Weaning: Your questions answered
We've brought together some of the most common questions that parents ask, to give you some handy tips and products that might help answer them
Is my baby ready for weaning?
Current HSE guidelines recommend that you start weaning your baby at around six months; this is because babies' digestive systems are not developed enough to cope with solid food until around this time.
However, all babies are different so here are some signs that your little one is ready to start weaning:
Your baby should be able to sit unaided and hold their head steady
Can they look at food, pick it up and put it in their mouths all by themselves?
Babies not ready for weaning will push their food back out of their mouths
"If you think your baby might be ready for weaning before six months, or if you have any concerns, please speak with your public health nurse/doctor."
Vicky Pennington, Boots nutritionist
Why is weaning important?
At around six months old, your baby starts to need more than just milk to satisfy their growing appetite, so this is the time to begin weaning. The first stage of weaning lays the foundations for happy, healthy eating habits and teaches your baby how to eat from a spoon, swallow and eventually chew.
How long does weaning take?
Don't worry about what other people are doing; all babies are different so it's important to let your little one set the pace.
Our top tips
Our number one tip is not to feel disheartened when food goes flying and certain things are refused. Weaning takes time, after all, there's a whole host of delicious foods for your little one to explore.
Here are a few more tips to help you on your journey:
- Start with small spoonfuls and work your way up
- Expect and plan for mess (especially as they start to explore the food in their bowl)
- Try to offer variety - even if they refuse a new food the first time. It can take a number of tries before they get used to a new taste and texture
- Don't panic if they don't eat much to start with, they'll still be getting most of their nutrients from their milk feeds
- Never leave your baby unattended when feeding because of the risk of choking