How to know when to start weaning
8 min read
Weaning can at times be complex, confusing, and overwhelming. How do you know when Baby is ready to start? We break it down for you.
The Department of Health recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. Providing mum is consuming a healthy diet, breastmilk should provide enough energy and nutrition for the baby until they reach this age. At six months of age, the transition from milk feeds to solid foods should begin.
Introducing solids is known as complementary feeding or weaning and it is the introduction of foods, which complement your baby’s usual milk – rather than replacing it.
Your little one’s palate is like a blank canvas and is easily shaped by each new taste experience. During the first year of life, babies are receptive to all five basic tastes to differing degrees, preferring those that are sweet or salty.
At Babease we believe that when you start to introduce solid foods, it’s really important to start with vegetables in as much variety as you can manage. Introducing the more bitter tasting vegetables such as broccoli or kale may need more perseverance than the easily accepted sweet tasting vegetables, such as carrots and sweet potato or fruits, but it is definitely worth the extra effort. Studies have shown that babies who eat a wide variety of vegetables during complementary feeding go on to eat more vegetables in later childhood (up to 7 years) than those that don’t.
How to know when your baby is ready for weaning?
Most babies are ready for their first tastes of foods at around six months of age, but try not to be too focused on the calendar. Every baby is unique, so try to be guided by your baby and not their exact age, although no babies should be introduced to solid foods before 4 months (or 17 weeks) of age. Try to look out for developmental signs that your baby might be ready for solids, such as holding their head steady and sitting up on their own, being able to pick up food and place it into their mouths as well as being able to swallow food. Babies who are not quite ready for solids will push food out of their mouths with their tongue - this is called the ‘extrusion reflex’ and it is completely normal (and does not mean your baby does not like the food!). This reflex disappears somewhere between four and six months of age.
To help you on your weaning journey Babease has put together 10 Top Tips:
- Develop a routine for mealtimes. Ensure your baby is well supported in a comfortable highchair; they should not be able to topple over or wobble around.
- Encourage your little one to lick away any food from around the mouth. This is good way to get your baby’s tongue and mouth working towards swallowing effectively and developing tongue and mouth muscles for talking.
- Have Fun! Encourage your baby to have fun and play with food, experiment with mashing, squashing, licking and squeezing. These activities will encourage your baby to taste and enjoy their food and learn new flavours.
- Eat Together! Sit with your baby at mealtimes and eat together. Let them share your plate and taste your food. Mealtimes are about being sociable, so talk to your baby about their food.
- Offer your baby both a savoury and sweet course. This is a great way to encourage your baby to try a wide range of tastes and textures and provides lots of variety for your baby whilst keeping it interesting.