10 tips for successful weaning
1. Take it slow on the first few days
Introduce solid food slowly into your baby’s diet, starting with one serving per day: see our day-by-day weaning guide for more tips. Think about the time you’re going to start feeding and choose a time when you and your baby are relaxed.
Last feed of the day is not a good time, as you’ll both be tired and in the early morning he may be too hungry, so around mid-morning or lunchtime is often a successful time to try.
2. Make sure he’s not full
Start with half a milk feed and then offer your solid food, so your baby isn’t too hungry or too full. But make sure your baby isn’t furious that you’ve just pulled him off the breast or bottle!
3. Make it easy to eat
Start with something really digestible such as baby rice. Mix with your breastmilk or formula so that your baby recognises the taste. However, move on quickly to more tasty offerings, such as puréed apple, pear, carrot or sweet potato.
4. Remember, solid food is brand new
Don’t fret if he holds food in his mouth or spits it out. This is a brand new experience for him and he needs to get used to the feeling of food in his mouth.
Sucking is a natural reflex, but swallowing solids is something babies need to learn. When a baby sucks, he pushes his tongue forward, so it’s normal for food to be spat out.
5. New tastes one at a time
In the early days, offer one or two new tastes every couple of days. Once your baby is happy with these, introduce new foods and then start mixing different foods together to make tasty purees.
6. He won’t like everything
If he really turns up his nose (or screws up his face) at a particular taste, don’t force him to eat something he really doesn’t like. But also don’t give up. Wait for a week or two and then try introducing it again – his tastes are changing and developing day by day.
7. Give yourself a break
If you’re finding it difficult to keep up with all the hours of chopping, cooking and pureeing, remember that there are lots of great, healthy ready-made baby foods available on the shelves of supermarkets to combine with home-made food. It can be a great way of introducing tastes you haven’t thought of. Baby food is clearly labelled so choose the right stage for your baby.
8. His poo will change
Don’t get worried when you look in his nappy after you’ve started weaning – his poo will be different, both in looks and smell! If he’s eaten a portion of pureed carrots, expect his poo to have an orange tinge. As feeding develops, his poos will get firmer, darker in colour and more stinky.
However, if your baby seems to be having difficulty pooing and when he does his poos are very firm and solid, he may be constipated. Make sure he’s having lots of fluid – both milk and water and if the problem carries on, talk to your GP or health visitor.
9. Take photos!
Moving on to solid food is a momentous occasion in his development, so why not celebrate with a few snaps of him enjoying his very first tastes.
10. It may not work first time
If your baby just isn’t interested and spits out everything you’re trying to feed him and it all ends in tears, leave it for a couple of days. Don’t rush it if he isn’t ready – he will be in a few days. Give both of you a break for two days and then try again, but make sure you’re not too tense, as he’ll pick that up. Chat away to him (it may seem strange as he can’t talk back, but it will help to relax him) and try to make it fun – it soon will be!