Weaning: When and How to start

Weaning is a hugely exciting time for babies as they try new tastes and textures. In the beginning stages, how much your baby takes is less important than getting them used to the idea of eating. Your baby will still be getting most of their nutrition from breast milk or infant formula.

When to start Weaning
It’s usually recommended to wait until around 6 months before starting to introduce solid foods. This gives your baby time to develop so they can cope fully with solid foods. It also means they will be more able to feed themselves more.

There are also certain signs to look out for when it comes to introducing weaning, these include:

  • Your baby can stay in a sitting position and hold their head steady
  • They can coordinate their eyes, hands and mouth so they can see the food, pick it up and put it in their mouth 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 round their face than they do in their mouths

If your baby was born prematurely, ask your health visitor or GP for advice on when to start introducing solid foods.

Choose the right time of day
Your baby won’t be in the mood for food if they’re sleepy. Choose a time of day when they’re awake and alert, but not distracted.

How to start solid foods
To begin with, your baby will only need a small amount of food before their usual milk feed. Don’t worry about how much they eat, the most important thing is getting them used to new tastes and textures.

Pick the right foods
Try a smooth purée or finger foods to start with. Good foods for puréeing include fruit and vegetables. Soft fruit or avocado that your baby can pick up are also ideal. Cut foods roughly the same size as your own fingers so your baby can hold them. Just make sure you don’t give soft round foods like grapes or cherry tomatoes that your baby can choke on.

The very first mouthful of food may come straight back out because your baby has pushed their tongue forwards, as they do when they’re drinking milk. It may take a few mouthfuls or even a few meals to work out that if they push their tongue backwards the food will stay in their mouth and they will be able to swallow it.

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 and somewhere they eat less, don’t worry, this is perfectly normal.