How do I start weaning?

Weaning is the process of introducing your baby to soft or solid foods while reducing milk feeds. Your baby is likely to be ready for solid foods from around six months old.

Milk and formula feeds

Keep up your regular breast milk or formula feeds when you start weaning. They’ll provide most of the nutrition your baby needs.

If you’re breastfeeding, keep doing so on demand and let your baby decide when they don’t need any more. Reducing feeds slowly also helps a mother’s body adapt to producing less milk. If you’re using formula, a six to 12-month-old baby needs 500-600ml per day while weaning.

Gradually reduce the number of milk feeds as your baby starts to eat more solid foods. Milk feeds are a source of comfort and security, not just nutrition. When you drop a feed, try to offer other forms of reassurance (like hugs) instead.

The NHS advice is to continue milk or formula feeds until your baby is at least one year old.

Weaning styles

Weaning helps your baby develop chewing and swallowing reflexes. There are two main styles: baby-led weaning, and puree (spoon) feeding. Lots of parents try both, sometimes at the same meal.

Whichever you use, the early stages are about letting your baby have fun with new flavours and sensations.

Baby-led weaning

With baby-led weaning, you give your baby finger foods to handle and eat at their own pace. As well as learning to feed themselves, they learn how to stop eating when they’re full.

There’s less preparation involved with baby-led weaning. And because the whole family can eat together, it can feel more sociable. It can help to:

  • Cut foods into strips about the length of your index finger.
  • Start with soft fruit and vegetables, like avocado or ripe banana.
  • Work up to bits of toast, pitta bread and meat.
  • Avoid small, hard foods (nuts, raw fruit and vegetables, whole grapes and popcorn), which can cause choking.

Puree or spoon-feeding

With spoon feeding, you lead the way. This can make mealtimes less messy. Your baby may also be less likely to gag or struggle to chew. Some parents find it easier to introduce tricky flavours by spoon first.

You can:

  • Start by giving very soft (mashed or blended) foods on a spoon.
  • Gradually introduce more textured and lumpy foods.
  • Offer bite-size bits of solid food once you feel your child is ready.
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This advice was written by our experienced Parent Talk coaches. Parent Talk is a free online service for parents and carers, provided by the charity Action for Children. For more advice, message our parenting coaches with our online chat.

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