When to wean
The Department of Health, in line with the World Health Organisation, recommends that until six months of age, breast milk or infant formula will provide all the nourishment needed for proper growth and development of your baby.
From six months onwards, nutrient stores that have been present from birth, such as iron, zinc, vitamin A and D become depleted and the nutritional requirements increase beyond that which can be provided by milk. It’s therefore important not to delay introducing solids beyond 6 months.
You may have noticed your baby starting to produce increasing amounts of saliva in the form of dribble from around 6 to 8 weeks. It could be early teeth but the main reason is so they can start eating proper food from around 6 months (although it could be earlier, from 4-6 months depending on your baby’s needs). Babies also naturally develop skills such as sitting up, grasping objects and exploring with their mouths after the first few months of life and in turn will begin to show more interest in foods.
All babies develop differently and have their own individual needs, and although the recommendation is to delay introducing solids until 6 months, some babies will be ready for, or need solids as early as 4 months. It COULD increase the risk of developing allergies particularly in babies from mothers or fathers who already have allergies, so it is best to speak to your health visitor if you want to try solids earlier than 6 months.
Signs your baby is ready to wean
There are a few key signs that your baby is ready to try solid food. They may:
- Start waking in the night for feeds when they have previously been sleeping through
- Seem unsatisfied by their milk feed
- Have a steady head and sits well when supported (they need to be able to maintain a firm upright position in order to take first foods from a spoon and not choke)
- Have gained a healthy weight, at least double their birth weight. (Except in some cases where reflux has prevented good weight gain and introducing solids may help ease the condition – always speak to a health practitioner first in this case)
- Show increasing interest in food you’re eating and even try to grab some en-route from plate to mouth.
- Show signs of knowing how to chew and move food to the back of her mouth – such as less drooling and making a chewing motion with their mouths.
You know your baby best and will know when they’re ready for the next step.