When should I wean my baby?
The World Health Organisation recommends exclusively breastfeeding your baby until 6 months before introducing solids. However, recent evidence (2011) has shown that breastfed babies may need some solids slightly earlier, 4-6 months, as they may not be getting all the nutrition they need and it could help prevent the development of some allergies. The debate goes on but if your baby seems ready for solid food after 4 months, discuss it with your health visitor and try a few early tastes.
If my baby isn’t sleeping is that a sign she needs solid food?
Not necessarily. There are many factors that could be stopping your baby from sleeping through. Teething, room temperature, over-stimulation, colic or just looking for comfort. However, if they’re waking regularly to feed, and seem really hungry in the morning, it could be one of the signs your baby is ready for solids. However, don’t be tempted to add baby rice or cereal to your babies night-time feed to help them sleep through, especially if it’s before 4 months. This is more likely to cause the indigestion and/constipation and your babies digestive system really isn’t ready for solid food before 17 weeks. Speak to your health visitor if you’re concerned about your babies sleeping habits.
What’s the earliest I can give my baby solids?
You shouldn’t give your baby anything but breast or formula milk for the first 4 months of their lives. After 4 months, and if your baby seems more hungry and showing signs of needing solids, you can start trying them with some early tastes.
What are the keys signs my baby’s ready for solid food?
There are a number of signs that your baby might be ready to start trying solid food and these will probably happen around the 5/6 months mark, if not a little earlier. Seeming to be unsatisfied with their milk is a key sign, as is showing an interest in, and maybe even trying to grab your food, dribbling a lot and chewing things (but this can also be down to teething), not sleeping through the night when previously they had. Click here to see more.
What’s the best food to start weaning my baby with?
If you introduce solids before 6 months you should feed your baby baby rice and pureed fruit and vegetables, and in the very early days mix these with a little of their regular milk. Apple, pear and banana (the browner the better) are good fruits to start with (you’ll need to cook the apple and pear first), and carrot, parsnip, butternut squash and sweet potato are good vegetables to start them with. If your baby becomes constipated, reduce the rice and give more fruit. If you wean from 6 months you can give your baby mashed food and perhaps even some finger foods. From 6 months, your baby can eat most foods, as long as you introduce them slowly to check fro allergies.
What foods should I avoid giving my baby?
Before 6 months do not give your baby any gluten containing food, which includes wheat, oats and any other grains (so no bread, pasta, porridge etc). In fact before 6 months your baby should only have basic fruit, veg and baby rice and their regular milk. After 6 months you can start adding in grains, other dairy (yogurt and cheese), meat and fish (not shell fish). Do not give a baby under the age of 12 months honey and whole nuts. For a full list of what to feed your baby and when see our downloadable weaning chart.
Can I add salt and sugar to my babys food?
There is no need to add salt and sugar to your babys food. To add sweetness you can use fresh fruit juice and extra taste use herbs and mild spices.
My baby’s six months can I start giving him other drinks besides milk?
If you travel or live in a hot country, your baby might benefit from a little boiled, and then cooled, water from around 2/3 months, but not so much that it interferes with their milk feeds. From 6 months they can start having a little water or very diluted juice with their meals and snacks.
When can I give my baby cows milk?
You can give your baby cows milk in their food from around 8 months but you must not give it as a drink until after they’ve turned one. Some health visitors suggest not introducing cow milks as a drink until they’re 2 years old and they should drink follow-on/toddler milk instead. However, as long as they have a varied and healthy diet, they shouldn’t need the extra nutrients in formula milk
When can I give my baby food to eat in their hands?
You can start giving your baby “finger” food from around 6 months but make sure its food they won’t choke on. Banana, soft cooked pasta, rice cakes and baby biscuits, pieces of soft pear, avocado, cooked vegetables. This will help them learn to chew. Click here for more finger food ideas.
What is Baby Led Weaning?
This is a method of weaning which involves no pureed or mashed food and can only be done from 6 months old. The idea is that you give your baby food from your own plate that they eat with their hands and followers of BLW believe it develops a more varied pallet and helps babies to learn the chewing action more quickly. It’s a method that works for some but maybe not for others. Read more on BLW here.
I’m a vegetarian and would like to wean my baby on a vegetarian diet but will they be getting enough of the right nutrition?
Many of the key nutrients that children need in early life, crucial for a fast developing body, are found in highest concentration in meat and fish products, however, there are still excellent vegetarian sources of these nutrients. If you’re a little adventurous when you start weaning, there’s no reason why your baby won’t grow and develop just as well with a vegetarian, or even vegan diet. Click here to see more vegetarian weaning tips.
My baby is 7 months and on 3 solid meals a day – how do I start reducing her milk intake?
The whole process of weaning is to move your baby from milk to solid food. As they’re intake of solid food increases over the weeks and months, they should naturally start taking less milk. The lunchtime feed is usually the first milk feed to drop and be replaced by a solid meal, likewise the teatime feed. At 7 months and 3 meals a day your baby should be content with just 4-5 milk feeds a day. If they’re not sleeping through as yet, you may still be feeding them at 10.30/11.00, but with solid food starting to fill them up, this feed should also go. If your baby seems a little hungry between meals, you can give them some snacks/finger foods. By 10 months you should be aiming for a feeding routine along the following lines: a milk feed (a feed being 200-250ml) first thing in the morning, followed by breakfast, then a mid-morning snack, then lunch, then a milk feed after lunch/mid-afternoon, then tea/supper then a milk feed before bed. If you’re still breast feeding you may find your baby needs a larger number of feeds but of less quantity. Up until 12 months milk still forms an important part of your babies diet.
Can I delay weaning until after 6 months with my breast fed baby?
From 6 months, the nutrient reserves that your baby has had stored since birth, start to deplete quickly and therefore your baby needs a more varied diet, in the form of solid food, and milk, to replace these and develop and grow normally. This is why it’s important to start weaning your baby at 6 months and no later. In fact, recent studies have shown that breast fed babies may need to start weaning onto solid food earlier than 6 months, in order to get all the nutrients they need.
Is homemade baby food better than shop bought?
Homemade food is always better, and cheaper, than shop bought food. For the same price of a couple of jars of shop bought food you could make 3 times as much for freezing. And you can also control what goes into the food, especially in terms of the amount of salt and sugar. Having said that, it’s not always possible to give you baby homemade food, if you’re away or just don’t have the time, there are some great pre-prepared food options out there. For tips on cooking baby food click here.
Do I need any special equipment for weaning my baby?
The basic equipment you need for starting your baby on solids is a good, supportive chair, some plastic “weaning” spoons and bowls, a plastic beaker cup and bibs! To make your own food you’ll need some storage equipment, such an ice-cube tray and freezer bags, plus some small freezable pots, and preferably a hand held or counter top food processor. If you’re weaning from 6 months a potato masher will probably be enough. See our weaning equipment tips here
Is it OK to give my 5 month old shop bought solid food?
Yes as long as it’s age appropriate. All shop bought food carries age guidance – stage 1 being suitable for 4-6 months, stage 2 for 7-9 months and stage 3 for 10 months plus. You might want to check sugar content, as you shouldn’t give your baby any food with added sugar or salt.
I suffer from hay fever and asthma – will my child be more likely to have a food allergy?
They say that if there are allergies in the family, then there is a higher risk of your baby having them. For this reason it’s a good idea to wean slowly, one food, or food type, at a time, just to gauge if there is an allergy present. And perhaps hold off on giving your baby food with high allergy risks, such as egg, kiwi, sesame seeds (so including hummus) and obviously nuts, until they’re 12 months plus, especially if you yourself have had or are allergic to any of these things. However, it’s important to remember that not exposing your child to possible allergens early on can also cause allergies to develop. Speak to you Health Visitor if you’re concerned.
How much milk should my 12 month old be having?
Babies of 12 months should still be having a good amount of milk a day, at least 500ml, as it’s the best source of calcium, vital for bone growth and development. However, sometimes around this time babies can start to go off milk but try not to worry too much as there are plenty of other sources of calcium in a healthy and varied diet.