How to Start Weaning: 5 Top Tips from an Infant Nutritionist
I have run NHS weaning workshops on how to start weaning, written the Cow & Gate 5 Step Weaning Plan on how to start weaning, and run countless online and in person workshops on how to start weaning.
It's a topic that never ends, and I absolutely love talking about.
Because people WORRY!
What should I start with?
When should I start?
What if they are allergic?
What if they choke?
If I start with the wrong thing will it mess up my baby’s relationship with food?
What if I get it wrong?
My friends are doing baby-led, should I be?
My mum is telling to start now but I don’t want to?
Where do I even begin?
When we get bombarded with information and questions, it’s easy to freeze and be caught in indecision. Really, starting weaning should be an enjoyable and memorable stage in your baby’s first year. Yes there are some recommendations to bear in mind, and yes there are a few things to try and steer clear of, but it really isn’t as complex or as scary as it can be built up to be.
You can always read more, but if there are only 5 points you remember for how to start weaning, then let it be these.
What is the best age to wean a baby?
It’s a guide, a couple of weeks either side will be fine, just not before 17 weeks (4 months), and not too much beyond 7 months.
What is the first step in weaning?
Simply look for all the signs of readiness to show up together.
Sitting & holding head steady, good hand-eye-mouth coordination, and food stays in the mouth when offered.
If only one sign is there, they aren't ready!
Want to double-check the signs your baby is ready for food? Read this next.
What foods should you start weaning with?
Start with veg and keep it varied.
Bring in the sweeter stuff later on, they won’t say no.
Offering stronger bitter tastes early on might help them to be more accepting of new foods.
BUT. It doesn't matter too much. Those early days are for exploring and nothing you do now will fix your baby's eating habits for life.
Hearing a lot about baby rice from family members? This post will help you decide if baby rice is right for your baby.
Can you overfeed a weaning baby?
No, and yes. Follow your baby's lead. This is the best advice I can ever give when it comes to weaning.
Babies are great at recognising their own hunger and fullness cues, and your task is to notice what they are telling you and to listen.
Whether you choose puree or finger foods, traditional or baby led weaning, go at your baby’s pace and don’t force it.
If they seem interested in having a bit more food, offer it. And when they show signs off being full, trust them, and stop.
How do I stay calm when introducing solids?
Relax. Breathe, smile, take a photo and enjoy it. There’s a lifetime to stress about the mess, enjoy the moment.
That sounds simple enough, but we're all different and our own experiences around food can start to show up in weaning. If you notice that you are feeling more anxious than others when it comes to giving your baby food, reach out to someone who can listen and help.
For some this might be seeking support from a nutritionist to get that reassurance on what's normal. For others it could be getting your partner or friend to be around the first few times you offer food. Whatever it is, it's fine if it helps you create a calm and relaxed environment for your baby to eat.
Still unsure about how to start weaning?
I'm here to help - send me an email to book in for a 1:1 chat about how things are going, and what we can do to make your weaning journey more enjoyable.