When is the Best Time to Start Weaning Your Baby?
Just as you start getting used to the process of supplying your baby with milk, time flies and the feeding challenge of solid food is suddenly upon you – a process better known as weaning.
When babies are used to only drinking milk, their first experience with solid foods can be very strange to begin with. Ideally you want them to quickly get used to the idea of having solid food by getting the weaning process off to a good start:
Signs Your Baby is Ready
Your baby should be ready to start weaning at around 6 months old, but they may be ready slightly earlier than that. Here are some good signs that your baby is ready:
- Good neck control and holding up head
- Sitting well when supported – they need to be able to hold an upright position when you feed them
- Good weight gain – a good milestone is to be double their birth weight by 6 months old
- Disappearing tongue-thrust reflex – the reflex that makes your baby stick their tongue out when a foreign object touches it
- Mimicking parents by opening mouth when they are eating and watching their meals intently
Types of Weaning
This type of weaning involves putting small chunks of food in front of your baby and letting them eat each bit in their own time. By putting your baby in charge of their own food, the whole process turns into more of an exciting discovery process.
The benefit of baby-led weaning is that they learn to feed themselves and start to think of food as being fun, but it can be quite messy and it will take longer if they are left to their own device to eat solids.
This type of weaning involves putting mashed and pureed food straight into your baby’s mouth using a spoon. As time goes on you can use thicker puree and chunkier food to get them used to solids.
The benefit of spoon-led weaning is that you are in complete control of the situation and can plan the progression of their solid foods. This is the method that the majority of parents choose and is best if you are going to start weaning before 6 months.
Steps to Follow
First of all, it’s important to choose the right time to start weaning. If your baby is tired then they won’t be in the mood to try something new. Make sure they are wide awake and alert and ensure there are no other distractions around you. Make sure you don’t rush into this, as you need plenty of time and patience.
The next step is to make sure both you and your baby are comfortable before you begin. Sit your baby on your lap or in a highchair and ensure they are sat up straight so that they can swallow easily.
Try starting with milk, because if your baby is very hungry, then they won’t even be able to concentrate on trying solid foods. Give them half their milk and then try and finish their meal with some solids.
Choosing the right food is important when it comes to weaning, so think purees and baby rice, and try different fruit and veg that they can pick up in their fingers. Cut up chunks that are about the width of your index finger, as this will be easiest for them to hold.
The main thing when it comes to weaning is to have fun. Don’t worry too much about any mess, and if at first your baby isn’t interested, then just try again the next day.