A guide to weaning baby onto solid food

Weaning is a gradual process of transitioning a child onto solid foods. The recommended age for weaning a baby is from six months. Baby will guide the way with cues to what is liked and disliked, as well as letting you know when hunger strikes. The first tastes of food are just getting baby used to the texture of food, and from this stage, the process of weaning begins.

Here is a guide on how to wean a baby onto solid food:

Signs baby is ready to wean

• Baby can sit unaided and hold their head up

• Shows a keen interest in food

• Copies chewing motion

• Fussy between feeds

• Wakes more for feeds

First taste of food

When baby is showing readiness, the weaning process can begin. It is best to choose a time when no other changes are being made. It is important that both parents and baby are in good health to start the weaning process. The first taste of foods will only be a very small amount to allow baby to become accustomed to the taste and texture. The amount of food is gradually increased according to baby’s appetite.

First foods

Preparing food for baby takes minimal effort and provides a healthy start for baby. Bland food that is easy to mash is the best food to start with. Baby’s usual milk can be added to the food to mash it to a smooth consistency, and to give a familiar flavor to the food. Over time, the food can be mashed less to add texture. Offer one food at a time with a three-day gap between trying a new food to be able to recognize if baby has allergies to certain foods.

Weaning foods

Baby rice is bland and offers a food that is easy for baby to swallow. Baby’s usual milk can be added to baby rice to give it familiarity. It can take time for baby to adjust to solids, and only a few spoonfuls may be consumed to begin with. The rice can be offered at feeding time alongside a milk feed. Once baby is accustomed to rice, vegetables can be introduced. Good first choices include sweet potato, broccoli, carrots or potato.

What to avoid

It is best for baby to consume fresh wholesome foods to allow for a healthy start. It is important to give baby the opportunity to become accustomed to savory foods first, without adding extra flavors. Salt, sugar and honey should not be included in a child’s diet before the age of 12 months. After this time, these should be limited, as they are not a necessary part of their diet.

Increasing solids

Baby cereal can be given for breakfast. Once savory foods are enjoyed, fruits can be offered. Hard fruits can be diced and boiled for about six to eight minutes until soft to be mashed, and to create a smoother consistency, use the pan water to mash the fruit. Soft fruits such as banana can be mashed down with baby’s usual milk or boiled water to create a smoother consistency. Once the amount of food increases, the milk feeds can be decreased and be replaced with water.

Weaning baby onto solids is a gradual process. The consistency and texture of foods can gradually be made lumpier to allow baby to learn to chew. Choking on foods is likely to happen at some point during this process. Ensure food is mashed enough, and chopped small enough to not be hazardous. Supervision is always required at mealtimes. Weaning is a messy time of exploration that should be enjoyed.