The current advice is to begin weaning your baby at around six months of age (source: NHS.uk). Before then, little ones still get most of the nutrients they need from breast milk of first infant formula.
How will I know my baby is ready for weaning?
There are three clear signs that, together, show your baby is ready to start weaning.
- They can stay in a sitting position and hold their head steady
- They can co-ordinate their eyes, hands and mouth so they can look at the food, pick it up and put it in their mouth all by themselves
- They can swallow food. Babies who are not ready will push the food back out with their tongue.
Start by offering a few spoonfuls or pieces of food once a day. If your little one refuses to eat, wait until the next feed and then try again. It can take a while for the weaning adventure to gather momentum as cautious little eaters work out what to do with this exciting new stuff called food.
Ways to Get Started
- Start with veggies – the more babies’ taste buds are nurtured, the more diverse their palate becomes. Because they have an innate preference for sweet foods, introducing green veggies from the get-go makes them more likely to accept more challenging, savoury flavours
- Let little ones have some control – give your baby food to hold so they can experiment with it, get messy and have a go at feeding themselves. You’ll be surprised how quickly they start getting the hang of it
- Over time, begin to leave some small lumps in your purees and veggie mashes so little ones get used to lots of interesting new textures
- Introduce new flavours as quickly as possible – expanding their repertoire will help to prevent picky eating down the line
- Allow plenty of time for meals – be patient and don’t rush your little diner. Let them explore their food with all their senses
- Always sit with your baby and try things together so they can learn from you. It’s also a good idea to include little ones in family meals as much as possible – research shows watching others eat healthily helps them develop healthy eating habits for life
- Avoid added/free sugars for the first year – not only for health reasons, but to avoid your baby getting used to unnecessarily sweet tastes.
- Introduce the foods most likely to cause an allergy one at a time so a reaction can easily be spotted. And don’t introduce these foods before six months.