Weaning your baby is the time when you start to feed them solid food, instead of just bottles or breastmilk. Solid food can mean the food that you eat, only mashed and pureed down to be suitable for your baby.
When should I start weaning?
You should introduce your baby to solids somewhere between 17 and 26 weeks (six months). Before this time, your baby’s digestive system is generally not ready, and early introduction can increase the chance of obesity in later life or food intolerance. You know when your baby is ready when they:
- Have control of their head and neck when sitting up.
- Show an interest in food.
- Looks for more milk after feeds.
What should I start with?
Begin by introducing smooth, simple vegetable purées. Cooled boiled water, breast milk or formula milk can be used to thin a purée and make it more familiar to the baby. Choose a time when your baby is not too hungry and introduce one new food at a time. Leave one or two days between each new food to check for a reaction or intolerance.
What should my baby drink?
Cows’ milk is not suitable for drinking until after one year, but can be used after six months in cooking. As your baby progresses with spoon-feeds, the most suitable drink other than breast milk or a bottle is cooled boiled tap water. Or if the tap water isn’t suitable, use bottled water that has a sodium content less than 20 mg per litre, which should also be boiled and cooled. Juice is not recommended until your baby is at least six months old and then should be unsweetened, 100 per cent juice diluted down to one part juice and eight to ten parts water.
How much should my baby eat?
Try just two or three small spoons to start with, and build up when your baby starts to demand more. Once your baby has mastered taking food from the spoon, slot in solid meals between milk feeds, two a day to start with. Never put purées into a bottle; instead, always offer food from a spoon.
How do I move on to the next stage?
Once your baby is familiar with the spoon, you can introduce some texture to their food. Add a little mashed or grated food to the usual purée and slowly build up the texture as she gets used to it. Your baby will also start enjoying easy finger food like banana, bread or cooked pasta. Meat should be introduced after six months as your baby’s iron reserves from birth will be depleted. By eight or nine months, most family foods are now suitable for your baby in a chunky, mashed texture, moving slowly to chopped and bite-sized pieces. Make sure baby’s foods do not have any added salt or sugar. Finger foods such as toast, melon, cheese, cooked broccoli or carrot, meatballs or rusks are great. Avoid any unpasteurised dairy products, honey, and whole nuts to children under the age of five to avoid risk of choking.