Updated: Oct 13
After months of your baby being nourished purely by milk, at around six to eight months they will be ready to begin exploring solid foods. Up until six months breast milk or infant formula provides your baby with all the nutrients they need but gradually after this point your baby will begin to need more calories.
The term "weaning' is, I think, a bit misleading. Your baby will not suddenly stop having milk, in fact milk will form a large part of their diet for several more months. I prefer the term "introduction to solids" as this is exactly what you are doing; getting your baby used to the new tastes and textures of solid food in preparation for the time when they need it to sustain healthy growth and development.
So, how will you know when your baby is ready for solid food?
Just because they have reached six months old does not necessarily mean your baby needs to start food there and then. The guidelines say 'around' six months and every baby will be following their own unique path. However, there are a few signs to look out for to know when it's time to make a start:
Your baby can sit up with minimal support;
Your baby can support their head well;
Your baby can pick up objects and bring them to their mouth
When trying solids, your baby can make chewing movements and swallow, rather than pushing the food back out using their tongue.
There are also some 'signs' that parents may mistake for being ready which may be due to other things:
Waking up in the night more
Wanting extra milk feeds during the day
Although these may be signs, if these are the only things which make you think your baby is ready for solids, they are probably for another reason such as teething, illness, growth spurt, the beginnings of separation anxiety or just a slight change in routine.
It is also worth noting that there is no evidence to support the idea that giving solids will help your baby sleep through the night - sorry folks, just saying!