Just as you get the hang of milk feeds - it's time for another change in your baby's routine; the introduction of solids. As with any milestone, it can feel like there's a lot to think about (or even worry about), but in reality, introducing your baby to food can be straightforward and enjoyable.
Here are our top tips for successful weaning:
Weaning is a gradual process, so don't expect your baby to wake up one morning and be ready to eat three meals a day. To begin with, it's simply about exploring food together and getting your baby used to the idea of eating. Milk should be the mainstay of their diet until they're a year old.
Wait for the signs
There's no rush. Weaning should start when your baby is around six months old. It's very important to wait until they're ready - if you're not sure, ask yourself these questions:
- Can my baby sit and hold his head up properly?
- Is my baby able to pick up food and put it in his mouth by himself?
- Can my baby swallow? Babies who are not ready for food will push it back out again with their tongue; getting more on their face than in their mouths.
If the answer is yes to all three, you can start giving your baby their first foods. Be careful not to confuse hunger with chewing fists, wanting extra feeds or waking in the night after previously sleeping through - these are all normal behaviours when baby is going through change.
Ideal first foods
Mashed or cooked vegetables like carrot or sweet potato, or soft fruit like bananas and peaches, are good foods to start your baby on. You can also try baby cereal or rice mixed with your baby's milk. When your baby's got used to these foods, you can move on to soft cooked meats, pasta, toast and full fat dairy snacks such as yoghurt.
As your baby approaches nine months old, they'll be moving towards three small meals a day; a mixture of soft finger foods and mashed or chopped food. By a year, he will probably be eating three small meals a day with a few (healthy) snacks in between. These meals will gradually replace milk feeds, but remember if your baby is ill or recovering from illness, he may not feel hungry and may prefer milk.
Time for a drink
Once your baby is around six months old you can also introduce a cup or beaker of water with meals. It's best not to use a bottle or anything with a teat; use a free flowing beaker or even hold an open cup to their mouths, so they learn to sip. As soon as your baby's ready, move from lidded beakers to open cups.