When should I start weaning my baby?
UK Government guidelines suggest waiting until 6 months before introducing solid foods, and some useful advice can be found on the NHS website. We suggest doing your homework first so you feel fully prepared for the exciting journey ahead!
What are the top signs that my baby is ready?
Of course every baby is different and you will know your baby better than anyone, but there are three very clear signs which, together, might demonstrate that your baby is ready to try solid foods alongside their usual formula or breast milk.
1. They can stay in a sitting position, holding their head steady.
2. They can coordinate their eyes, hands and mouth which means that they are able to see food, pick it up and put it in their mouth
3. They are able to swallow food. If they are not yet ready, they will simply push food back out with their tongue.
If you try solid foods, but your baby doesn’t seem quite ready then don’t panic! Just try again when you spot the signs above.
It’s easy to mistake other signs such as chewing fists, waking in the night and wanting extra milk feeds as signs that they are ready for solid foods, but these are normal behaviours and not necessarily a sign of hunger. Unfortunately starting solid foods does not make your baby any more likely to sleep through the night!
Which approach is right for me?
There are two main approaches to weaning and most parents will naturally adopt or evolve into the one that feels right for them and their baby. There are ups and downs to both, but the most important thing is that you feel comfortable with the approach that you choose and that your baby is able to explore a wide variety of tastes, flavours and textures to help them develop a healthy and varied palette and a happy relationship with food.
Baby Led Weaning
The Baby Led Weaning (BLW) approach advocates letting your baby feed themselves with soft, solid finger foods from the very beginning of weaning, rather than introducing food using purees and weaning spoons. The idea is that baby explores food at their own pace and learns to manage lumps and chew from the beginning. As with traditional weaning, it is suitable from around six months.
Often parents might simply follow this approach naturally, particularly with second or later children as babies love to copy their siblings and to grab food from other people’s plates!
What is baby-led weaning and when should I start?
If you decide that this is the approach for you, you can begin offering your baby a selection of nutritious finger foods suitable for their age. Check out our blog 5 best finger foods for baby-led weaning.
The best time to do this is when you are eating as a family, so baby can join in too! The easiest foods for babies are those which are easy to grasp such as bread fingers, cooked vegetables, soft fruit sticks and pasta shapes. Ideal first finger foods should be big enough for baby to hold in their fist with some left sticking out of the top.
Your baby may just play with the food at first or grab pieces with his fist and suck them. Don’t worry too much as they will carry on getting the nutrients and energy they need from their usual milk feeds in between mealtimes.
The benefits of each approach
Take a look at our blog post Baby Led Weaning vs Spoon Fed Weaning where we explore the benefits and downsides of both approaches to weaning in more detail.
Despite all the benefits of the Baby Led Weaning approach, there is no denying that letting baby feed themselves is a messy business! It can involve a lot of wasted food and can also be difficult to know how much food your baby has actually eaten (as opposed to dropping onto the floor and hiding inside their highchair!)
The Tidy Tot Bib & Tray Kit has been designed by a UK mum of three to completely eliminate the problem of food falling onto the floor, into the highchair and onto baby’s lap and clothes – taking all the mess and stress out of weaning your baby.
“The Tidy Tot is a really innovative idea for containing the inevitable mess that happens when babies feed themselves. I defy any baby wearing the Tidy Tot to sweep food onto the floor or get it down inside their highchair!”
Spoon Fed Weaning
Often described as a more traditional weaning approach, this involves offering your baby pureed foods on a spoon, progressing to mashed/chopped textures over the next couple of months and introducing finger foods at around 7-8 months.
The advantages are that it can be easier to introduce iron-rich foods such as meat and leafy green vegetables as these are often difficult for babies to chew. Making your own purees is really easy to do and you know exactly how much your baby is eating. It can also be convenient to buy pureed baby food in jars and pouches for times when you are short on time or eating out.
Take a look at our blog post The Best First Purees for weaning for some ideas of how to get started introducing your baby to their first tastes and flavours.
Our blog post Baby Led Weaning vs Spoon Fed Weaning explores some more advantages and disadvantages to both approaches and may help you to decide on the most suitable route for you and your baby.
Whatever your approach to weaning, the Tidy Tot Bib & Tray Kit provides the perfect platform for your baby to enjoy learning about food without all the mess and stress!