First things first, ask yourself whether your baby is actually ready to wean. It’s easy to confuse the signs of weaning with other developmental milestones – for example, waking more often at night for milk could indicate a growth spurt – so if you’re weaning before six months and your baby is reluctant, it may be best to stop and wait until nearer the six-month mark.
If your baby is already six months old and is showing little interest in purees, don’t panic. Weaning is a gradual process, and he has enough nutrient stores in his body to tide him over while he gets used to solids. Don’t expect him to go straight from milk to eating three meals a day; early weaning is about getting him used to the taste and texture of food, rather than filling him up.
Your baby should be eating solids by nine to 12 months, so while it’s important to stay calm, do persevere with introducing food. Try lots of different flavours to see what appeals to him, and experiment with the consistency – some babies prefer a very runny puree, whereas others like something a little more substantial. Offer tiny amounts of food at a time, and make sure you’re not giving him a full milk feed just before his solids, as he’ll be too full to take them. You can also try mixing some baby rice or pureed fruit or vegetables with breastmilk or formula to make it taste more familiar.
Another option, if your baby is six months or older, is to try baby-led weaning, where you give your baby pieces of soft, fist-sized finger foods like avocado or cooked vegetables and skip the puree stage altogether. It doesn’t suit all babies, but for some, it can fire an interest in food, and they will feed themselves quite happily despite not wanting to take puree from a spoon.
Answered by: Catherine Jeans, clinical nutritional therapist, www.thefamilynutritionexpert.com