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 or first infant formula. 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.
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:
1. They can stay in a sitting position and hold their head steady
2. 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
3. They can swallow food. Babies who are not ready will push the food back out with their tongue
Spoon-fed or baby-led?
Spoon-fed weaning is the process of spoon-feeding your baby purees or smooth, mashed food. Baby-led weaning involves skipping ahead of the puree stage and allowing your baby to explore a range of soft finger foods for themselves.
We believe there isn’t one ‘correct’ way to wean your baby. Most importantly it’s about being relaxed, having fun experimenting with food, and letting your baby show you what they enjoy most.
Ways to get started
- Start with veggies - the more babies’ tastebuds 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.