Weaning is an important stage in your baby’s development – getting it right, at the right time, will ensure baby gets the right nutrients and know-how to support their continual growth. But how do you know when your little one is ready to start weaning onto solid foods?
If you are thinking of weaning your baby there are some signs to look out for that will help you decide if the time is right. Your baby may be ready if :
- They are able to maintain a steady, upright position, to take their first foods. Some examples of first foods can be found in our Weaning recipe book
- Sits well when supported. You may have to have your baby sit on your lap at first. A highchair can be used a bit later when they can sit up by themselves.
- Makes chewing motions. Your baby should be able to move food to the back of her mouth and swallow. As your baby learns to swallow efficiently you may notice that they dribbles less.
- Has gained a healthy weight. Most babies are ready to eat semi-solids when they've doubled their birth weight. This may happen before or around their sixth month which is the best time for weaning.
- Is curious about what you're eating. Are they eyeing your meals and reaching out to try foods you're moving from your plate to your mouth?
- Has good coordination. They should be able to look at food, grab it and put it in their mouth.
There are also signs that are often mistaken for a baby being ready for first foods. These include:
- Chewing fists.
- Waking in the night when they previously slept through.
- Wanting extra milk feeds.
These are just things that growing babies do, and they don't necessarily mean that your baby is ready for solids.
Even when you see signs that your baby is ready to start solids, health experts recommend waiting until they are around six months before starting weaning.
Waiting until six months to give your baby their first foods protects their health. It reduces the chance that they will develop allergies or pick up an infection from food, because at six months their immune system and digestive system are stronger.
It's especially important not to give your baby food before six months if you have a family history of allergies or coeliac disease. Coeliac disease is triggered by the gluten in grains. Complementary feeding is a useful term as it suggests that weaning isn’t just replacing baby’s milk feeds but complementing it as they master the skill of eating solid foods.
How to start weaning!
This is the fun part and need not be overwhelming. The first couple of months is to find out if your baby reacts to any particular food type. Ideal first foods are apple puree, banana puree etc. I always support homemade food rather than buying expensive shop baby food which may have been sat on the shelves for months.
You can make the purees ahead in bulk which store easily in reusable pouches that hardly take up any space in the freezer and so easy to clean with our cleaning brush. There are various options for bulk storage and that’s why I invented the Fill n Squeeze Pouch System which allows you to bulk make purees and store small amounts in these reusable pouches. As your baby’s appetite grows you can store more in the pouch.
Once you’re sure you’ve tried most puree types made up of fruit and vegetables then you can start to introduce meat, fish, lentils in the meals. Around 7 to 8 months of age, this is the ideal time to introduce protein-based meals as your baby’s iron level begins to drop. Our Chicken and Asparagus recipe is a big hit with babies!
It’s easier to wean your baby when at home, but in some cases like it was with my daughter Zara she was weaned out of the home as our family home was being reinvented! Bad timing for sure….
This is where I really struggled to heat up her food and feed whilst she was sat in the pram. The pouch spoon would have been a life saver if I would have invented it back then as it simply clips onto all pouches including shop pre filled pouches and the puree slides onto the spoon and straight into the babies mouth!
If your baby still prefers purees over solid food which is still very common, they will no doubt want to feed themselves. This is fine when you’re at home, let them hold a spoon and you can still feed them. However, when you have to feed your baby out of the home it’s easy by using our clever Silicone Pouch Topper . This simply attaches to all pouches and allows the baby to squeeze the food into their mouth without causing a big mess due to the inner control valve which prevents messy accidents!
As your baby grows older, they are probably eating more solid food (however in Zara’ case this was not until she was 18 months of age!). It may be tempting in between meals to give them biscuits or other sweet treats but why not be in control and make a healthy smoothie which you can make ahead in time and store in these fun educational reusable pouches in the freezer until required.
It’s important to start as you mean to go on even when they go to preschool and school. Obesity in childhood is becoming a national issue but this can be avoided especially in the early years of a child’s nutritional diet. I’m in favour of homemade lunch boxes versus school meals which are shockingly high in sugar! Our reusable pouches if made ahead and stored in the freezer make the perfect ice packs in the lunch box bag. By the time it’s lunchtime, the pouch would have defrosted and your child has a tasty and healthy treat to look forward to boosting their brain power for the rest of the afternoon!