Your little one’s journey to eating well is not just about good nutrition – it’s also about experiencing wonderful new flavors, colors and textures and practicing the essential motor skills required for eating. Babies are never too young to learn that food is fun, so make the transition from breastmilk or formula to solid food simple, easy and joyful.
Expect crunching, munching and slurping as well as dribbling, throwing and playing! Yes, weaning your baby can be messy and frustrating but watching them explore new foods and learn to feed themselves is just as exciting for you as it is for them. Follow our tips on how to start weaning your baby.
1. Decide When To Start Weaning Your Baby
How do you know when you can start feeding your baby solids? Well, the World Health Organization recommends that breast milk or formula is the foundation of your baby’s diet through their first year and advises introducing solid foods at six months, when breast milk alone no longer meets growing babies’ nutritional needs. Experts advise against starting before six months because their digestive systems aren’t yet mature enough to handle solids.
You’ll be able to notice developmental changes as your baby becomes ready to wean. Are they sitting confidently and able to hold their head up? Are they trying to grab food off your plate and watching what you’re doing at mealtimes? Make sure they’re fully supported by popping them in their own high chair – get inspired with our round-up of the best high chairs 2022.
2. Gradually Wean Your Baby From Breastfeeding
When considering how to wean your baby from breastfeeding, remember that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It’s perfectly fine for it to happen gradually – quitting abruptly can cause breast discomfort, engorgement, blocked ducts and mastitis.
If you have a well-established milk supply, reduce the frequency of nursing and your clever body will adjust accordingly, maintaining your milk supply for nursing even just once or twice a day. And your baby will be much happier than having to suddenly go without, too.
3. Pick The Right Foods
Once you’ve decided when to start offering baby’s first bites, you can get to work on the fun stuff: what to feed your baby. Offer simple foods, like soft fruit, cooked vegetables or baby cereal, and work towards a diet that contains a variety of nutritious foods, such as scrambled eggs, tender chunks of meat or fish, slices of cheese or a dollop of yogurt.
Avoid salty and sugary processed foods, which can lead to high blood pressure later on and tooth decay. Want to make cooking for your baby super-easy? Try the BEABA Babycook Baby Food Maker.
4. How to wean a baby: spoon fed and baby led
You can spoon feed your baby purees or allow them to self-feed soft foods (or do both). If you decide to start with spoon feeding your child purees, let your baby control the pace of feeding and decide when they want another spoonful and when they’re full. You can batch-cook and freeze tiny portions of pureed food in ice cube trays or in these neat little freezer storage containers to get ahead of the game.
Baby-led weaning is when little ones skip the purees and explore feeding themselves solid foods. This approach may encourage more adventurous eating, improve awareness of fullness cues and help motor skills. Make it even more exciting for your baby by giving them their own plate – we love the EZPZ Mini Mat, an all-in-one placemat and plate that suctions to the table (no tipped bowls!) and encourages infants to feed themselves.
To begin with, serve soft foods, such as banana, slices of ripe pear or sticks of toast with nut butter or hummus spread on top, in easy-to-grasp pieces.
5. Don’t Forget Something To Drink
Offer your little one water from an open cup, or a sippy cup if you want to reduce spillages. The BEABA Stainless Steel Straw Sippy Cup is handy because it keeps liquids cold for 10 hours and warm for five hours – perfect if you’re out and about. Avoid sodas, milkshakes and fruit juice – these drinks are high in sugar and will cause tooth decay. Your baby can only drink cow’s milk from 12 months (it’s hard to digest) but it’s fine to use in cooking.
6. Start Off Small
Offer a small amount of mashed or pureed food on a spoon or some easy-to-grab, soft slices of fruit. Make sure it’s cool enough – test before you give it to your baby.
Remember, a baby’s primary source of nutrition will still be breastmilk or formula milk, so don’t panic if they’re not wolfing down great big bowlfuls of food in the first few weeks. It’s all about exploring and adventuring together.
7. Watch them learn new skills
Don’t worry if it takes your baby a few meals to work out how to swallow – they’ll work it out with practice.
Gagging is very normal with babies - they are figuring out how to regulate the amount of food they are able to chew and swallow in one go. Make it fun by letting them hold the spoon or feed themselves if they want to. If they don’t seem interested, don’t force them. Just try again the next day – and stay calm!