Babies, weaning

Introduction

Weaning means gradually introducing a range of solid foods to your baby, until they are eating the same food as the rest of your family. As your baby eats more solids, they will want less milk.

When do I start weaning my child?

You should start giving your baby solid foods when they are around six months old, as well as breast or formula milk.

Before six months, your baby's gut is still developing and they need only breast or formula milk. Weaning too soon may increase the risk of infections and allergies.

Try giving solid foods when your baby:

  • can sit up,
  • wants to chew and is putting toys and other objects in their mouth, and
  • reaches and grabs accurately.

It is normal for babies aged three to five months to begin waking in the night when they have previously slept through. It is not necessarily a sign of hunger and starting solids will not make your baby more likely to sleep through the night again.

If your baby seems hungrier at any time before six months, they may be having a growth spurt, and extra breast or formula milk will be enough to meet their needs.

Why is weaning important?

Solid food is needed to provide your baby with enough important nutrients like iron. Also, giving solid food from around six months is important for learning to chew and accept different tastes and textures.

By the age of 12 months, they can join in with family meals.

How should I do it?

Introduce small amounts of pureed fruits and vegetables and gradually build up to larger amounts of more solid food.

You can mix the solid food with breast or formula milk, using a hand blender. Make the food gradually more textured by blending for shorter times.

Allow plenty of time and go at your baby's pace. When your baby has clearly had enough food or is refusing to eat, stop until the next mealtime.

See 'how to start' for a more detailed guide.

Last updated: 04 October 2011

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