Advice on weaning your baby
The weaning experience
It is now recommended that you wait until your baby is six months of age before starting to wean and introduce any solid food into their diet. Our baby seemed to be needing something extra from the age of about 18 weeks. (17 weeks is the minimum recommended age to introduce any solids)
Weaning at Six Months
It was a difficult decision to make, as all literature and also the health care visitor have to now say that you should wait until the baby is six months old before weaning. Our baby started waking more often in the night, and also went from having breast milk every four hours back to every two hours through the day. We decided this was a clear sign that our baby needed to have something extra in her diet. Still the health visitor recommended giving the baby formula milk on top of her breast milk and holding her out until six months!
We have always breast fed our baby, and decided that a more natural approach to solving her hunger was to start giving her a little solid food. The decision to start weaning was the best that we made! Within a week she was a lot more settled and happier than she’d ever been. It also seemed like a natural progression too, from breast milk to food – the idea of introducing formula just to satisfy some medical opinion seemed wrong.
Useful weaning food
To start with we gave our baby a little baby rice mixed with breast milk. She only had a couple of spoonfuls to start with, but soon decided she liked it and wanted more! It was hard to know how much to give her in the beginning. Were we giving her too much, or not enough? But we soon decided that she would tell us when she was full or if she was still hungry, and sure enough she did. When she is full, she just closes her mouth and turns her head, showing no interest whatsoever, and when she is still hungry she is like a sparrow in the nest with her mouth opened wide and wanting more!
Her weaning started with just a small meal at lunchtime. We continued this for about three weeks before introducing a second meal, which was breakfast. Within two weeks of introducing breakfast she went on to also having dinner. So by the age of six months she was having three meals a day. She is now nearly seven months old and also has a pudding after her meal! She seemed to grow stronger and more alert in leaps and bounds too, learning new skills and laughing at everything.
Weaning with Vegetables
We started her on vegetables very early on in her weaning. Mixing them with baby rice to start with and then introducing them on their own. Butternut squash, sweet potato, carrot, parsnip, apples, pears and bananas were her first favourites. Every couple of days we would introduce something new. Roasted red peppers soon became a real favourite! We would only introduce new foods to her at lunchtime in case it didn’t agree, that way we wouldn’t be kept awake all night with a belly ache. After about six weeks we decided to have each vegetable served individually on her plate instead of mixed together, so that she could experience the different flavours on their own, and also mixed in a variety of combinations.
Other weaning foods
From the age of six months we started giving her bread, dairy, meat and eggs. So far our daughter loves just about everything we have introduced to her. She chews on a crust with vegemite, or bread sticks, and loves pureed pasta dishes and a beef and orange casserole that we tried. She is a little unsure of fish, and has only started eating mashed potato with cheese sauce on top!
Breast Feeding whilst weaning
We obviously kept up with the breast-feeding whilst introducing the solids to our baby. She has basically decided herself when she needs breast milk through the day. She soon dropped her lunchtime milk feed, but has only recently dropped her mid morning and afternoon milk feed at seven months old. It is recommended that babies should at this age still be having at least 500mls of breast or formula milk along with their solid food. Because we are breast feeding, it has been a concern as to how much milk she is taking, but because she is still having a good milk feed first thing in the morning, last thing at night and also still through the night, we figure she is still getting enough. We worked out that when expressing, we get approx 100mls from each breast, so based on this she is still getting at least 600mls approx a day.
Useful weaning equipment
The only equipment that we purchased for weaning was a hand held blender. We have managed to get by without a mouli, although it would have come in handy when trying to get the stringy fibres from spinach etc. We steamed all of our own vegetables, pureed them and then froze them in ice cube trays. The cubes could then be easily emptied into plastic bags and kept for up to eight weeks if they lasted that long! We have only recently bought some of the canned baby custards to add a little variety into our baby’s pudding selection!
From the beginning we offered cooled, boiled water from a training cup for our baby to drink with her meals. At first she didn’t really drink much, but she now really enjoys water, and on occasions diluted juice.
Weaning and constipation
We did notice when we first introduced solids our baby became quite constipated. We panicked at first thinking “oh no we’ve introduced her to solids too early!”, but the health visitor pointed out that this happens to all babies when they are first introduced to solids, and not to worry.
A couple of things that seemed to help with the constipation were spinach, and stewed prunes mixed with dried apricots and an apple and pureed. We also added a little brown sugar to her water, which seemed to interest her more, as the more water they can drink the better it is for their digestive system. She didn’t need sugar in her water for long.
The baby weaning experienceWe are happy with the progress of weaning our baby, and are glad we introduced the solids to her when we did, as she clearly needed it. So far she has enjoyed almost all of the foods that we have introduced to her, and the ones she hasn’t we have tried her on again a few weeks later. She has had excellent weight gain and seems to be progressing in leaps and bounds (almost literally!)
Due to the number of comments on this page/topic we have moved further discussion to the forum.
"6oz!! My kids were taking at least 10oz bottles and still waking before we even thought about moving onto solids. Even then I used to do a 'slightly' thicker mix before bed. Yes, we did it at about 4-5 months, but they were guzzlers and big.
The guidelines are there for a reason. Young babies do wake in the night and I really wouldn't assume that because 6oz isn't enough to move onto solid foods."
"I am so pleased I found your article. My daughter is 17 weeks old today and weighs 16lbs so is a large baby. She started waking during the night again and finishing a 6oz bottle so I have started her on solids. pureed sweet potato today (she had baby rice for a few days before this). Waking has stopped in the night but she is a bit constipated so was pleased to read this is normal when starting to wean. She still has 6 bottles a day but they are only approx 5oz each (she doesn't seem to be able to take any more in one go). I feel much happier about my decision now."
"Sorry to hear zc doesn't agree but as with everything in this world, 'professional' opinions seem to change like the wind. My mother is a health worker and has been working with babies for over 30 years. She has always encouraged me to go with my own parenting instincts. I was weaned at 4 months and I have no health issues or allergies whatsoever. I too weaned my baby at 5 months and she couldn't have been happier and she continues to eat all her food with delight. I never could have breast fed alone until 6 months - she was just too hungry. Overall I think we mothers who trust their own instincts rather than every new report published find they have happy, healthy well-balanced little individuals. "
"brilliant-youve put my fears to rest about starting too early-i have a big baby & she would hve eaten at 12 weeks,but i held off until 16 weeks& she loves apple & pear baby rice, i cant wait to try her with fruit & veg"
"I am glad to hear you went with your own instincts. I think it is worth remembering that the World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding as long as possible because in developing countries it is sterile whereas the water often isn't. Besides just because a babies iron store will take them through to 6 months doesn't mean a baby shouldn't be given solids sooner, as my Health Visitor said "when weaning the earliest foods aren't necessarily about nutrition"."
"Its good to read that you went with what you felt was right. Parents know what is right for their child, because they spend most their time with them, you know what that little person needs. I am in a very similar situation, but my health visotors is very helpful and encouraged me to begin solids before 6 months. Every child is different and don't always follow what the literature states. I am breastfeeding my little girl and she more then doubled her birth weight by 10 weeks old, she's got a good appetite. Good luck to all those who are weaning their little people "
"The 6 month guidelines are there for a reason. You didn't want to give formula to satisfy 'some medical opinion' but you were happy to give solids too early and potentially damage your baby's gut."
"so good to read your account of weaning. it has just confirmed that we are on the right track and my instincts are to be trusted"
"i read your advice on baby weaning and it has helped me make my decion.My daughter is 17wks old and i explained to my health visitor that she was ready to be weaned,as when she has a bottle she cries for more. i also explained that when she was having her bottle she would be sick. The information i got was dreadful, she advised me to give my daughter a 9oz bottle of milk rather then a 7oz. Im glad ive read your article it has helped me make my decion."
"I found this info really usful. Only yesterday i started my baby on baby rice and she is only 15weeks but i knew she needed something else she took to it like a duck to water and reading this artical has given me more confidence to continue what i am doing thank you for sharing this "
"very useful and straight to the point my questions have all been answered thank you "
"Thank you for your sharing...just what I needed for reassurance with my seven-month old. Still breastfeeding at night and weekends. "
"Thanks for your story really useful! Especially as the health visitors as soo unhelpful! My 5 month old baby has been really moany and seems unsatisfied after a feed so think I'll see if weaning helps."
"Your story is so similar to mine it is spooky! My 7 month old was also never going to make it to 6 months and I didn't want him to have formula either - the more natural thing seemed for him to have food! So I also just got on with weaning him, just like you and he loved it! He is also now on 3 meals a day including puddings and still has 4 big breast feeds a day as well. I am hoping that he will soon drop a feed but he has never taken a bottle and is only just getting to grips with a cup/trainer cup. Anyway, glad to hear about someone doing the same. Good Luck!"
"This is how we did it as well and we have a very happy baby girl."
"Fabulous read - just what I needed."