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What do I need to know about weaning?

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 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 but to keep in mind that it is not recommended to begin the weaning process before 17 weeks.
Weaning can be an emotional time for you and your baby as it is a sign your baby is all too quickly growing up. 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.
 
The texture of first foods should be smooth purees (no lumps), allowing your baby to get used to having a spoon in their mouth and learning to move the food from the front of the mouth to the back of their mouth. Vegetables like carrots, sweet potato, and butternut squash are wonderful first foods as they have a naturally sweet taste which babies like. It’s best to introduce vegetables before fruit as babies have a natural liking to sweet foods and introducing fruit first can make it more difficult for them to accept the more bitter tasting vegetables after. 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 mixed with your baby's usual milk 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 or re-introduce it a week later. These solids are entirely new to baby and it can take up to 15 tries before they accept it so be patient. Never force a food that is being rejected. 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.
 

More questions

Best foods to begin weaning with
Can my 6 month old have fish?
Recommended age to start weaning
Fibre is important in your baby's diet but should only be present in small amounts as it can prevent the absorbtion of important minerals.
Fat is a vital source of energy for your growing baby.
Gluten is contained in foods such as wheat, rye, barley, and oats which are alll good sources of iron and fibre.
Honey should never be given to a baby under 12 months due to the risk of botulism poisoning.
There are lots of wonderful first foods for your baby to try including puréed vegetables, fruit, and baby cereals. 
There are lots of great ways to easily prepare and cook food for your baby.
A good breakfast is vital to ensure your baby is getting the best start to the day. 

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