What is weaning?
When your baby is around six months old they should be introduced to a varied diet of solid food alongside their usual breast milk or formula. Eventually over time your baby will be weaned off of their milk and onto solid foods.
What is baby-led weaning?
Baby-led weaning (BLW) is when you let your baby feed themselves their food right from the beginning of their weaning journey. Babies are not spoon fed smooth mash or purées (traditional weaning) and go straight on to eating the same foods as the rest of their family.
How to prepare for baby-led weaning?
Alot of people are worried about doing baby-led weaning (BLW) because of the risk of choking. Research has shown that there is no more risk of choking when doing BLW than there is with traditional weaning. Many local children’s centres hold weaning workshops and paediatric first aid courses. We also hold zoom choking courses with Mini First Aid. Keep an eye out on the ‘Online Courses’ section on our website for the next course. Attending these will help you be more relaxed when you do come to start weaning. The more relaxed you are the more relaxed your baby will be. It’s also important to know the difference between gagging and choking which is something we cover in detail on the course however we’ve also created a guide to help you spot the difference.
What do I need to buy?
There are loads of different products you can buy for your baby but only a few that are essential.
- A highchair (we love the Ikea Antilop highchair)
- Long sleeve bibs (we’d highly recommend the amazing Bibados)
- Plates with a good suction (we sell our own on our shop)
- Free flow cup
- Scrummy Tummies Weaning Diary
Visit our online store for a range of weaning products we highly recommend!
How do I know if my baby is ready to start weaning?
There are three clear signs, which, when they appear together from around six months of age, show that your baby is ready.
They will be able to:
- stay in a sitting position, holding their head steady
- coordinate their eyes, hands and mouth so they can look at their food, pick it up and put it in their mouth
- swallow food (rather than spit it back out)
The following behaviours can be mistaken for signs of being ready for solid foods:
- chewing fists
- wanting extra milk feeds
- waking up in the night (more than usual)
These are normal baby behaviours and not necessarily a sign of hunger or being ready to start weaning. Starting solid foods will not make them any more likely to sleep through the night.
If your baby was born prematurely, speak to your health visitor or GP for advice on when to start weaning.
Babies have a heightened gag reflex to help prevent them from choking.
Gagging is totally normal and expected when weaning but it is important to know the differences between gagging and choking.
Baby will open their mouth & thrust their tongue forward. Their face may appear bright red.
The baby will sputter and cough
Do not interfere with a gagging baby. Let them work it out. Interfering could lead to actual choking.
Baby will begin to turn blue.
Baby will be silent and unable to make a noise
Baby may begin vouching if it is a partial blockage
If your baby is silent and turning blue use first aid measured to dislodge the blockage.
What foods shall I give first?
It is a personal preference as to what foods you introduce your babies to first. Some like to offer single green vegetables such as steamed broccolli, peas and advocado. Others like to start with a meal option such as breakfast, offering foods such as weetabix, toast and porridge. We’ve created a helpful guide on different meal plans you could offer your baby to get you started through those first few weeks.
Can my baby have cows milk?
There is a misconception that your baby cannot have cows milk until they are a year old. This is incorrect. Babies can have cows milk from six months old but not as their main drink. They can have it on cereal and it can be used in your cooking but they should only be drinking breast milk or formula as their main drink until they are a year old. It’s advised that babies are given full fat cows milk as this contains the fat babies need to help grow healthy bones and teeth. You can still use breast milk or formula on cereal or in cooking if you’d prefer.
What foods can't my baby have?
Babies should not be given whole nuts due to being a choking hazard (nuts can be given but they need to be crushed or ground) or honey before the age of one, due to the risk of botulism.
Popcorn and boiled sweets should also be avoided due to being a choking hazard.
What about allergies?
It’s advised that potential allergen foods are given to babies in small doses and at least three days apart from each other. This is for you to be able to spot any allergic reaction and to then be able to identify what caused the reaction.
The top eight allergenic foods in babies are:
- Cows milk
- Eggs (eggs without a red lion stamp should not be eaten raw or lightly cooked)
- Foods that contain gluten, including wheat, barley and rye
- Nuts and peanuts (serve them crushed or ground or in nut butters)
- Seeds (serve them crushed or ground)
- Shellfish (don’t serve raw or lightly cooked)
If allergies run in the family speak to your health visitor or GP before offering potential allergen foods.
What about salt?
Babies only need a very small amount of salt in their diet and too much salt can affect their kidneys. As salt is added to a lot of the foods you buy, such as bread and baked beans it is easy to have too much.
The maximum recommended amount of salt for babies and toddlers is:
- up to 12 months – less than 1g of salt a day (less than 0.4g sodium)
- 1 to 3 years – 2g of salt a day (0.8g sodium)
To help you we have found a list of low salt alternatives of some of the everyday products you buy. Click below to check them out.