It is always a good idea to talk to your GP or health visitor if you are not sure if your baby is ready for solid food. There are 3 accepted clear signs that if seen together indicate your baby may be ready to start solids alongside their formula milk. They are:
• Can hold their head up and sit up? Your baby needs to be able to maintain a steady, upright position, to take their first foods.
• Have they developed basic eye to hand coordination? Your baby needs to be able to look at the food, pick it up and put it in their mouth all by themselves.
• Can your baby swallow food? Babies who are not ready for solid food will use their tongue to push it back out of their mouths.
Other general signs to watch out for include:
• Is your baby curious about what you’re eating? Is your baby eyeing your meals and reaching out to try foods you’re moving from your plate to your mouth?
• Is your baby making chewing motions? Your baby should be able to move food to the back of their mouth and swallow. As your baby learns to swallow efficiently you may notice that they dribble less. Your baby may even have a tooth or two.
• Has your baby gained a healthy weight? Most babies are ready to eat semi-solids when they’ve doubled their birth weight. This may happen before or around their sixth month.
Remember, none of these signs on their own mean your baby is ready for solid food. Try looking at the NHS website for further advice, including ideas about how to get started and first foods.
If you are HIV positive the current advice for people living in the UK is for you to use formula milk to feed your baby. This is because there is a risk of your baby becoming infected with HIV through your breast milk. You can find further advice and guidelines at the British HIV Association website.
The tern ‘weaning’ means introducing your baby to solid foods. There’s no right or wrong time to wean, however current NHS guidance states that it’s safer for your baby if you wait until they are at least six months old to introduce them to solids. This is because their digestive system needs time to develop fully so that it can cope with solid food. It also means that there is less chance of them picking up an infection from food, as their digestive system is more mature or of having a bad reaction to food, as their immune system is stronger. If you feel your baby is hungry for food earlier than six months, it’s worth offering extra milk first, or perhaps trying out a different formula. Your GP or health visitor will be able to give you advice should you be worried.
However hungry your baby seems, keep them on just milk until the end of their fourth month (17 weeks). If you decide to start giving them solids before 6 months make sure you get advice from your health visitor, GP or look at the NHS website for foods to avoid to help prevent food allergies.
To begin with, how much your baby eats is less important than getting them used to the idea of eating solid food. They will still be getting most of their nutrition from infant formula. Babies don’t need three meals a day to start with, so you can begin by offering foods at a time that suits you both.
You might like to try offering food to your baby before or after a milk feed, or in the middle of a feed if it works better. If the food is hot, make sure you stir, cool and test it on the inside of your wrist before giving it to your baby. It may take your baby a while to get used to these new flavours. You can make the food a little blander by mixing it with a few teaspoons of your baby’s milk.
Some babies prefer to feed themselves with finger foods from the beginning of weaning, rather than to be spoon-fed. Whichever they prefer, remember to always stay with them when they are eating in case they choke. At about seven to nine months, most babies are ready for finger foods cut into bite-sized bits but remember to still always stay with your baby when they are eating because there is still a risk of choking. Some ideal finger foods for this stage are: tender cooked carrots and sweet potatoes, cooked pasta shapes, ripe bananas, bread or toast and fruit such as pear or melon. Finger foods encourage your baby to chew, even if they don’t have teeth. Your baby will suck or bite the food using their gums and this also helps speech muscles to develop. Cutting finger foods into stick-shapes makes it easier for your baby to pick up and hold.
The NHS website has further guidance on first foods and next steps.
Ideally once they are eating solids you would aim for your baby to get used to your pattern of eating, for example 3 meals a day and a few healthy snacks. Feed your baby a little at a time and try giving them the same variety of foods that you and your family usually eat. This will help them to be less fussy in their eating habits later on, is a cheaper alternative than bought baby food and ensures that you know what has gone into their food. Try and give them a variety from the four main food groups: fruit and vegetables; bread, rice, potatoes, pasta; milk and dairy foods; meat, fish, eggs, beans. It’s best to avoid sugar, salt and very fatty foods or very hot, spicy foods. Some babies enjoy mildly spiced foods, but they can’t tolerate highly spiced foods to start with.
Give your baby sips of water from a cup or beaker at mealtimes. If you give your baby fruit juice, keep it to mealtimes only, and dilute it well. Add one part juice to 10 parts water. Try not to use food as a bribe or reward. Instead, give your baby plenty of hugs, kisses and attention. The NHS website has a suggested list of the types of food your baby’s diet should consist of.
Yes. You will find that solid foods make your baby’s poo change colour and smell different. The NHS website advises that if you notice a marked change of any kind such as the poos becoming very smelly, very watery or harder, particularly if there’s blood in them, you should speak to your doctor or health visitor straight away.
Babies will start to sleep through the night at different ages. By the time your child is six months old, it’s reasonable to expect them to sleep through most nights. However, up to half of all children under five go through periods of night waking. Some will just go back to sleep on their own; others will cry or want company. For some people it’s not a problem that their baby wakes but if it is a problem for you it might help to try to work out why your child is waking up. For example, are they too hot or too cold? Are they hungry? Are they afraid of the dark? Have they had a bad dream? If there is no obvious cause and your baby still wakes during the night it could help to find a way that suits you and your baby to settle down and go back to sleep. It’s much harder to do this in the middle of the night so it can help to have thought about the things you may try before bed time. There are various strategies that can be used but here are a couple you might want to try:
You may also like to talk to your friends with babies of a similar age and see if they have any useful suggestions.
Between the ages of 10 and 12 years, children are typically experiencing signs of the onset of puberty. Mood swings can be identified as one of the classic signs of puberty. Despite this, parents often find it very difficult to deal with mood swings and the unpredictable behaviours which accompany the moods. However, it is important that additional reasons for your child’s mood swings are considered. Some of the other factors to discuss with your child include: changes in the family and home situations, school issues and pressures that your child may be experiencing and friendship dilemmas or difficulties.
When dealing with mood swings it is important to keep the channels of communication between yourself and your child open. Suggested ways of doing this may be:
•Reassuring children that they can talk to you about anything that may be causing them concern.
•Making sufficient time and space to listen to your child on a regular basis.
•Interacting with your child regularly. This can be done when doing everyday activities such as cooking, walking to school together, or simply during meal times.
Let your child know that you are concerned about their wellbeing by calmly telling them. This can open up the channels for communication or at least help to reassure them that they are not alone. As a concerned parent, you may be finding it difficult to remain calm and patient with a withdrawn child due to your own worries and anxieties about the child’s reasons for withdrawing. This is perfectly understandable however, this may perpetuate the problem further as your child may then become ever more anxious and worried and withdrawn. Therefore, a calm and patient approach is ideal.
Some children find it easier to write their feelings down. If your child is old enough it may be worthwhile giving them this option. However, it is important that you do not give your child a deadline for this writing to take place as this may defeat the purpose and lead to less communication as opposed to more. As difficult as it can be, applying less pressure on your child to communicate may lead to better communications. Just letting them know that you are there for them and will listen if they want to talk can often be enough.
You can read more on the subject of talking to your children here.
Everyone has different ideas about what is ‘too strict’ so it is a good idea to spend some quiet time thinking about the boundaries that you want to put in place. If other family members live with you, or spend a lot of time with your child, make sure you either come to an agreement about the boundaries you will set, or tell them what boundaries you want to put in place.
Once you are happy with the boundaries you need to start making your child aware of them by telling them when they do something you don’t want them to. Try to speak to them calmly and in a quiet but firm voice and use simple language they can understand e.g. if they are using bad language you may say ‘I don’t like it when you use words like that. They are not nice and will make people cross with you. You mustn’t use them again.’ It’s good to focus on the action as being wrong and not the child. Be specific about the behaviour you don’t like. Once you have introduced a boundary be consistent with enforcing it. If they are finding it hard to follow try using a star chart to reward them for good behaviour.
Don’t be worried! The SATs just give an indication of progress over time in the core areas of Literacy and Numeracy. They have no impact on the future schools your child can attend or eventual career choices, but they might give you a better idea of your child’s strengths and weaknesses in terms of academia. They may also be used by the school to ensure your child is in the right class for their ability in a particular subject, or to give access to support or more challenging work.
Talk to your child about the SATs to see if they are worried too and reassure them that they should just try their best and you’ll be happy with that. Tell them about other things you are proud of too, especially things the SATs don’t test like social skills, friendships, sports, art, music, etc.
Ask your child if there is anyone they would like to make friends with. If they name someone, ask that child’s parents if they would help them make friends by doing something together, such as going to the park after school. Invite people around who are in the same class. Ask other parents what clubs their children go to and join them too. Talk to the teacher – do they have or can they set up a buddy system?
The most important thing for your child to know is that you have listened and are taking it seriously. Talk to the class teacher and head teacher or person in charge of the place where the bullying is taking place. Ask what they are going to do to help and keep asking until they give a specific answer e.g. assign an adult to monitor them. Make sure you keep in touch with the school/organisation to update them on how your child is doing and get feedback on strategies they’ve tried. Talk to your child about the things they can do for themselves e.g. ignore the bully, get friends to help.
Try looking at these websites for further advice:
Go and visit the new school or possible new schools and talk to them about their values and goals to find somewhere that matches your needs. Talk to your child about their feelings and where they want to go, they may have their own ideas based on where friends are going or things they have heard about schools. Talk to other parents with older children in the schools you are thinking of to see what they say. Look at the schools website and, if you are interested, their Ofsted report. You should find a link to that on their website.
Try not to be cross with them about this. Bed wetting is associated with anxiety and making them feel guilty or self conscious will only make this worse. Think about any changes in your child’s life that might have just taken place or be taking place at the moment, such as a new baby in the family, a new routine at home, starting school, a change of adult at a club they go to. It might be something that seems really little to you, but is worrying your child.
It’s also important to talk to your child and see if they can tell you what is worrying them, but it’s better not to link this to the bed wetting as it may make them more anxious. If they have a bed time drink, try making it smaller or having it earlier. You might want to involve them in washing the bed covers, but again, don’t make them feel bad about doing it. If you can’t think of, or find, anything that is a cause for anxiety, try talking to the teacher to see if there are any worries at school or visiting the doctor to see if there are any health reasons, such as an infection. The NHS website has some useful guidelines if you would like further advice.