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How do I know when to start weaning?

Weaning is a process of gradually introducing solid food to your baby to fulfil their growing nutritional needs and usually starts when the baby is around 6 months old. Several signs can be identified as the time to start weaning. Around 6 months breast milk or infant formula no longer provides sufficient nutrients and energy for growth and development.

Signs or readiness can include:

  1. Your baby ‘s appetite is unsatisfied after a full milk feed alone.
  2. Your baby demands more frequent milk feeds.
  3. Your baby shows interest in food, opening mouth when food is offered.
  4. Your baby starts putting their fingers into their mouth.
  5. Your baby has good head and neck control and ability to sit upright when supported.

How do I feed the baby?

When weaning, introduce the food to your baby gradually as below:

  1. Introduce food in small portions (1-2 spoons after each breast / bottle feed).
  2. Increase food in frequency (when your baby’s demand for milk decreases, increase the food intake).
  3. Gradual introduction from liquid food to semi-solid food to solid food (enabling baby’s digestive system to adapt).
  4. Make sure you feed your baby with easy-to-swallow and digestible food that provides your baby with sufficient nutrients.

What do I feed the baby?

Allow your baby’s chewing capability and reactions to food to be the ultimate guide, do not force feed them. Use the guide below on how to introduce new food according to your baby’s digestive capability.

Baby’s type of bottles and teats will depend on baby’s feeding requirement:

When What
Around 6 months
  • Iron-enriched infant cereal mixed with water, Breast milk or infant formula.
  • Pureed vegetables and fruits.
  • Pureed meats.
  • Poultry and fish.
7 – 9 months
  • Ground up meat, fish & poultry.
  • Yogurt, cottage cheese, custard and egg.
  • A small amount of cow’s milk on cereal.
  • Pureed legumes (beans, peas & lentils).
  • Whole rice, couscous, pasta.
  • Dried bread products such as toast fingers and sugarless rusks.
9 – 12 months
  • Mashed “family food”.
  • Finger food such as peeled fruit pieces or vegetables.
Prior to 12 months
  • Introduce a wide variety of foods, including whole egg, nut pastes, breads, cereals, pasta, dairy foods, and cooked/raw vegetables.
  • In the first 12months avoid: Honey, teas, sugar-sweetened drinks, fruit juices.
  • Under 12months of age: cow’s milk as a main drink is not recommended.


What texture should the food be?

Food offered should be an appropriate texture and consistency for the child’s developmental age.

To reduce feeding difficulties, offer lumpy foods between 6-9 months. This is an important window of opportunity.

6 months:
Offered purees then mashed foods, progressing to minced and chopped foods.

8 months:
Ready for coarsely mashed/minced foods. Most can manage finger foods.

12 months:
Eat when rest of the family eats, consuming a wide variety of foods.

Note:
Recommendations are in accordance with the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Infant feeding guidelines (February 2013)

  • Other than recommending using iron-enriched foods first, there is no order in which foods should be introduced. Foods should be given at a rate that suits the infant.
  • Fruit juice is not recommended for infants under 12 months of age. Sweetened drinks are associated with dental problems. Avoid adding sugar, salt, refined flours, processed food, food with additives, preservatives, colours, hydrogenated fats and concentrated fruit juices (low nutrients).

Practise safe feeding with these tips:

  1. Always supervise babies & toddlers whilst eating.
  2. Ensure that they are sitting upright.
  3. Use appropriate feeding tools.
  4. Make sure that the food is not too hot or cold.
  5. Do not feed cereal in baby’s bottle to avoid choking.
  6. Stop feeding when baby is no longer interested.
  7. Avoid food that can cause choking hazards such as hard pieces of food. Example: celery sticks, chunks of apple, nuts, carrots, grapes  or tough food. Until age 3 years, avoid hard foods.
  8. Avoid food that breaks into big pieces in baby’s mouth such as crackers and biscuits.
  9. Serve baby from a clean bowl to avoid contaminating the food container / jar. Attention to hygiene is very important.
  10. Use caution when heating baby’s food in a microwave. Test the temperature and heat foods that are only meant for microwave cooking.
  11. Meals are to be enjoyed. As parents model for your child enjoyment of nutritious dietary practices. Try and sit together as a family whilst eating.
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