How to Wean a Baby

Article By
Anna
Published On
14 Feb, 2024
Read Time
5 minutes

The truth is, weaning is an important step in a baby's development - but each little one's weaning journey is different, and there are a few different weaning styles that parents can choose from.

Let's run through how and when mums, dads and caregivers can start weaning their baby, what they can feed them, and cover a few of our top tips to help things go smoothly.

When to wean a baby

Most little ones are ready to start weaning when they're around six months old. It's best to wait until this age as before the six-month mark, they'll be getting all the nutrients they need from breast milk or formula.

By six months of age, most babies are developed enough to be able to cope with solid foods and learn how to feed themselves. They'll also be starting to become better at moving food around their mouths using their tiny tongues and developing teeth.

Signs your baby is ready for weaning

Some little ones may be ready for weaning sooner or later than others, but you can look out for these tell-tale signs to know when your little one is ready to start weaning:

  • They're able to sit upright with minimal support
  • They can grasp objects
  • They have good hand-eye coordination and can bring food to their mouth
  • They show an interest in food
  • They can swallow food instead of spitting it back up

It's good to be aware that some normal baby behaviours, such as wanting extra feeds or chewing their fists, aren't usually indicators that a baby is ready to start weaning.

How long does weaning take?

The truth is, weaning is a very personal process that's different for each parent and baby. It can take days, weeks, or months to move a baby on from breast milk or formula feeds, and parents often continue to give milk feeds while they're weaning their baby on to solids.

It's important to note that babies shouldn't have cow's milk until the age of 12 months.

How to start weaning a baby

There are several steps within the weaning journey. Let's run through what each stage entails.

What you'll need for weaning a baby

Caregivers and parents should stock up on the following bits and bobs to ensure that their weaning journey goes as smoothly as possible:

Deciding your weaning style

There are a couple of different approaches to weaning a baby. Some parents:

  • Opt for traditional weaning, which involves offering purees and mashed food until their little one's teeth appear
  • Go for the baby-led weaning approach, when the baby takes the lead and feeds themselves!
  • Use a combination of the two - spoon feeding and BLW (baby-led weaning).

There's no right or wrong way to wean! The most important thing is that you choose a method that's right for you and your baby.

Choosing the best foods for weaning

When you first start weaning, it's good to begin by offering your baby soft or pureed fruit and veg. You can then move onto chopped soft batons of food, which can be easily squashed but are sturdy enough for your little one to hold. These should be roughly the shape and size of an adult finger to help them easily be gripped.

It's important to always consider your little one's safety when choosing weaning foods to lower the risk of choking, so remember to:

  • Chop and prepare foods as needed to make them safe
  • Remove tough skins, seeds, pips and peels
  • Slice smaller, round fruits like strawberries or grapes into quarters
  • Move through finger foods gradually to allow time for new skills to develop

Recipe Library

We've teamed up with Dietican Lucy Upton to create some healthy and tasty weaning recipes for you to try!

DISCOVER RECIPES

What are the stages of weaning?

Let's break down the stages of weaning and what's involved at each step.

Stage 1: First solid foods from six months

From six months, your baby will begin to show signs that they're ready to wean. At this stage, they should be given a small amount of food before or after a milk feed and at a time when they're likely to not be too hungry or tired. Types of food given to them at this stage can include soft sticks or florets of vegetables, soft fruits, and natural yoghurt.  Start with just one feed of solid foods a day, which can include purees or soft finger foods.

You can also begin to give them food items which could potentially trigger allergic reactions. It's important that these are introduced in very small quantities and just one at a time, so you're able to monitor any reactions.

Stage 2: Exploring new flavours from seven to nine months  

As you reach the second stage of your weaning journey, you can start to offer three meals a day. These meals should be varied, as well as including iron rich-foods like legumes, dark leafy green, and whole grains.

During these months, you can introduce a wider range of tastes and textures by offering lumpier foods and herbs and spices. You should give your little one milk feeds responsively.

Stage 3: Feeding themselves from 10 months to one year

Between 10 and 12 months, you can continue to offer milk feeds responsively alongside giving your baby three meals a day. These can be a smaller, simpler version of family meals (with no added salt or sugar).

Your little one will now be able to chew food properly. You'll also notice that their pincer grip starts to develop, meaning they'll be able to pick up smaller pieces of food.

Top weaning tips

  1. Learn how to spot the difference between choking and gagging
  2. If one weaning method isn't working well for you, don't be afraid to branch out and try something new, like different finger foods or offering food on a spoon
  3. Let your baby get messy. The truth is, mess is a BIG part of weaning and happens as a baby explores new textures and learns to use their hands and mouth in new ways
  4. Eat your meals when you offer your baby their food to lead by example
  5. Sit your baby at or close to the table in their highchair so they feel included during mealtimes
  6. Continue to offer foods even if they don't seem to like them. However, if they start turning away, shutting their mouth, or arching their back, you should stop. Remember, it can take up to 10 tastes for a baby to decide if they dislike something or not, so be patient and don't force it