Advice on weaning
Weaning is when babies are introduced gradually to different foods along with their usual milk until they are eating the same as the rest of their family. It is sometimes also called ‘starting solids’.
When to start - All babies are different and will be ready to wean at different times. The Government recommends that babies are weaned as close to 6 months-26 weeks as possible and no earlier than 17 weeks. This gives the baby’s digestive system and especially their kidneys more time to mature to be able to cope with other foods. They also need to have physically developed enough to cope with eating.
The signs of being ready to wean include:
- being able to sit up (may need support)
- being able to reach and grasp objects
- being able to chew
- loss of tongue thrust (when babies still have a tongue thrust they tend to spit out food put in their mouth because they can’t move it to the back of their mouth and it can be interpreted as the baby not liking the food)
- taking an interest in food
If a baby is younger than 6 months food may need to be pureed, after 6 months babies can have mashed or soft finger foods.
What to give - Family foods are better than commercial foods because you know what is in the food. The consistency and taste of home made food changes every time it is made, exposing a baby to lots of different tastes and textures. This helps to avoid fussy eaters when they are older. It is often cheaper, especially after 6 months when babies can have most family foods. Breast milk and formula milk and plain water are the recommended drinks up to 1 year.
Sugar and salt should not be added to food. Whole nuts and honey should also be avoided.
In addition babies under 6 months should not have: wheat, fish and shellfish, dairy products, soya, citrus foods, soft berries, eggs and liver.
Local Health Visiting Teams provide detailed Weaning information at clinics and groups. They will also provide you with an opportunity to see a local Weaning DVD which can also be watched below.