When you first start weaning your baby (read up on everything you need to know about weaning), whether they eat a lot of mashed carrot or gnawed avocado (or most of it ends up on the floor ? ) it’s important to keep their milk feeds up.
For the first year, when your baby’s going through the various weaning stages – from eating mashes and purees, to trying finger foods, and finally when they’re having proper meals – solids will not replace milk as a sole source of nutrition and both are needed.
But how much should they have? It’s a question lots of mums on our forum ask, take, for example, Lou12345 who says:
“Just wanted a bit of advice on milk intake, and how much my son should be having – he is 7 months and 19lbs in weight.”
Now, we should note here that the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that women breastfeed until their baby’s 2 years old if they can – and we’ve got more info on breastfeeding and weaning in this article.
But if you are bottle-feeding and so measuring your baby’s milk intake then read on.
How much milk should I give my baby if I start weaning at 6 months?
Every child is different, but as a rough guideline, Dr Philippa suggests giving your baby the following amount of milk for each age (with 6 to 7 months being the early stages of weaning, and approximately 1 year being when your child will be having proper meals).
It’s also worth remembering that, just like adults, sometimes babies are less hungry than at other times and might not want as much milk on occasion.
- From 6 months – 20oz (600ml)
- 7 months – 20oz (600ml)
- 8 months – 20oz (600ml)
- 9 months – 20oz (600ml)
- 10 months – 13-17oz (400-500ml)
- 11 months – 13-17oz (400-500ml)
- 12 months – 10-13oz (300-400ml)
She also tells us that, initially, weaning is about getting your baby used to different tastes and textures – and even just working out the different tongue and mouth movements required for eating, as opposed to sucking.
In other words, in the early stages of weaning, don’t worry if your baby doesn’t cut down on her milk at all – this bit is as much about experimenting and seeing what your baby likes as filling them up.
What kind of milk can I give my baby when weaning?
Breastmilk or formula are both options. As a drink, cow’s milk should be avoided until your baby is a year old (though you can use it in cooking or mixed with food from 6 months) and if you do eventually give it to them it should be full fat until they turn 2, after which semi- skimmed is fine.
In addition, goats and sheep milk aren’t suitable for under 1s, and soy-based formula shouldn’t be used unless advised by a doctor.
What if my baby wants less – or more – milk than is recommended?
It’s a good idea to give your baby a half feed of milk before you give them food. That’s because, says Dr Philippa, when you start weaning your baby, they are often so hungry that giving them some milk before trying food helps to calm them down and takes the edge off their hunger a bit so they can eat.
“If you find that your baby is drinking less milk as they head towards their first birthday, try to ensure that they are having some full fat dairy daily – like yoghurt,” Dr Philippa says.
One of the mums on our forum, Harjeet, does pretty much what Dr Philippa recommends, saying:
“My little one started dropping milk feeds just before 8 months. Once 3 meals a day had been established, with snacks during the day, he dropped his morning feed and his afternoon 3pm feed.
“I breastfeed, and at 8 months, he only has 2/3 feeds throughout the day. It doesn’t bother me as I know he eats cheese and yoghurt during the day.”
If your baby’s drinking more than the guidelines suggest, Dr Philippa says it’s sensible to try to decrease this to nearer 350mls so that they have an appetite for food.
More tips for getting your child to have more milk when weaning
How can I tell if my baby’s getting the right amount of milk when I’m breastfeeding?
If you breastfeed, it’s pretty hard to measure the milk your baby’s getting. But, says Dr Philippa, “for breastfed babies, it is fine to continue to feed on demand.
“Once your baby is established on 3 meals a day they should still be drinking at least 3 breastfeeds a day – generally breakfast, after the lunchtime nap, and before bed.”
More about the importance of milk in your baby’s diet
Milk isn’t just a way of helping your little one gain nutrients; it’s also important for keeping her hydrated, which helps to keep her healthy and energised.
Plus it’s a good source of comfort – many children enjoy a breastfeed or bottle of milk as part of a soothing bedtime routine, or if they’re feeling unwell.
If you’re using formula you might want to think about something like SMA® PRO Follow-on milk which has been specially designed to complement a weaning diet.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: The best way to feed a baby is to breastfeed, as breast milk provides the ideal balanced diet and protection against illness for your baby and also many non-nutritional benefits for both baby and mother.
We recommend that you speak to your healthcare professional when deciding on your choice of feeding your baby.
Professional guidance should also be sought on the preparation for and maintenance of breastfeeding.
If you do choose to breastfeed, it’s important to eat a healthy, balanced diet. Infant formula is intended to replace breast milk when mothers choose not to breastfeed or if for some reason they are unable to do so.
A decision not to breastfeed, or to introduce partial bottle-feeding, will reduce the supply of breast milk. If for any reason you choose not to breastfeed, do remember that such a decision can be difficult to reverse.
SMA® PRO Follow-on Milk is only suitable for babies over 6 months as part of a mixed diet. It should not be used as a substitute for breast milk during the first six months.
The decision to start weaning or to use this product before six months, should be made only on the advice of a doctor, midwife, health visitor, public health nurse, dietitian or pharmacist, based on baby’s individual needs.