How to Know When to Start Weaning
6 min read
When your little one is ready to start solids, a whole new world of flavour and texture is opened up to them.
This is, of course, incredibly exciting but will also lead to plenty of questions - that’s totally normal; no one is a weaning expert from the start!
One of the first questions to come up will likely be ‘how do I know when my baby is ready to start weaning?’ With so much weaning advice out there, you’d be forgiven for getting a little overwhelmed - our handy guide helps you answer this question and gives some top tips to help ease any worries at the beginning of the journey.
Introducing Solids at Six Months
Introducing solids is known as complementary feeding or weaning. It is the introduction of foods, which complement your baby’s usual milk – rather than replacing it.
The NHS recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. During this stage, your baby will get enough energy and nutrition from milk, whether this is breastmilk or formula.
Waiting until six months because it gives your little one time to develop, ensuring they can move food around in their mouth, chew and swallow as well as feed themselves.
Signs Your Baby is Ready for Weaning
Some babies may be ready to start weaning slightly earlier or later than six months exactly - it is better to pay attention to developmental signs rather than getting too focused on the calendar.
Three signs to look out for that show your little one is ready to start their adventure with food are:
- They can stay in a sitting position and hold their head steady.
- They can coordinate their eyes, hands and mouth to look at food, pick it up and bring it to their mouth.
- They swallow food rather than pushing it back out with their tongue.
Ideally, you will start noticing these signs, together and at multiple times, at around six months. If you are ever unsure, it is best to speak to your healthcare professional.
The following false signs are normal behaviours often mistaken by parents as signs of readiness for solids.
- They chew on their fists.
- They want extra milk feeds.
- They wake up in the night more than usual.
Top Tips for Starting Weaning
If you’ve seen the signs and your little one is reading for their first solids, see our top tips below that give you a helping hand when starting the weaning journey.
Develop a routine for mealtimes. Creating a familiar and comfortable environment will help new experiences with flavour and texture less overwhelming.
Encourage your little one to lick away any food from around the mouth. This is a 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. Show budding foodies how to experiment with mashing, squashing, licking and squeezing. These activities will encourage your baby to taste and enjoy their food and learn new flavours.
Sit with your baby at mealtimes and eat together. Let them take food from your plate and get involved in the social aspects of mealtimes.
Offer both savoury and sweet foods. This is a great way to encourage your baby to try a wide range of tastes and textures, helping to keep them engaged and interested throughout the stages of weaning.
It’s important to remember that every weaning journey is different - you’ll work out a routine that works best for you and your little foodie.
If your baby is ready to begin their adventure with solid food, check out the rest of our blog for expert weaning advice designed to support you through the journey! To get you started, take a look at our advice on the best veg to choose when starting weaning.