Weaning 101

COLLAB weaning is a collaborative effort between healthcare professionals, the parent and the baby.

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The start of your baby’s weaning journey will have significant implications for their health and their emotional development, as well as playing a role in preventing feeding disorders. Science tells us that the first 1 001 days (pregnancy to two years of age) have a dramatic impact not only on your child’s whole life but on the next generation as well. This is true for brain development – a baby needs to be stimulated. It is true for emotional wellbeing – a baby needs to be loved. It is true for health – a baby needs a nutritious diet. But your baby’s feeding journey impacts on way more than just health – its affects their entire person. As a parent, this knowledge brings with it a heavy weight of responsibility. It is no wonder decisions at this time can feel overwhelming. Transitioning from an exclusive milk diet to solid food raises many questions: When is the right time? How will I know when my baby is ready? Exactly what should I be offering my baby as a first food?
 
A new book, Weaning Sense by Meg Faure and Kath Megaw brings you a fresh, innovative approach to feeding babies. One that is perfect for all babies and their moms: COLLAB weaning. Weaning in its ideal form should be a collaboration between the advisors who guide you, yourself, your wishes and personality and, of course, your baby. And that’s where COLLAB weaning comes in. Collaboration, by definition, suggests the action of working with someone, or with a group of people, to realise something successfully.
 
A new way of parenting
COLLAB weaning is a team approach to the early introduction of solids. It is an approach that considers your baby as central to the process – her age, development and sensory personality. It encourages moms to guide their babies in the context of these factors as well as science and what we know about healthy eating. So while you may manage the choices, they are made in the context of your baby. Very importantly, COLLAB weaning takes the pressure off you and your baby, allowing you to write your own weaning story.
 
COLLAB is an acronym that will become a way of parenting for you. It stands for:
 
Cues: Recognising and respecting your baby’s cues for readiness will guide you as to when your baby is ready to wean. Your baby will also give very clear cues within each feeding session (for hunger and fullness) and respecting these cues, interpreting them for your baby and offering food (or stopping a meal) in the context of these cues is the most critical contribution you can make to ensure your child has a healthy relationship with food; and in the long term, preventing obesity. It is only by understanding your little one’s cues that you can wean collaboratively (chapter 2).
 
Own person: Your baby is her own person and will not wean like the baby next door. Some babies engage with new textures with gusto, while others need a blander and slower route to whole foods. Knowing your baby’s sensory personality is the secret to weaning happily. Using the information in chapter 3, you will identify your baby’s sensory personality and learn how that personality engages with food and the weaning process.
 
Low pressure: There is enough pressure on moms to follow a pattern, conform and achieve. Weaning is not a race. Weaning is not a competition. Weaning is a journey, not a destination. Take the pressure off yourself and off your little one.
 
Led by science: While it would be wonderful to entirely ‘wing’ parenting, in the face of decades of valuable research we have to consider the science to be sensible. Sensible feeding involves filtering noise and opinion and understanding what dietary science tells us about early infant feeding. This does not create rules for weaning, but safe boundaries within which to work. The knowledge of early infant feeding that we have gained through science and research is revealed in depth in chapter 4.
 
Age appropriate: Research can and does guide us towards the age at which babies are best weaned. It is certainly not a certain week of life, for example, week 17 or 24, as is commonly presented. It is rather a window period of around four months in which sensible weaning should begin. Knowing the science and the age, you can then be led by your baby’s interest and personality, and will know when to get going and what to offer first. You can learn more about this in chapter 5.
 
Baby-friendly: As your little one grows, they develop self-regulation, which is the ability to manage their own physiology, emotions and behaviour. Feeding is one area where self-regulation can be mastered. Being baby-friendly is all about facilitating baby’s own self-mastery in all areas, including feeding, right through the toddler years. It is the best way to prevent fussy toddler eating. This is discussed in chapter 6.
 
Teamwork makes the journey better
Your baby will not lead the process of weaning, but neither will your healthcare professional. Science, knowledge and advice create a basis, but the exact journey involves teamwork between you and your baby. As with all wonderful journeys in life, it involves collaboration. COLLAB weaning will influence not only the way to wean your baby, but also many other aspects of your parenting path, making parenting your little one a sensational journey, the respectful nurturing of a life for long-term physical and emotional health.
 
About the book
Weaning Sense, Meg Faure and Kath Megaw’s new book, is a scientific approach to the introduction of solids, taking into account your baby’s individual personality. It is published by Quivertree and is available at all leading bookstores for R320. 

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