Babies are a complex bunch, and as a parent you are the one responsible for teaching your child everything until they can be independent on their own. You’re going to go through many adventures as a parent, from moving your baby from the crib to the cot to teaching them how to potty train. Before you buy the best musical potty that you can find from the baby store, you’ll encounter one of the messiest, frustrating and most fun adventures that you’ll remember for the rest of your life: weaning onto solid foods.
For the first six months of a baby’s life, they live on breastmilk or formula. Every nutrient and vitamin that they need comes from these sources, and both are food and something to drink, which means that they won’t need any solid food in their tummies until their digestive system matures properly: at 26 weeks old. The way that you choose to wean your baby is going to define whether they are healthy throughout childhood. It’s up to you to teach your child to use a spoon, swallow and chew and as they grow, they’ll get everything that they need from food as well as milk and water. While you won’t necessarily start out on sharing your plate of fresh cherrystone clams and greens, at six months old your baby can eat pretty much anything that you eat. Don’t panic if your child refuses the spoon or the food that you put in front of them, though. Food before one is just for fun and it’s all about touching, smelling and tasting the food. Don’t expect your baby to be throwing down three meals a day from day one of weaning.
So, how can you tell if your baby is ready to start solid food?
- He should be sitting up and holding his head steady
- He should be interested in the food you are eating (this can happen very early but remember about their delicate tummy! After all, if he reached for a steering wheel, it doesn’t make him ready to drive!)
- He should be able to reach forward and pick things up, putting them into his mouth
- He should swallow food when you do offer it, not thrust is back out with his tongue
These are the signs your baby is ready for something thicker than milk. Waking up in the night or sucking on fingers do not indicate a readiness to wean, so don’t be tempted to head for solids in the hope of a good night of sleep; it won’t work.
There are two main ways to wean: traditional weaning, which is purees and offering spoons of food, and baby led weaning, which is putting the food that you eat on their plate and allowing them to feed themselves. The latter is the easiest to start with at six months, as you can allow your baby to explore the food on offer and take their time. Don’t forget, their milk still matters and they shouldn’t be dropping milk feeds straight away.
CANDY TAI is a wife to David and mom of 5 with a degree in Communications. She's a native Texan (Hook 'Em Horns!) who's been making her home in the Kansas City metro area for nearly 15 years. She loves being able to shuffle her kids from their various sports activities, piano lessons, and school activities. She enjoys fashion, beauty, reality TV, and moviegoing.