Weaning is something every baby has to go through, and it’s something parents tend to view with a mixture of trepidation and excitement at the same time. After all, it’s a challenge but it also means your little one can explore all sorts of new textures and tastes.
In fact, this is the best way to approach baby weaning. It marks an important milestone in your baby’s young life, and many of the preferences they develop as they explore new foods for the first time will stay with them for many years to come. Of course, the weaning process will have plenty of nervy moments for you too, but that’s the joy of parenting!
Every child is different, and there’s no one-size-fits-all blueprint when it comes to weaning. There are, however, a few general rules to bear in mind which can help you along the way in those very earliest stages. Here are our top tips on how to wean a baby.
Knowing when it’s time to start
The first thing you’ll need to get to grips with is working out the right time to start weaning your little one. Official NHS guidelines instruct you to wait until your baby reaches the age of six months to start weaning them.
It’s especially important to remember that at this tender age, your baby’s digestive system is still developing, and if you introduce them to the wrong foods too soon, they may be prone to allergies and infections. This is why you should wait, as the guidelines state, until at least six months before starting to wean your child.
However, as we’ve already mentioned, every baby is unique, and the weaning process is no exception. Premature babies should be weaned in consultation with a health professional. There are a few other signs you should look out for when trying to determine whether your baby is ready to start weaning. These include:
- steady head and neck control
- the ability to sit upright unsupported
- a willingness to put objects in their mouth.
What weaning equipment do I need?
Before you start the process of introducing your baby to solid food, you’ll need to make sure that you’ve got the right feeding and weaning equipment to hand. Food preparation devices are particularly useful, saving you time and effort – so steamers, blenders and food processors are all really handy for busy parents.
In addition, you’ll need a generous supply of children’s cutlery, cups and beakers, and plates and bowls to hand. These are all designed to be more robust and hardwearing than typical cutlery and tableware, as well as being easier for little hands to grip on to. And you can rest assured that there will be spillages galore, so don’t forget the bibs!
Choosing baby weaning foods
The priority in the initial stages of weaning is simply to get your baby used to the idea of eating solid foods, so don’t fret too much about what foods they take to and which ones they don’t – there’ll be a lot of trial and error involved!
In this early phase of baby weaning, try introducing your little one to pureed foods. Keep it simple: try fruit and vegetable purees like carrot and sweet potato, or apple and pear. At this stage, it’s wise to avoid flavours that are likely to be too strong or bitter. Once your baby is more comfortable with solids, you can then start to introduce them slowly but surely to new tastes.
Foods to avoid at this time include honey (unsuitable before the age of one year, as it can contain botulism), salt and salty foods including bacon, nuts (unless very finely ground) and added sugar.
The importance of weaning in a young child’s life is paramount: it’s a key rite of passage. Of course, there’ll be ups and downs along the way, but so long as you stay patient and pay attention to what your baby’s trying to tell you, you should both get through the weaning process without any major dramas. Good luck!