When to wean your baby

when to wean

by motherandbaby |
Updated on

Getting started on your weaning journey is an amazing experience for babies. In those early months, when they first move onto solid foods, they’re starting on an incredible journey. They’re learning about everything that makes food delicious: texture, smell, consistency – and taste as well. But with so much conflicting advice online, when exactly is the time to start?

When should I wean my baby?

Current NHS advice says weaning should start around the age of six months, at which point your youngster won’t be able to get all the nutrients he needs from milk alone, whether you are exclusive breastfeeding or bottle-feeding infant formula.

Why should I not wean my baby before 4 months?

Some mums do wean earlier than six months, but it’s important to know that, until babies are 17 weeks old they should only have breast milk or formula as their digestive systems simply can’t cope with solid food.

If your baby was premature, this means 17 weeks from his due date, rather than his birth date. If you or your partner has a family history of allergies, or if you’re baby-led weaning, wait until your baby is six months old.

Six months is also long enough to give your baby enough time to develop, meaning they are fully ready for solid foods as they are better at moving food around their mouth as well as chewing and swallowing.

If you do think your baby is ready to wean earlier than six months, (and after all, all babies are different), it’s best to chat with your doctor or health visitor.

Is my baby ready for weaning?

According to the NHS, there are three clear signs that appear together which show that your baby is ready to start weaning. They will be able to:

  • Stay in a sitting position and hold their head steady.

  • Co-ordinate their eyes, hands and mouth so they are able to look at their food, pick up and put it in their mouth.

  • Swallow food (rather than spit it back out).

Just to make things more confusing, there are also behaviours that are often mistaken for being ready to start feeding your baby solid foods. These are:

  • Chewing their fists

  • Wanting extra milk feeds

  • Waking up more than usual in the night

These are considered normal baby behaviour and are not signs of it being time to wean your baby.

Most read

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us
How we write our articles and reviews
Mother & Baby is dedicated to ensuring our information is always valuable and trustworthy, which is why we only use reputable resources such as the NHS, reviewed medical papers, or the advice of a credible doctor, GP, midwife, psychotherapist, gynaecologist or other medical professionals. Where possible, our articles are medically reviewed or contain expert advice. Our writers are all kept up to date on the latest safety advice for all the products we recommend and follow strict reporting guidelines to ensure our content comes from credible sources. Remember to always consult a medical professional if you have any worries. Our articles are not intended to replace professional advice from your GP or midwife.