Ulula Guide to Weaning Your Baby From Breastfeeding

Have you noticed your little one watching you avidly while you eat? Their new interest in what the grownups are eating is a common sign that they’re ready to try solid food.

Introducing your baby to new flavours and textures is a really exciting and rewarding time for you both – but of course you want to make sure that everything goes as smoothly as possible for your growing little one.

Put down a floor mat and grab the cloths: here’s our guide to moving on from breastmilk to solid foods.

What is weaning?

Weaning means to introduce your baby to new foods alongside their usual milk (breast or early formula). When your little one reaches around six months old, they no longer get everything they need from milk, and it’s time to start expanding the menu.

It’s a myth that weaning means the end of breastfeeding (the World Health organisation advice is definitely to keep going!). The weaning period is about gradually changing the balance of food and milk over the next few months, increasing solid food while cutting down on milk feeds.

We’re using the conventional term “solid foods” here to differentiate food from milk feeds. In fact, early eating is anything but solid, and your young diner will mostly be tucking into pureed rather than literally solid food.

Is my baby ready to start weaning?

Most babies first try solid food at about six months, as this is the developmental stage where they need energy and nutrients that they won’t get from an all-milk diet. Larger and more energetic babies may need weaning slightly earlier, and will start showing signs that they’re ready to move on.

What are the signs that your baby is ready to try solid food? You may notice them:

    • Chewing their fists
    • Needing extra feeds
    • Waking more in the night
    • Watching your food, and possibly trying to reach for it

Basically, they’re telling you that they’re a bit hungry! This is a great sign, and means you’re ready to try the new feeding stage together.
Just please note: a baby is never ready for weaning before four months, so if you see these signs in a younger babe, speak with your GP or health visitor.

How do we start weaning?

When your baby seems ready, choose a time of day when your baby is happy and alert, and before a breastfeed. Sit them securely in an upright high chair. You’ll need a bib, a mat, a weaning spoon and a little bowl. Don’t expect your little one to actually eat much: the first few days are mostly about discovering the feel of food in their mouths.

Try offering them a bit of puree on a spoon. They may push it straight out again with their tongue, or their eyes might light up in a “Yes! Finally!” sort of way. Just aim for a couple of spoonfuls once a day at first, and don’t feel you have to offer a varied menu. It can be best to get them used to a single taste before moving on to discover favourites.

We’ve written a complete guide to the different weaning stages: take a look before you start on your new foodie journey.

What are the best weaning foods?

Honestly, trying new foods with your baby is great fun (their expressions are priceless!). But, slowly does it, and don’t bombard them with different flavours all in a rush. Pureed Apple,Carrot and Parsnips all tend to go down well (babies naturally seem to like sweeter tastes). If you’re feeding them something like baby rice, remember to mix it with breastmilk or formula, as cow’s milk is still a no-no until they’re a year old.

Don’t feel that you have to puree everything, as some babies prefer the cooked finger food option to being fed (just watch them very closely!). A stick of well cooked carrot is great to suck on, and gives baby a great chance to practise feeding themselves.

We’ve put together some great tried-and-tested weaning recipes for your baby to try. Let us know what they think! You can also find out more about our delicious baby foods for six-month-old infants.

Can I still breastfeed my baby?

Yes, you certainly can, and it’s recommended that if it’s going well, you continue breastfeeding well into your baby’s second year. Everyone is different, and it’s important that you follow what’s best for your own family and circumstances.

Some mums find it trickier to breastfeed if they go back to work. Pumping and storing breastmilk is a possibility, as is switching to a suitable infant formula, for at least some of the feeds. An organic follow-on formula is a good alternative to breastmilk for babies of six months and upwards.

What other drinks can I give my baby?

At six months, you can also let your baby try some sips of cool boiled water. Use a simple sippy cup to get them used to the sensation (don’t choose one with a valve as this makes it much harder for the baby).

For babies over six months, tap water is fine (and in fact, is better than bottled water). There’s no need to boil it first. When you start weaning, water is very much an extra, as most of their liquid intake will still come from their milk feeds.

The Importance of Family Mealtime

When families sit down and eat meals together they have the chance to chat and socialise and to develop and strengthen their relationships. Parents have the opportunity to model the kind of behaviour they would like to see at the meal table as well as encourage a healthy attitude to food.

When families include their baby in their family mealtime routines from the very beginning of weaning, it becomes second nature for the growing baby and child to accept all this, to naturally develop the good habits you want to see and for them to learn some essential lifeskills. So, include your weaning baby in family meals and give him or her a first class education!

We hope that you enjoy your weaning journey together. It’s the start of a great big adventure for the whole family!

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