What Is Baby Weaning?
What Does Baby Weaning Mean?
Baby weaning refers to when you introduce and transition your baby onto solid foods. This is also known as complementary feeding. This takes place around 6 months.
At the beginning its more about getting your baby used to eating. Your little one will get nutrition at the start from breast milk or formula. So they will soon graduate to being able to eat with the rest of the family with smaller portions.
Why does Baby Weaning starts around 6 months?
Now this may vary as of course each child is different. This is often started after your little one starts showing real interest in you eating. It's around 6 months for several reasons.
- Breast milk or formula will provide your little one all the nutrition (except Vitamin D in enough amounts)
They'll be able to:
- stay in a sitting position and hold their head steady
- coordinate their eyes, hands and mouth so they can look at the food, pick it up and put it in their mouth by themselves
- swallow food (rather than spit it back out)
The following behaviours can be mistaken by parents as signs that their baby's ready for solid foods:
- chewing their fists
- waking up in the night (more than usual)
- wanting extra milk feeds
These are all normal behaviours for babies and not necessarily a sign that they're hungry or ready to start solid food.
If your baby was born prematurely, ask your health visitor or GP for advice on when to start introducing solid foods.
What Types Of Solid Foods
Do not add sugar or salt (including stock cubes and gravy) to your baby's food or cooking water.
Babies should not eat salty foods as it's not good for their kidneys, and sugar can cause tooth decay.
Tips to get your baby off to a good start with solid foods:
- Eating is a whole new skill. Some babies learn to accept new foods and textures more quickly than others. Keep trying, and give your baby lots of encouragement and praise.
- Allow plenty of time, especially at first.
- Go at your baby's pace and let them show you when they're hungry or full. Stop when your baby shows signs that they have had enough. This could be firmly closing their mouth or turning their head away. If you're using a spoon, wait for your baby to open their mouth before you offer the food. Do not force your baby to eat. Wait until the next time if they're not interested this time.
- Be patient and keep offering a variety of foods, even the ones they do not seem to like. It may take 10 tries or more for your baby to get used to new foods, flavours and textures. There will be days when they eat more, some when they eat less, and then days when they reject everything. Do not worry, this is perfectly normal.
- Let your baby enjoy touching and holding the food. Allow your baby to feed themselves, using their fingers, as soon as they show an interest. If you're using a spoon, your baby may like to hold it or another spoon to try feeding themselves.
- Keep distractions to a minimum during mealtimes and avoid sitting your baby in front of the television, phone or tablet.
- Show them how you eat. Babies copy their parents and other children. Sit down together for family mealtimes as much as possible.
Once you have started introducing solid foods from around 6 months of age, try to move your baby on from puréed or blended foods to mashed, lumpy or finger foods as soon as they can manage them.
This helps them learn how to chew, move solid food around their mouth and swallow.
Some babies like to start with mashed, lumpy or finger foods.
Other babies need a little longer to get used to new textures, so may prefer smooth or blended foods on a spoon at first.
Just keep offering them lumpy textures and they'll eventually get used to it.