It’s natural to have lots of questions when it comes to feeding your baby. Here are some of the most common questions about weaning we come across:
- Which milk should I feed and when now that I have started weaning?
Babies should continue to have breastmilk or formula until they are at least 12 months old.
After that time you may change over to ordinary (cows') milk - but use whole (full-fat) milk (preferably organic) - do not use semi-skimmed or skimmed milk.
Semi-skimmed milk isn't suitable as a drink for children under two (but you can introduce it from this age if your child is a good eater and has a varied diet)
Skimmed milk should not be used for children under five years old.
- How can I tell that my baby is eating enough?
Obviously all babies are different and not all babies at the same age will be able to eat the same amount of food at mealtimes or the same amount of milk. Be guided by your baby and feed the quantities you feel they need to satisfy their appetite and to maintain a steady weight gain.
As long as your baby is well, wetting and filling nappies regularly and is putting on weight steadily, it’s likely they’re eating and drinking enough for the stage they are at. If you have any questions about how much to feed your baby, it’s best to speak to your health visitor. For more advice, watch Helen's video below.
- My baby is constipated - what should I do?
Some babies may appear to become slightly constipated during weaning as the amount of milk they drink decreases as they start to eat more food. The first thing to do is make sure your baby is drinking well and that they are eating fruit and vegetables regularly.
You can offer wholewheat products (such as wholemeal bread, beans, lentils and whole cereals) to your baby from 6 months but avoid giving them in large amounts. They’re too bulky and may reduce your baby's energy intake. Similarly, don’t give bran to babies and children under 5 years as the bulkiness can impair their absorption of vital nutrients from their food.
Helen offers some advice on what to do if your baby is constipated in her video below.
If your baby still appears constipated after making any of these changes, talk to your health visitor or doctor.
- Is a vegetarian diet suitable for my baby?
Babies can be weaned onto a vegetarian diet but it is important to check they are getting enough energy and iron and not too much fibre.
They should be getting two servings per day of pulses (such as red lentils, beans and chick peas), tofu, soya pieces or well-cooked egg. Food and drink containing vitamin C, such as fruits, vegetables and fruit juices, should be offered at these meals to ensure your baby absorbs the iron from these foods.
Vitamin drops, providing vitamins A, C and D, should be given to babies on a vegetarian weaning diet.
Take care when giving children a vegan diet. Young children need a good variety of foods to provide the energy and vitamins they need for growth. A vegan diet can be bulky and high in fibre. This can mean that children get full up before they’ve taken in enough calories. Because of this, they may need extra supplements. Ask a dietitian or doctor for advice before introducing your child to solids.
Have a look at Helen's advice on weaning your baby on a vegetarian or vegan diet in her video below.
- When should I start brushing my baby's teeth?
Start brushing your baby's teeth as soon as they appear, using a small soft brush and a pea-sized amount of baby toothpaste. If your baby won’t let you use a toothbrush, try putting a small amount of toothpaste onto a soft cloth to start with. It’s important to start good dental hygiene early to help your baby have good healthy teeth. For more advice, watch Helen's video below.
- Why does my baby need iron in their diet?
Babies are born with inbuilt stores of the iron they need for good health, but this iron gets used up by the time they are about 6 months. So make sure you give your baby foods containing iron, along with vitamin C-rich foods to help them absorb all the iron in their meal.
- Does my baby need extra vitamins?
If your baby is having 500ml of infant formula a day, you don't need to start giving vitamins (because infant formula already contains added vitamins and minerals).
However, if your baby is over six months and still being breastfed (or having less than 500ml of infant formula) you could start giving them vitamin drops containing vitamins A, C and D.
- Which foods are most likely to cause allergies?
If there is a history of allergies in your baby's close family, such as asthma or eczema, you should speak to your GP, health visitor or allergy specialist before giving peanut products such as peanut butter or groundnut (peanut) oil.
Other foods most likely to cause food allergies are: milk, egg, wheat and other cereals containing gluten (e.g. rye, barley), nuts, seeds, fish and shellfish.
- Passing intolerances
Some babies react a little when they eat certain foods - they may have a tummy upset or develop a rash around the mouth where the food has been in contact. This can be just a ‘transient' intolerance and often goes away in the course of time.
- What is gluten?
Gluten is just an everyday protein that is found in wheat, rye and barley. Avoid these cereals, or foods containing them, e.g. pasta, bread, wheat breakfast cereals, rusks, until your baby is at least 6 months.
Young babies may be sensitive to gluten, so it's thought best to wait until babies are 6 months or more before giving any foods containing it.
All ready-made baby foods give full information on the pack about when they can be given and whether they contain gluten.
- My baby refuses to eat lumpy food - what can I do?
Once your baby has learned to take smooth foods from a spoon, it is important to move on to foods with different textures. Babies are usually able to cope with lumpier foods from about 7 months. Offering mashed foods containing soft lumps is important at this stage as it encourages chewing which helps with the development of the muscles involved in speech.
Babies don't always like the lumps at first and may spit them out or appear to gag on them. It can take a while for a baby to learn to control the lumps in their mouth, and they may spit them out or cough them back for more chewing. This is normal and does not mean they are choking.
However there is always the possibility of choking so never leave your child alone when he is eating. If you suspect your baby may be choking please follow the NHS advice.
- Why is vitamin and mineral content not listed on HiPP products?
Vitamins and minerals cannot be added to organic baby foods (with the exception of thiamin in cereal-based foods and vitamin C in some fruit juices) as the Organic Food Regulations will not allow them to be added.
Therefore, the only vitamins and minerals present in the foods are those found naturally in the ingredients used in each variety. We use manufacturing methods that aim to retain as much of these as possible, by using the minimum amount of water necessary to cook the ingredients and the shortest cooking time possible. In this way you can be certain that many of the naturally-occurring nutrients are retained, and the losses are far less than would be found with home-cooking.
Although we do not list these values on the labels, this doesn't mean there are none in the products.
- How can your products have such a long shelf life but not contain any artificial preservatives?
The food in our jars is sterilised within vacuum-sealed jars, and this sterilisation ensures that no food spoilage will occur through growth of bacteria or moulds. The integrity of the vacuum seal therefore guarantees the quality of our products.
This same guarantee of food safety could not be achieved if you tried to preserve home-cooked baby foods. If vegetable or fruit purees were put in jars at home, there would still be air in the jar, which could result in the growth of microorganisms such as moulds in the food.
Also, you would not be able to achieve the same high temperatures during the heat preservation stage as we do this under pressure.
- How much fruit and veg should my baby be eating?
Read our guide to fruit and veg portions.
- What is omega 3?
Omega 3 unsaturated fats play an essential role in the body. They are an important component of the eyes and brain and so are very important during the rapid visual and neurological development that occurs during infancy.
We have added rapeseed oil to our stage 1, 2 & 3 savoury jars*, which is a vegetarian source of omega 3. Rapeseed oil provides a source of alpha-linolenic acid, which is converted to omega 3 in the body. Each jar contains at least 25% of your babies recommended daily intake of ALA (RDA = 0.39g per day for 4-12 month olds).
*except tender carrots & potatoes and pasta in a ham & tomato sauce
- Can I freeze HiPP Organic baby foods?
Although we do not widely recommend freezing our products, as inevitably there are hygienic risks in handling and defrosting products, which in our view should be avoided as far as possible - it is technically possible, providing all hands and utensils are thoroughly cleaned beforehand, and the food is defrosted slowly in the refrigerator.
We would recommend for just fruits and vegetables to use within 3 months, but if the products contain milk or other perishable ingredients (meat, poultry) use within a month.