The government advises that weaning should start at around 6 months. However, it is widely acknowledged and accepted by health professionals that you can start from 4 months if you think your baby is ready. If you do start early, there are a few things you should bear in mind:
- Don’t start before 17 weeks, your baby’s immune system and gut may not be developed enough to cope with food
- The current advice is being reviewed and may change soon
- Discuss any concerns with your health visitor first
If you do start at around 4 months, it’s best to take things at a slow pace. For the first week or so offer a little fruit or vegetable puree with no added salt or sugar or baby rice made with their usual milk. Just a few teaspoonfuls are enough to start with. Some mothers find that starting on baby rice made with their baby’s usual milk works well, as it is less of a dramatic taste difference from the milk they are used to.
Signs that your baby may be ready include:
- When they can sit up on their own
- If they are rejecting breast or formula milk
- If they seem like they are impossible to satisfy
- When they reach for foods
- When they want to chew objects and put things into their mouth
Your first experience of weaning may not go smoothly, don’t be surprised if your baby spits out the food, refuses it or cries. Don’t panic, this is very normal, just try again later. There isn’t a right or wrong time to try offering a food for the first time - all babies are different.
- You could try before a scheduled feed. Being hungry, this could be the perfect opportunity to try offering your baby a few mouthfuls of food
- You could try after a scheduled feed. Some babies will be too grumpy to try something new if they are feeling hungry, so try cutting a feed short and offer a few mouthfuls of food at the end
- If your baby is too sleepy or content after a feed, try between feeds instead