Weaning is a hugely exciting time for babies as they try new tastes and textures. And at first, it’s all about fun, learning and experimentation. Here’s how to get weaning off to a good start.
When to start weaning
Babies are usually ready to start taking solids when they are about six months old.
Waiting until then gives their digestive system time to develop fully so it can cope with solid foods (this includes solid foods made into purées and cereals added to milk).
Start to wean your baby when:
- They can stay in a sitting position and hold their head steady
- They can co-ordinate their eyes, hands and mouth so they can see the food, pick it up and hold it in their mouths by themselves
- They can swallow food. Babies who are not ready for solids will push their food back out with their tongue and get more around their face than they do in their mouths!
Your baby's first foods can include mashed or soft cooked fruit and vegetables – such as parsnip, potato, broccoli, sweet potato, carrot, apple or pear – all cooled before eating.
Soft fruits, like peach or melon, or baby rice or baby cereal mixed with your baby's usual milk are good as well.
Keep feeding your baby breast milk or infant formula, but don't give them whole cows', goats' or sheep's milk as a drink until they are one years old.
Some babies like to start with mashed 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.
If you have any concerns about your baby or need advice on weaning, speak to your health visitor.
Come and talk to one of our local Family Support workers to see how we can help. Pop into one of our family centres, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 020 8753 6070.
Weaning is also good for developing healthy brains!
Weaning also gives another opportunity to promote healthy brain development. Children need time and attention from someone who's happy to talk, play and interact with them if they are to develop healthy brains. These positive, nurturing interactions are known as ‘serve and return’.
In other words, when an infant or young child babbles, gestures, or cries, and an adult responds appropriately with eye contact, words, or a hug, connections are built in a child’s brain that support the development of communication and social skills.