The weaning process – or the process whereby babies are introduced to food that isn’t breastmilk originating from the mother – is an incredibly important stage of your child’s life. Introducing your child to formula in a bottle or solid foods can both be considered weaning. Despite the fact that weaning is so important, many new parents have little to no idea where to begin this process, and reasonably fear that embarking upon it in an amateur fashion could endanger their child’s health and wellbeing.
Luckily, expert advice on weaning is plentiful and can help steer you through this process. Here’s what you need to know about weaning, when to start it, and how to go about it.
How old is your child?
Perhaps the most important question you can ask when trying to determine whether it’s time to start weaning your child is how old they are. The overwhelming majority of guidelines encourage parents to begin weaning their children at approximately six months of age, though specific advice may vary based on your individual circumstances. Never hesitate to ask a medical official for specific advice based on your situation. That being said, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Health Service of the UK agree that six months is a good guideline for most to stick to.
The CDC provides some helpful tips which can inform you on when your child may be ready to start weaning. According to the CDC, if your child can sit up by themselves with little or no support, has good control of their head and neck, and actively leans forward and opens their mouth when food is offered to them, they may be ready to start the weaning process and stop breastfeeding. You may want to invest in a Mimijumi bottle or similar product that can help deliver formula to your child if you’re nevertheless eager to keep them away from solid foods for a little while longer.
Know what mistakes to avoid
Many new parents fear about messing up the weaning process, so it can be helpful to review some common mistakes so that you know what to avoid before embarking upon this process. Ensuring that your baby is getting the protein and minerals they need may necessitate that you occasionally step away from just fruits and veggies, for instance. You should always consult a medical expert if you have any questions about your child’s specific dietary needs.
You should understand that the weaning process can be overdone, too. Don’t try to force your child to eat too much food if they’re not entirely ready. The early weaning process is to introduce them to the world of non-solid foods and formula, so a little bit at a time isn’t necessarily a bad sign.