When to start weaning your baby

The NHS advises you should start weaning your baby around 6 months old. The operative word in that sentence being ‘around’.

Some babies may want food at 4 months, some may not be interested until 6.5 months. Take the NHS advice onboard but, be guided by your baby.

Spotting the signs that your baby is ready for weaning

If you are deciding whether or not to start weaning your baby, look out for some or all of these signs:

  • Starts following the food on your fork
  • Makes chewing motions or sucks their lips in and out
  • Cries for milk before their next feed is due
  • Waking up in the night for milk after previously sleeping through
  • Still hungry after a bottle of milk
  • Sitting up and holding their head straight
  • Trying to grab food from you

Why does the NHS advise weaning from 6 months?

From birth up until the age of six months, babies get all of the nutrition they need from milk – breast and formula. Once they hit the six month mark, they need more iron so solid food should be introduced.

There is also a link between early weaning and obesity in later life. Finally, their tongue and jaw need to be developed enough to move food around their mouths and start practicing chewing.

Test – is your baby ready for weaning?

To test if your baby is ready to be weaned, place a small amount of pureed food on your finger such as banana or poached pear. Offer the food to your baby – if they push it back out with their tongue, they are not ready. This is called ‘tongue-thrust reflex’ and means they do not know how to swallow.

If they swallow it and have the signs listed above, it looks like your baby is ready for weaning.

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