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.

A baby being fed with a spoon

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 6 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 keep up milk or formula feeds until your baby is at least a 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 you 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 prep involved with baby-led weaning. And because the whole family can eat together, it can feel more sociable.

  • Cut foods into grabbable 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, meat and fish.
  • Avoid small, hard foods, which can cause choking (nuts, raw fruit and veg, and whole grapes).

Puree/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.

  • Start by giving very soft (mashed or blended) foods on a spoon.
  • Gradually introduce more texture and lumpy foods.
  • Eventually, you can offer bite-size bits of solid food.
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