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Baby Weaning Guide
What is Weaning?
Weaning means introducing food other than milk into your baby's diet. It is a gradual process and involves slowly giving your baby solid foods. This is necessary because a baby eventually needs more than milk in his diet to continue to grow and develop. Moving on to solid food will not only provide your baby with more nutrients, but will also help develop the muscles necessary for chewing and eventually speech.
Throughout the leaflet we've often referred to your healthcare professional for further baby weaning advice. Although this is most likely to be your health visitor or GP, you can also talk to a midwife, maternity support worker, breastfeeding counsellor or a nursery nurse for advice about weaning. For ease, throughout this leaflet we have referred to baby as he – this applies to both boys and girls.
How do I know whether or not my baby is ready to be weaned?
Each baby is different, so what may be right for one baby won't necessarily suit another.
Signs that your baby is ready to start weaning include:
- He can hold his head up unsupported
- He can sit up when supported
- He shows an interest in what you're eating
- He starts waking up in the night for feeds when he wasn't previously
- He isn't satisfied by breast or bottle feeding
At what age should you wean your baby?
Current recommendations from health experts are to breast or bottle feed exclusively until your baby is six months old to ensure his digestive system is equipped to deal with solid food. Until then your baby gets all the nutrients he needs from milk. However, as he gets older milk alone cannot satisfy his nutritional needs. If you think your baby is ready to start weaning before 6 months, get the advice of your health visitor first.
Weaning is a gradual process
Go at your baby's own pace, as some take to it quicker than others. Breast or formula milk will still be the main part of your baby's diet, with a daily requirement of at least 5-6 breastfeeds or 500-600mls of formula. Where possible try to prepare your own weaning foods from fresh ingredients. It's easy and more nutritious. Visit our baby food recipes page for some fantastic ideas.
Just Add Water - A Parent's Guide to First Cups
Weaning is not just about your baby moving on to solid foods. It's about learning to drink from a cup too. The ideal time to start introducing a first cup is about 6 months.
Learning to drink from a cup is a gradual process and can be quite messy at times. Although it may be difficult and take some perseverance, you should aim to have your baby off the bottle by his first birthday. Using a cup is much better for his teeth.
When choosing a first cup, remember that:
- A cup with handles is easier for your baby to grasp
- A see-through cup will help you see if your baby is drinking well
- A hard spout is recommended because it doesn't encourage your baby to suck constantly
The free-flowing tommee tippee® First Cup, with its big handles, bright colours and smooth, rounded spout, is the ideal way to tempt your baby to make the transition from breast or bottle.
- A cup with a free-flowing hard spout and no valve. This free-flowing spout means that baby will not need to suck to get the drink, ensuring health development of his teeth and jaw
- Once baby is happy drinking independently try and move him on to drinking from an open top cup
- Using a sipper lid will encourage your baby to learn to drink from the rim of a cup
- Remove the sipper lid so that your baby can start to drink from an open cup
Young babies don't know the difference between sweetened and unsweetened drinks. Don't give your baby a 'sweet tooth' by offering sweetened versions. Water is the best drink you can give to your baby.
- If he is less than 6 months you should give cooled boiled water
- After 6 months he can have ordinary tap water
- Bottled water is best avoided as it tends to be high in mineral salts, although there are some that are suitable for infant feeding. Check the label.
If you must give your baby fruit juice, it is recommended that you do this at mealtimes only and especially not before bed time or during the night. Use real fruit juice and dilute 1 part juice, to 10 parts water. Our First Cup is marked with a juice line so you know how much juice and water to add.
All of these are different names for sugar which can decay your baby's teeth:
- Glucose syrup
- Concentrated fruit syrup
- Invert sugar
- Hydrolysed starch
Try not to worry about mess and spills. Water can be mopped up and it's rewarding when your child can eventually drink from a grown-up cup.
Healthy Oral Development
- Now your baby is weaning and has started to eat solid food, it's important to begin to establish a teeth cleaning regime
- Get your baby used to the dentist - if you're going, take him with you
- If your baby is taking a bottle, you should try and make sure he's given it up by the time he's a year old
- As your child learns to talk start to discourage use of his soother
Baby Weaning - Tools of the Trade
A spoon is a spoon, you might think. But when it comes to weaning your baby the right spoon is very important
- First it should be plastic, as metal retains heat and could burn your baby's sensitive mouth
- Second it should be very shallow to ensure the food goes into the baby and doesn't stay on the spoon
- And third, a long handle is very useful, as it will reach more easily into food jars and storage pots
tommee tippee® weaning spoons have all these things – and more. Only tommee tippee® brings you explora® Heat Sensing spoons which change colour from red to yellow to warn when food is too hot to give your baby. They are ideal when you're using a microwave to heat up food because they will tell you at a glance when it's safe to feed the baby – and when it's not.
To make the most of baby's mealtimes, as well as making mealtimes easier for you, we've developed a range of colourful, clever and practical products, designed to offer a complete solution to the chaos that can be weaning.
Our explora® Bowls come with our handy easy grip handles and come in three fantastic colours. The bowls have been designed with our spoons so the angle of the bowl is the same as the angle of the edge of the spoon.
Our Magic Mat is the perfect answer when it comes to preventing spills, as it holds our bowls and plates firmly in place, avoiding any little disasters that may occur.
All our products are made from hardwearing materials that can be put in the dishwasher, freezer or microwave. None of our products contain PVC and are all BPA free, so you can have complete confidence that your baby's wellbeing is looked after. For less stress and mess at mealtimes, the tommee tippee® tableware range has been created with both mum and baby in mind, and has those little extra touches that help make feeding an enjoyable experience.
* The Department of Health recommends that you wait until your baby is 6 months old before you start weaning. However, all babies are different, and some babies are ready to start before then. If your health visitor or GP advises it, you can start to introduce solids from 17 weeks.
How to start weaning your baby: take it step by step
Stage One - Getting started
- Aim to give solid food at just one meal to start with. Decide which daytime feed is most relaxed, for example at lunchtime when other siblings maybe at school
- Give your baby about half the normal amount of milk to quench his thirst and satisfy some of his hunger. Then offer a very small amount of pureed food, about a teaspoonful
- Use bland pureed foods, for example blended vegetables or some baby rice mixed with breast or formula milk. Remember not to add any seasoning
- You can make up a batch of puree and freeze in individual feed quantities. Ice cube trays or baby food pots are ideal for this
- Do not worry if your baby appears to spit the food straight out. This is a completely new experience for him. Just be patient and prepared for some mess - it will take some time for your baby to get used to this new and very different way of eating!
- After a few weeks of introducing solid foods, you can gradually increase the amount of solid food from one feed a day to two. The more solids you introduce, the less milk your baby will require. However, milk is a vital part of your baby's diet, and so you should continue giving him breast or formula milk until he is at least 12 months old
What if my baby shows no interest in solid food?
- If your baby just doesn't seem interested in the food, then just wait and try again another time. You don't want to force him into eating when he's not ready
- When feeding your baby, wait for him to open his mouth, rather than forcing the food in
- Let your baby touch the food in the dish or on the spoon. Allow him to play with the food and feed himself as soon as he does show interest
- Give your baby a whole range of foods and textures to taste. This will help prevent fussy eating when he is older
Foods to avoid
- Salt and spices
- Sugar and honey
- Bread, cereal and pasta
- Cows' milk
- Blue cheeses
- Spicy foods
- Sugary soft drinks
Some examples of first foods to feed your baby
- Pureed fruit or vegetables such as:
- Banana, pear or mango
- Potato, carrot, broccoli, cauliflower or swede
- Stewed fruit purees with baby rice
- Porridge made with baby rice and breast or formula milk
Stage Two - More new tastes and lumpy food Stage two
- Once your baby is happy taking solid food you can move on to the next stage, lumpier more textured food, and gradually increase the amount of solid food from one feed to two, and then three feeds per day.
- As he starts to move on to solid foods it is a good idea to start introducing a cup of water to accompany each meal. If your baby is under 6 months old you should give cooled boiled water. After 6 months old he can have ordinary tap water. Bottled water is best avoided as it tends to be high in mineral salts, although there are some that are suitable for infant feeding. Check the label.
- Remember that milk still plays an important part in your baby's diet and he should still be having at least 500mls of formula or 5-6 good breastfeeds a day.
- Try and include your baby when the rest of the family are eating, so that mealtimes become a social occasion
Some new foods to try at this stage are:
- Mashed up lean meat or poultry
- Mashed lentils or chick peas
- Full fat milk products, such as fromage frais, yoghurt or cheese sauce
- Mashed up white (e.g. cod) or oily (e.g. fresh salmon) fish
- Well-cooked egg
Stage Three - Independence
Between 9 and 12 months, your baby can start to eat the same food as the rest of the family, either mashed or sieved. Remember not to add any salt, sugar or honey. He will still need his milk (either breast milk or formula) - up to 600mls a day.
Your baby will be getting used to holding a spoon and learning to feed himself. He will also start to pick up pieces of food and put them in his mouth – it can be an exciting, and messy, time.
Once your baby has mastered the art of chewing food, you can start to introduce finger foods and encourage them to start feeding themselves. It can be a very messy stage but this is how babies learn. Aim to have three good healthy meals a day at this stage and remember that although your child is becoming more independent you should never leave him alone while he is eating.
- Wheat based foods eg bread, pasta and cereals
- Citrus fruits
- Eggs (ensure they are well cooked)
- Finger foods eg carrot sticks, peeled apple slices, breadsticks, fingers of buttered toast
Baby Weaning - Safety, Hygiene and Storing Food
- Always watch your baby while he is eating foods on which he could easily choke, for example raw carrot sticks, apple slices or grapes
- Make sure you peel the skins from foods such as sausages, and remove any bones from meat or fish
- If you have a history of eczema, asthma or hayfever in your family then it's particularly recommended to breastfeed for the first six months
- When weaning your baby, introduce foods that most commonly cause allergies (milk, eggs, wheat, nuts and fish) one by one so you can spot any reactions
- Always wash your hands before preparing your baby's food and check his hands are clean before eating!
- Clean surfaces and tableware before you use them. If you are preparing raw meat,keep a separate chopping board for this
- Remember you need to sterilise all your baby's feeding equipment, including spoons, bowls and cups, until he is a year old
- Don't re-use food that your baby has left at another meal. It may cause a tummy upset
- Always wash and peel fruit and vegetables
- Keep cooked and raw meats covered and away from each other and other foods in the fridge
- Cooked food should only be re-heated once, and then thrown away if not eaten
- Make sure food has cooled right down before putting it in the freezer, and make sure it's fully thawed when defrosting
- When re-heating food make sure it is piping hot all the way through (allow it to cool down before feeding it to your baby)
For further advice on weaning your baby, speak to your healthcare professional or any of the following associations:Food Standards Agency
Department of Health