gaining weight and seem well, then in the vast majority of cases they are getting as much food as they need. They might have a few fussy days in a row, but there’s no need to worry as long as they’re generally doing well.

7—- If weaning before 6 months, should baby be having plain water alongside milk feeds and solids?

-Milk should be the main drink for babies. However, if you think your baby needs water, especially in the warmer weather, you can give water to your baby if he starts weaning before 6 months. Remember that water given to babies under 6 months should be boiled and cooled first, where as tap water is fine for all infants over 6 months of age. From 6 months of age, infants should be introduced to drinking from a cup or beaker; it is best to use cups that are open-topped or which have a spout that is free-running, so that there is no need to ‘suck’.

8—- My LO is 6 months he is on 3 meals, with morning and afternoon snack, I have started introducing finger food with his meals and for snacks, ideas please for snacks would be great (we currently do breadsticks, rice cakes, toast, mushed up fruit at the minute) thank you.

Here’s some ideas for snacks:

Canned fruit in natural juice

Fresh soft peeled fruit (bananas, pears, peaches, melon)

Unsweetened yogurt with fruit

Frozen, unsweetened yogurt

Frozen fruit

Rice pudding or porridge (with no added sugar or salt)

Baked fruit like apples

Bread rolls, toasted bread, bread sticks, rice cakes, or bagels

Pitta bread and chapatti

Soft fruit such as melon, mango, banana, avocado, peach, or canned fruits in juice (drained)

Heinz Farley’s Rusks help your baby with biting and chewing and try also Heinz biscotti with different flavours!

Remember, it’s always best to supervise your baby while they are eating, just in case they have trouble swallowing or start choking. Have a look at some handy meal planners for some other ideas:

9—- I’ve just been on a first aid course for babies and was told to cut cherry tomatoes and grapes in quarters as its very dangerous to do it in halves, eeeep, I’m still to scared to try my daughter on them.

– You don’t say how old your baby is, so I’m assuming that you are thinking of starting to wean. An infant can start to be able to chew, at least in a rudimentary fashion, at the age of 6-7 months. It is therefore recommended to introduce mashed foods containing soft lumps at around this age.

Suitable textured foods are important for infants and toddlers to assist in the development of a natural chewing action and future speech development. However, their ability to chew and swallow food is under-developed and hence, they are particularly vulnerable to choking episodes. Peel the skin off fruit and veg and remove all bones from fruit & veg. Cut food into small pieces. It’s also important not to leave your child while eating; babies should not eat when lying back or when on the move.

At Heinz we design our products to provide suitable texture for each developmental stage to reduce the risk of choking while promoting the necessary progression from milks to family foods.

10—- My boy is turning 3 in June and he still has his bottle at night. I tried to refuse it, but he screams endlessly until I give in. I have tried water or tea instead of milk but it doesn’t work. Please help!

The bottle is his comfort object which he is very attached to. It can be a difficult time but here are some ideas to ease the process:

– Start talking to him now that he will soon be turning 3 and not a baby anymore. Bottles are for babies and because he is now growing into a boy it is time to give up the bottle. Get him used to the idea that bottles are for babies. Involve him in the decision on a date to stop. Ask him to start practising now to go to bed without the bottle

– Change the routine so he does something else when he would normally have his bottle

– Remind him every day that soon he’s not going to have the bottle anymore. Then hide or remove the bottles from the house and let him see that they’re not around.

– Explain that you understand how hard this change might be for him, but it is something necessary. He can understand your empathy.

– Offer him a reward, such as a snack that he loves, for making it through night without his bottle or, better, replace the bottle with a soothing object. For instance, suggest that he hugs the teddy bear whenever he misses the bottle.

Getting your child off the bottle usually involves some trial and error — and sometimes tears. But here’s the good news: once you decide on a plan and stick with it, you will get results.

11—- How much cow’s milk should my 14 months old girl be having, she doesn’t seem to like it! So I try to add more in cereal, but is that enough? I am still breastfeeding at least 3 times a day, none at night, although she does wake up for it.

– If your child refuses to drink cow’s milk, don’t force her; she can still get the calcium and fat-soluble vitamins that milk provides from other foods.

Toddlers need about 400mg of calcium a day and you can get to it for example with these dairies:

– Full-fat yogurt (70g) provides 140mg calcium.

– Custard (60g) provides 90mg calcium.

– Milk pudding (eg. rice pudding) (90g) provides 120mg calcium.

– A small portion of cheese (15g) provides 120mg calcium.

Remember also that there is calcium in other foods and dishes, so it is not necessary to give 1-4 year olds large quantities of dairies if they don’t drink milk. For instance, Green leafy vegetables, sardines, cheese, tofu are excellent sources of calcium.

12— My baby is 21 weeks today and is exclusively breast fed. I’ve not started her on solids yet as she sleeps for 10 hours at night so feel she must be getting enough to sleep that length at night where with my son is was on solids at 17 weeks?

For term babies, the introduction of solid food should commence ‘at around six months of age’ in line with Department of Health guidance (DH). Nevertheless, the DH guidelines acknowledge that babies’ individual development varies widely and that some babies may be ready for solid food before, or after, this time. There is global agreement in the scientific community that the introduction of solid food should commence no later than six months (26 weeks) of age, but not before four months (17 weeks). Each infant should be managed individually as they develop at different rates. Developmental signs of readiness for solid food, together with parental and Healthcare Professional opinion, should be taken into consideration when advising on the idealage to begin complementary feeding.

13— My LO is 6 1/2 months and having solids for breakfast and lunch, when should they be on 3 meals a day? Thank you – (2 readers asked this question)

All babies are different and they have different appetites. Some may take to solids really quickly and easily and others may take a bit longer. By 7-9 months, most children will probably be eating 3 meals a day, 2 nutritious snacks and 500-600ml of their usual milk a day. Babies are very good at knowing when they’ve had enough to eat. So they will regulate how much they eat to meet their needs for growth and development. When you are feeding, if your baby has had enough, don’t try to force them to eat more, as this can encourage them to eat when they are not hungry. Try not to worry if they eat more some days than others, as over a week or so, this will even out. If your baby is a healthy weight and growing well, there is probably no need to worry.

Have a look at some handy meal planners for some ideas on what to feed and how much:

14— How much of each fruit is counted as 1 of my babies 5 a day? thanks.

There are currently no guidelines on how much a portion of fruit/veg is for children for under 4 years.

Adult portions (5 x 80g) are too large for children, thus it would seem fair to suggest five 40g portions for toddlers. At the beginning of weaning it is difficult for babies to follow the 5 a day rule since they are too young and they are still learning to eat. Variety is most important at this stage. By 2 years they should be eating a variety of fruit and veg at mealtimes. Remember, variety is the key and all fruit and veggies count, whether they’re fresh, frozen or canned (choose no added salt and sugar). Also encourage your kid to eat a rainbow of different coloured fruits and vegetables every day. Not only will they take in key nutrients, they will love the bright colours

15— Baby lead weaning (finger foods from day one no mush) good idea or bad? My LG is just over five months and not ready for feeding herself will she be ready at 6 months or should I just give jars? Xx

Baby-led weaning (BLW) is an approach used by some parents to wean their children directly onto finger foods. This approach skips the purees and mashed textures that typically make up the first few months of the weaning diet.

The belief is that breast milk is the most important source of nutrition for the first 12 months of life. Weaning is encouraged to begin after 6 months of age, when the baby is ready, using solid food such as cooked vegetables, fruit, toast etc. According to BLW, if a baby is not able to eat finger food, then it’s not time to start weaning.

I believe that using both puree and finger foods is a good compromise because it can help you get the balance right and ensure your little one gets the nutrition they need. Just remember all foods pose a choking hazard, so always keep an eye on your baby while they’re eating.

Adopting a BLW approach may then lead to nutritional insufficiency. For instance, a baby’s iron stores have usually been used up by the age of 4-6 months and after this time, a source of iron from the diet is essential. Furthermore all baby food must comply to a very strict legislation which set their nutritional composition as well as the safety characteristics of the raw ingredients. Therefore, I believe, in agreement with recent research in this area, that infants should be encouraged to start feeding themselves with solid food during family meals from the age of 7-8 months when they have a firmer grip; this helps them keep hold of foods like broccoli and develop their hand-to-eye co-ordination. At the same time, they should still be spoon fed purees, progressing with textures (mashed and then lumps) to ensure the diet is nutritionally sufficient.

16— My LO is really enjoying purees and has 3 small meals a day but does not seem to know when he is full as he will just keep eating and eating. Should I let him or continue to just give what I think is enough? No couple of teaspoons to start with for this boy thank you.

I hear from so many mums who are concerned about whether they are feeding their baby enough or too much. Make sure that you have spoken to your healthcare professional about your baby’s weight as children this young should not be put on weight reducing diets. Rather than giving the same portion size every day, I would recommend understanding the signs from your baby that he is full. If you continue to feed your baby when they’ve had enough, this can teach them to eat when they are not hungry. Babies are very good at regulating what they eat so they get enough to grow and develop. You may find your baby needs extra feeds for a day or two before settling down again. Trust yourself to respond to your baby’s needs, know him better than anyone else.

Have a look at some handy meal planners for some ideas on what to feed and how much:

17— Our first two babies weaned brilliantly at 6-7 months. Our 3rd we started at 6 months first as baby led which he didn’t get on with as he didn’t like to chew and just swallowed which obviously caused problems. We went onto pureed and progressed to little lumps and haven’t got any further, he is now almost 14 months and we have to give bits to him to encourage him to chew. We just keep making the bits bigger, hopefully he won’t take too long to get the hang of it.

Baby feeding can be quite challenging! All babies are different and have different appetites. Babies are very good at knowing when they’ve had enough to eat. So they will regulate how much they eat to meet their needs for growth and development. In any case, make sure that you have spoken to your healthcare professional about your baby’s weight and growth.

Here’s some tips: encourage your child to experience different textures through ‘messy’ play every day. Many children who refuse food are very sensitive to touch on the hands and mouth, and messy play helps them to get used to new textures. Give him small frequent meals of foods that your child accepts, so that he can get the energy he needs throughout the day.

18 —How much sugar can my 7 month old have a day?

Sugar provides energy and flavour to food. Giving too many sugary foods such as cakes, biscuits and sweets can damage your baby’s little teeth and “increase” their sweet taste, encouraging them to prefer very sweet foods, which may affect also the long-term health.

Sugar can either be added or be naturally present in ingredients used in recipes. No added sugar does not mean that a recipe is sugar free! There is a big campaign alerting consumers of any age to carefully check the sugar consumption. The World Health Organization has recently recommended to have maximum 10% of the daily energy from free sugar, and aim at reaching a 5%.

There is a big campaign alerting consumers of any age to carefully check the sugar consumption.

Here’s some tips to limit the quantity of sugar in your baby’s diet:

Try not to add sugar when you prepare his foods

Naturally sweet fruits (such as apples or bananas) or vegetables (such as carrots, sweet potatoes

or butternut squash) should be used to sweeten foods rather than adding sugar

Check the ‘added sugar’ and ‘total sugar’ content in yogurts or desserts

Choose baby foods when you can, as the nutritional composition has to comply with a specific legislation which covers baby food

Avoid giving adult products containing artificial sweeteners (these are not permitted in manufactured weaning foods). At Heinz, we strive to keep sugar levels as low as possible, while maintaining the technical requirements and the great taste of Heinz products. When sugar is added, the level is kept as low as possible and always below the legal standards laid down in weaning food legislation.

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