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Getting ready for weaning? Here's everything you need to know to get started!

How to start weaning

When to start weaning, and getting ready.

What is weaning?

Weaning is the process of moving your little one on from a diet of just milk to solid food too. The first stage of weaning helps lay the foundations for healthy eating habits, and teaches your baby how to eat from a spoon, swallow and eventually chew.

As they grow, food will eventually provide all the nutrients your little one needs, but for now it’s just about getting them used to new tastes and textures.


Setting up healthy eating habits

Your baby will naturally be more receptive to sweet tastes at first, but we believe that starting with veggies will really benefit their health in the long run. In fact, research has shown that encouraging veg intake during weaning helps to shape your little one’s preferences – forming healthy habits for the future!

It’s important to introduce different single veggie flavours early in weaning, without making them sweeter by mixing with fruit. They might pull a face at first, but it’s well worth persevering! 


How long does weaning take?

On average it takes around a month to go through the 5 step weaning plan, but every baby is different – some get the hang of eating solids quickly, and others take a little more time to get used to new flavours and textures. They all get there in the end, so don’t rush – it’s fine to repeat steps until your baby is ready to move on. Take the time to enjoy it, and get ready for lots of mess and giggles!

fruit and fibre

Ready or not?

As a rough guide, little ones start weaning at around 6 months and the 5 steps in this plan typically take around a month to complete. When your little one is ready to start, they’ll find a way to let you know. Here’s what to look out for…

Does your little one...

  • ready to wean? ...sit up and hold their head steady?
  • ready to wean? ... seem interested in your food? Or take it from your plate?
  • ready to wean? ...pick things up to put in their mouth?
  • ready to wean? swallow some food when you offer it to them?

You rarely see these signs in combination until around 6 months. Simply waking up during the night and/or sucking their fists are not considered to be signs of being ready for weaning.

Weaning should not occur before 17 weeks. If you think your little one is ready before 6 months but is only showing one or two signs, speak to your health visitor or give our Careline team a call on 0800 977 4000.

Watch our weaning video

Our short video covers the basics of weaning, including when to start and what first foods to try, as well as tips on preparing and storing food.


Our short video covers the basics of weaning, including when to start and what first foods to try, as well as tips on preparing and storing food.

What is baby-led weaning?

Baby-led weaning means letting your baby feed themselves right from the very start of the weaning process.

This could be with soft finger foods to grab and learn how to eat, and by giving your baby a spoonful of mashed food to feed themselves.

  Hungry for more? Read our baby-led weaning article

Ways to wean

Purées? Finger foods? A bit of both? However you choose to wean, focus on building healthy habits and make it fun!

 

milk still matters

Milk still matters

When you start weaning, milk remains the main source of nutrition for your baby. If they’re between 6 and 12 months, stick to your pre-weaning routine, and your baby will drop a feed when they’re ready. As a general guide, bottlefed babies need around 500–600ml of milk a day. If you’re breastfeeding, feed on demand as well as offering food.

Unless they’re drinking over 500ml of formula milk a day, the Department of Health recommends giving little ones from 6 months to 5 years supplements containing vitamins A, C and D.

 

Essential weaning equipment

Here are a few essentials you’ll need to get our 5 step weaning plan up and running:

  • A few colourful baby feeding spoons and plastic bowls
  • Bibs and clean cloths
  • Saucepans and/or a steamer
  • A hand blender or food processor
  • Ice-cube trays or small containers
  • Free-flow beakers

Shopping & cooking in advance

Use the shopping lists in this 5 step weaning plan to buy everything you need for batch cooking, and then freeze small portions using ice-cube trays or small containers.

Your baby will only eat tiny amounts to start with. It means you’ll waste less food and preserve important nutrients too!

Weaning Safely

We recommend starting weaning with smooth textures, as they are easy for your baby to learn how to swallow. If you want to introduce soft finger foods, make sure your little one is at least 6 months.

If your baby can’t manage something, try not to worry too much, as their natural gag reflex will normally help them cough it up or spit it out. Never leave your baby alone when they are eating.

Allergies & special diets

If you think your baby has an allergy or would like them to follow a specific diet, please ask your GP or health visitor for advice.

More on weaning safely

Ready To Get Started?

Get stuck in right away with our 5 Step Weaning Plan online, or order a printed version.

ORDER YOUR FREE PLAN

5 STEP WEANING PLAN ON ITS WAY?

Get started before it arrives using our handy online version.

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