With more solids on the menu, your little one is likely to want less milk. So how do you strike a balance between milk and meals?
As your baby’s appetite for solid food increases, you’re likely to notice that he’s less enthusiastic about his milk. It’s natural for him to reduce the amount of milk he takes as he starts to get more of his calories from his meals. He may stop draining his bottles or have shorter breastfeeds than usual, or start to miss a feed out completely. Although this is a normal part of the weaning process, milk is still a source of vital nutrients for your baby, so it’s important to continue to offer him his regular breastfeeds or 500-600ml of formula each day.
With your baby reducing his milk feeds, you may need to introduce other drinks and healthy snacks to replace a bottle or breastfeed – the mid-morning or mid-afternoon feed is usually the first to be dropped. If you’re concerned that he’s not taking enough milk, you can boost his calcium intake by offering him calcium-rich snacks such as cubes of cheese, a yoghurt or fromage frais.
Now is also a good time to think about introducing a cup to your baby. To promote good dental hygiene and speech development, he should ideally be weaned off the bottle by 12 months, so the sooner you get him used to drinking from a cup, the better.
Because your baby is growing so fast, he needs more fat in his diet than an adult. Make sure you give him lots of nutrient-packed foods like meat, cheese and eggs as well as fruit and vegetable purees, and choose full-fat versions of products such as yoghurt to keep him growing at a healthy rate.
Although your baby is likely to be reducing his milk intake, it’s normal for there to be times when he refuses his meals and only wants milk. This often happens if your little one is feeling unwell or is teething, and craving the comfort of a bottle or breastfeed. It can take a while for your baby to get back on track with solids after a blip like this, so be patient and take it slowly. Continue to offer him meals at regular times, and aim to avoid giving him milk right before a mealtime so that he doesn’t fill up too quickly his bottle or breastfeed.
The early stages of weaning are all about trial and error, and some babies are less enthusiastic about solids than others, but your aim is for your baby to be eating a balanced diet with three meals a day and regular snacks by 12 months. If your baby persistently refuses purees in favour of milk, it’s worth having a word with your health visitor. Among other strategies, she may recommend giving him a vitamin supplement to ensure he’s not missing out on important vitamins or minerals.
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