All the signs your little one is ready to start weaning

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Weaning your child onto solid foods usually begins when they are around six months old. It brings new tastes and textures to your little one’s meals – and as children learn to feed themselves, it gives their fine motor skills a boost.

But how do you know if your child is ready to start weaning?

The wonders of weaning

Every child’s first encounter with food is breastmilk or formula milk, as it contains all the nutrients needed to help children develop and grow. Even when you begin introducing solid food, it’s important your child still has milk until at least their first birthday.

The NHS recommends you do not start weaning your child until they are six months old, which gives their digestive systems time to develop. It is also the age when they may have reached these important developmental milestones:

  • Able to sit upright unsupervised or supported in a highchair
  • Can hold their head steady
  • Have fine motor skills that allow hand-to-mouth coordination.

Remember, all children develop at different rates. They don’t need to be an expert at each of these skills to try weaning.

Weaning checklist

Gather some baby-friendly equipment before you get started – protect your plates at all cost!

You’ll need:

  • A highchair or baby seat – little ones should always be sat upright when eating solid food
  • Plastic or bamboo bowls and plates – some come with suction cups underneath so they can be stuck down to highchair trays
  • Small spoons – ideally bamboo or plastic, but metal teaspoons work just fine
  • Baby-sized food containers – to store leftover meals or pre-prepared food
  • Wipe-clean bibs – it will get messy!

Always keep a roll of kitchen towels or some baby wipes nearby.

Take it one meal at a time

Only introduce your child to one new food at a time. This gives your baby chance to adjust – and helps you look out for signs of potential allergies or intolerances.

Always introduce soft solid foods first (or pre-made food that’s designed to melt in the mouth) and chop things like fruit or vegetables into small pieces to reduce the risk of choking.

Here are our top foods to try at each mealtime:

  • Breakfast – porridge made using breastmilk or formula
  • Snack time – shop-bought healthy wafers or a banana cut into thin slices
  • Lunch – melt-in-the-mouth vegetable crisps from the shops or small cubes of bread with low-fat spread
  • Dinner – sweet potato mash and soft vegetable sticks, like carrot or parsnip
  • Pudding – low-fat yoghurt or crushed berries

When little ones become more confident with solid food, why not blend a version of your own dinner for them to try? It’s a great way to disguise fussy foods like carrots and broccoli.

Ready to give weaning a go?

If you think your little one is ready, try them on one solid food and see how they get on. It’s normal for them to spit out food at first, but keep trying for as long as they’re happy to.

For more top tips to keep your child happy and healthy, check out our healthy snack ideas.

15 May, 2024