When and how should I wean my baby?
What is weaning?
Weaning is the gradual introduction of solid food to a baby's diet, alongside their previous diet of breast or formula milk.
When should I start weaning?
Studies recommend introducing solid food after the age of four months.
How can I tell if my baby is ready for solids?
Your baby may be ready to start solids if they:
How should I introduce solids?
- Can hold their head up.
Your baby needs to be able to maintain a steady, upright position, to take solid food.
- Sits well when supported.
Your baby can sit on your lap at first, until they can sit up by themselves.
- Makes chewing motions.
Your baby needs to move food to the back of the mouth and swallow. As your baby learns to swallow efficiently you may notice that they dribble less. They may even have a tooth or two.
- Has gained a healthy weight.
Most babies are ready to eat semi-solids when they are double their birth weight.
- Is curious about what you're eating.
Your baby may reach out to try foods you are moving from your plate to your mouth.
Start with simple puréed or well-mashed foods. Try offering your baby one or two spoonfuls of mashed or puréed cooked carrot, parsnip, potato or sweet potato; mashed or puréed fruit, such as banana, cooked apple, pear or mango; baby cereal such as baby rice, sago, maize, cornmeal or millet. You can mix these with breast or formula milk.
Offer 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 first.
It may take your baby a while to get used to these new flavours. Don't be surprised if they reject or spit out the food. Just try again later. At first, your baby may seem to eat very little. Be patient and remember it takes time to learn how to eat. As your baby develops more of a side-to-side, grinding motion, add less liquid to the food so the texture is thicker. This allows your baby to work on chewing, or gumming, and swallowing.
As your baby becomes used to fruits, vegetables and cereal, add a variety of other foods. Then gradually increase the number of times a day that they have solids. Seven month old babies should eat solids three times a day. A typical day's intake could include: breast milk or formula milk; iron-fortified cereal (check packaging for salt and sugar levels, though); vegetables (including potatoes, parsnips, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potato, spinach and butternut squash); small amounts of meat, poultry, fish, fruit, yogurt, hard-boiled egg, well-cooked lentils and cheese. Don't give your baby brie, stilton and other mould-ripened or soft cheeses.
Remember that your baby's appetite will vary from one feed to the next. If they keep their mouth shut, turn away, or start playing with their food, they have probably had enough.
Do I still need to breastfeed?
Yes. Breast milk is the perfect food for your baby's first six months. Both breast milk and formula provide important vitamins, iron, and protein in an easy-to-digest form. Breast milk or formula will remain their most important source of nutrition until they are a year old. This is the case even though solid foods will gradually replace some of your baby's milk feeds.
You could give your baby vitamin drops containing vitamins A, and D from six months. It is a way of ensuring they get enough of the important vitamins they need. This is especially important for breastfed babies and babies who drink less than 500ml of formula milk a day.
Consult your doctor if:
Either of our doctors or our paediatrician can assist you with practical advice regarding nutrition or, if needed, refer you to a dietician or nutritionist. Problems such as constipation or diarrhoea, or deficiencies such as anaemia are all a result of a poor diet.
you think your baby’s diet may not be as healthy as it should be
- your baby has diarrhoea; constipation or frequent infections; poor weight gain and delay in development.
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