The process of weaning is one that will require a lot of patience, and it’s important to pick a time of day where both you and your baby are relaxed. This will allow you to deal with any issues that may arise with as little stress as possible.
It is generally recommended that you wait until your baby is approximately six months old before you begin to wean them. It is safer to wait until they are this age as it is less likely your baby will pick up an infection or will have a reaction to any food as both the digestive and immune systems are stronger and more mature.
It is important to remember that the recommended age of six months is only a guideline and the decision of when to begin weaning is a very personal choice. It is imperative that you decide the best time for you and your baby.
Weaning can be an emotional time for you and your baby as it is a sign your baby is all too quickly growing up (so emotional!)
It is, however, an essential milestone in your baby’s life and will ensure their healthy growth and development. Weaning your baby is a slow process, which begins with just one or two spoons and will eventually build up to three solid meals a day over a course of many weeks. The speed with which your baby adjusts can vary; some babies may take to it straight away while others need more time to get used to new tastes and textures.
First foods should be easy to digest and unlikely to be a source of allergens. Prepare purées as a first food as their smooth texture is ideal to help babies grow accustomed to food. Vegetables like carrots, sweet potato, and butternut squash are wonderful first foods as they have a naturally sweet taste which babies like.
They are also a great source of beta-carotene which promotes growth and helps prevent infection. First foods should be well puréed or mashed. Apple, pear, mango, and banana make great first fruit purées and you can even combine them for more flavour. Baby rice is also ideal for a gentle start to weaning due to its naturally milky texture and it’s also easily digested. Be sure to allow all cooked foods to cool before feeding your baby; stir them well and test them to make sure they are alright.
Start by offering them one or two spoonfuls at feeding time,either before or after their milk is fine. Be ready for your baby to reject or spit out the food, as it is a natural reflex and this food is entirely new to them. If they do reject it, it’s a good idea to mix the food with some of their milk and try again.
These solids are entirely new to baby so be patient. If you are struggling to wean your baby then it could also be that the time is just not right. This is especially true if your baby has been sick or if there has been upheaval in your lifestyle or household that they may be adjusting to. In such cases, it's probably best to wait a week or two and try again.
Allow your baby to gradually become used to solids before allowing the texture to become less smooth. This encourages baby to start working at the food with their mouth until they eventually start chewing (or gumming) it properly
When your baby is chewing happily you can start varying and increasing the amount of food they take in, until they are finally eating solids three times a day.
When is the right time to start weaning?
When to start weaning is a personal decision, which is entirely the parent’s choice. The appropriate time varies greatly because every child is different and they tend to reach the stage where milk is no longer enough at their own pace. There is also mum’s situation to consider and this can be influenced by many things including the need to prepare for returning to work or it can be simply that she feels it is the right time for her and her baby.
As a very general guideline, it is widely accepted that solids should not be introduced to your baby’s diet before 4 months and not later than 6 months. Up to 4 months, your baby’s digestive system and kidneys are not ready to handle solids yet. It is also thought that if you introduce solids too early, your baby is more prone to allergic reactions as their system has not adequately matured.
Whenever you decide that you and your baby are ready to begin weaning, then this is the right time for you and is totally acceptable as long as your baby is getting all the nutrition they need.
Good luck mums, and if you have any questions, just ask us!