Email Print

weaning Weaning a baby is a process many parents dread. It is associated with some physical and emotional discomfort, especially for breastfeeding mums. And potentially, some physical discomfort for the baby during the first weeks.

Is my baby ready to start solids?

If your baby shows signs of:

  • hunger after a usual milk feed;
  • waking up at night for an extra feed or waking up at night after sleeping through the night;
  • a slight drop in his weight or a slight change in his usual weight gaining trend;

then he probably is ready for something more serious

Anyway, experts recommend starting weaning no earlier than 6 months now, as some babies' digestive system may not be ready for the solids before 6 months. If you decide to follow this recommendation, you know you're on the safe side then, so you don't need to worry about your baby not being ready. See a comprehensive month by month baby development calendar on our website.

Keep a pint of milk a day

If you decide to breastfeed your baby after starting the solids, you don't need to worry about your baby getting the right amount of iron and Vitamin D, as you would if you fed him on cow's milk. Iron is important for the nervous cells and brain development. An iron deficiency in the first 2 years of life is likely to influence the learning capabilities later on in life. A severe lack of iron will lead to anaemia, which is the body's incapacity of producing enough red cells for proper brain development.

How should I start solids?

The most common advice is to start the baby weaning process with baby rice. The truth is you can start with anything that doesn't have lumps and it's easy to digest, like yogurts, porridge, fruit puree (small amounts at first, so they don't give your baby tummy ache), vegetable puree, anything smooth and runny. If your baby shows signs that he doesn't like baby rice, don't worry about it. This is perfectly normal and don't let this discourage you and think he's not ready yet. Try mixing it with some mashed apple or pear or some mashed banana and you might see some change. It is recommended to try one at a time at first. If your baby gets any discomfort from a particular food, then it is easy to locate which one and to avoid it in the future. At 7-8 months, you can give your baby lumpier foods, in bigger chops and even try soft toast. Remember never to leave your baby on his own while eating, due to risk of choking.

Around 9 months, you can introduce finger foods, like cheese sticks and breadsticks and, basically whatever you eat, in small, chopped up portions.

What should you avoid while weaning your baby?

You should avoid feeding your baby the following food items:

  • raw or undercooked eggs,
  • peanuts,
  • soft cheeses or cheeses containing live bacteria (such as Danish Blue, brie),
  • goat's cheese,
  • goat's milk,
  • honey,
  • salt
  • sugar,
  • artificial sweeteners,
  • citrus fruits,
  • shellfish,
  • gluten (rye, oats, barley, wheat)
  • low-fat foods

You should encourage your baby to try a varied diet, based on breast or formula milk, followed by a savoury meal at lunch time and a fruit puree at dinner time instead of a pudding. If you offer your baby sweets straight from the start, he is likely to start refusing the savoury food, the meat and veggies or even the fruits you offer him.

Should I decrease the milk supply?

No. Around 7-8 months, you will notice your baby will start drinking less and less milk and have a greater appetite for solids. This is normal. Just follow your baby's demand and, as long as you ensure he is getting at least a pint of milk a day (not necessarily from the bottle or sippy cup, but mixed with cereal or rice, too), everything should be fine.

Why is my baby constipated?

Constipation is quite common in babies starting solids and it can be usually cured by increasing the amount of fluid and fibre your baby is getting. To avoid constipation, you can try giving your baby

  • more fluids through the day - water is the best, but juice is a good option too, besides the usual amount of milk he's having;
  • more fruits, such as mashed apple and pears;
  • other high fibre foods, such as cereals,
  • an orange squeeze drink, made with 5 parts water and 1 part orange squeeze, but only if really needed, as this drink can irritate the baby's intestines.

If after two days, there is still no stool, contact your GP or HV for advice.

How to encourage my baby to eat solids?

Make solids fun, by choosing coloured foods, coloured plates and cutlery, choosing different locations (such as the garden), playing a game, involving the toddler in the preparation of the food, inviting one of his friends in for a snack. Keep meal times relaxed and informal. Experts agree that relaxed parents tend to raise healthier children than the stick-by-the-rules type.

If your child associates food with something positive and enjoyable, it's likely that food will become a normal routine in his life, rather than a stressful time that both you and your baby have to put up with.

Read more about bottle feeding and breastfeeding on our website.