This month I am starting my second baby eating adventure, this time with baby George. So one of the things we are talking about in the mimi’s bowl kitchen are the key signs your baby is ready to start weaning. I get so many questions and messages about this and every baby really is so different.
Firstly, I am linking the latest NHS guidelines for you to read: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/solid-foods-weaning/#when-to-start-weaning-your-baby Secondly, this blog is written in conjunction with our partner paediatric dietician Bianca (see bio below). It has been great to get Bianca's professional view on this: I have asked her lots of questions too.
Signs your baby is ready
These are general guidelines, as every baby is so different, you may find your baby is exhibiting some and not all of these signs, so talk to your health care advisor and put in place a plan that works for you and your baby
Usually around 6 months (26 weeks) of age (as per DH advice), but babies are all so different. We would always recommend checking with your Health Care Provider, or health visitor, if you think your baby is ready for solids before 6 months
Baby can sit up without support and have a good steady head control
Is watching others eat with interest and mimicking eating
Is able to swallow food and has no medical complications
Wanting milk feeds sooner than in usual schedule and showing signs of additional appetite
Other signs of readiness include putting toys to their mouths
Having good hand to mouth coordination
Guidelines are 6 months?
I wanted to ask Bianca about this, as I started weaning with my daughter sooner, at the time she suffered from bad reflux. I visited my paediatrician and discussed this with him, he recommended we started sooner than the general guidelines as this would help ease her reflux. I wanted to share our story to highlight how different all babies are. Speak to your doctor and make sure you have the right plan and timeline in place for you and your baby.
It is best to stick to the current UK guidelines, but if you think your baby is ready for solids before 6 months check with your Health Care Provider, or health visitor, so that your baby can be assessed
Premature babies must be Individually assessed for their readiness
Weaning should not take place earlier than 17 weeks
Benefits of getting started?
I asked Bianca about the connection between weaning and sleep, a lot of parents ask me this. If your baby is weaning and fuller will your baby sleep better?
Sleep is regulated by hormones, but a baby waking up for multiple milk feeds, or having larger than usual milk feeds could be signs your baby is ready for solids (in conjunction with the above advice). All babies are different and as all parents know sleep can vary for a multitude of reasons. But, generally sleeping should be better when solids are introduced.
What to do if you have started too early? Signs you may have started too early?
Stop and go back to milk feeds
Restart when your baby is ready
It might also be that foods are offered when your baby was tired etc. It might be worth looking at the schedule / timings of when you were offering solids
No weaning before 17 weeks, but you don't wait to start weaning too late either
General advice for mums before they start weaning
It's going to be messy
Do what works for you and your baby
Do not stress about quantities In the beginning: it is about getting the hang of the new feeding method
It may take time, so persevere
Do not force your baby to eat, take their lead
This nutrition feature was written by parent Miriam Cooper, in conjunction with paediatric dietician Bianca Parau. Miriam is a mother of two, but is not medically trained and therefore has partnered with Bianca on this content. She speaks from her own experiences only.
Please always consult with your own Health Care Advisor on medical issues relating to your child.
As background, Bianca offers expert advice and nutritional guidance to children and their families. Her NHS clinical role at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital includes a specialist multidisciplinary feeding clinic, for children with eating problems, often resulting from a history of gastrointestinal problems and food allergy
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