The weaning process is essentially when you move your baby off breastmilk or formula and onto whole foods. These foods will be soft or liquified still, yes, but the transition can be jarring for babies, hence the need to wean them.
How Soon Do You Wean a Baby onto Food?
It is wise to wait until at least 6 months before you start weaning your baby onto food. When breastfeeding, this can help protect your baby from a variety of illnesses and boost their immune system. You will know your baby is ready when they can sit upright themselves, chew their fists, and generally want more milk to eat.
What are the Methods of Weaning?
There are three main methods of weaning:
The traditional method of weening has been used for generations. It involved feeding the baby with your finger or spoon. It’s a very simple method and works quite well. It is also less messy. The issue is that it does not put your baby’s needs first, so there could be issues of overeating in the future.
Baby Led Weaning
Baby led weaning is a relatively new method and was coined back in 2003 by Gill Rapley. It is a very relaxed and unstructured method compared to the traditional weaning method. Its premises is to allow your baby to feed him or herself, without any input from adults. You can put soft pieces of food in their hands, or on a plate or tray. The rest is up to your baby. The goal of this method is to help them learn how to feed and satiate themselves, instead of being regulated to strict feeding times. This process of baby led weaning can get very messy, however, so you will want to get yourself a weaning bib to make it easy to clean up afterwards. This bib can minimise mess on the other methods of weaning as well.
Of course, it is possible to adopt a mixture of both options. You can introduce new foods to your baby via the traditional method, and then let your baby eat on his or her own once they get used to the taste. This can help expand their repertoire of foods while also helping them learn how to satiate their hunger on their own. To make full use of this, however, it is vital that you don’t try to disguise the taste of food that they don’t like. Don’t mix sugary sauces like apples with broccoli. Your child might not like it the first few times, but you will thank yourself later when they eat their vegetables without complaint.
At the end of the day, it is up to what works with your child and how well each method works for you. Regardless of how you get your child to wean, it is paramount that you do get them to. It is also wise to get them used to a variety of foods when they are young so that they are less picky growing up.