Weaning can be a confusing term – for some people it’s the time when breastfeeding is reduced, while others use it to describe the point when solid foods are first introduced into baby’s diet.
What is weaning?
Generally, weaning is taken to mean the point at which solid foods are introduced to in to a baby’s diet.
During their first 6 months of life babies are developing fast and have usually doubled their birth weight! So, it might not be surprising to know that by around 6 months of age breast milk (or infant formula) alone can’t provide all the nutrients and energy they need for continued healthy growth and development – so it’s time to start introducing solids into their diet.
By around 6 months the stores of zinc and iron built-up by your baby during pregnancy are falling and need to be replenished. Your baby’s digestive system is now mature enough to deal with solids and most babies are able to adapt quickly to different foods, textures and feeding methods if introduced around this time.
There is no set order or rate for introducing solids as long as iron-rich foods are included, and the texture is right (puréed and then mashed). For more information on first foods, see Stage 1: From 6 Months – First tastes
Breast milk still remains an important source of nutrition for your baby during weaning and should continue to be given alongside solid foods until they are 12 months old and beyond.
Are they ready for solids?
You can watch out for signs your baby may be ready to start moving on to solid foods – these can include:
- The loss of the tongue-thrust reflex – which is when they stop trying to push food out of their mouth with their tongue
- They can sit and hold their head without support
- They are interested in what you are eating and start to imitate eating actions.
Remember, the process of weaning will be different for every mother and baby. It’s best to be guided by you and your baby’s needs – the right time to wean is when you or your child feel the time is right.
For more information and tips on when to start introducing solids and the best kinds of foods and textures to start with watch our video Introducing Solids