Weaning is an important and exciting milestone in a young child's development, as they transition from infancy to toddlerhood. In this blog, we'll discuss some tips and strategies for successful weaning.
When should I start weaning?
Weaning is the process of transitioning a child from breastmilk or formula to solid foods. It typically starts around six months of age and can continue until the child is around 18 months old.
But how will you know if your child is ready?
Here are some of the signs to look out for:
- Sitting up unassisted: When your child can sit up unaided, it is a good sign that they may be ready for weaning. Sitting upright helps them to swallow food safely and reduces the risk of choking.
- Interest in food: If your child is showing an interest in the food you are eating, such as reaching for it or opening their mouth when offered food, it may be a sign that they are ready for weaning.
- Increased hunger: As your child grows, they will require more nutrients than what breastmilk or formula can provide. If your child seems hungry even after a feed, it may be a sign that they are ready to try solid foods.
- Ability to chew: When your child has developed the ability to chew and swallow food, it is an indication that they may be ready for weaning. Chewing is an important skill for consuming solid foods safely.
- Age: According to the World Health Organisation, weaning can start from six months of age. Waiting too long to start the weaning process may mean that your child is missing out on important nutrients, while starting too early may lead to digestive problems. The age of your child can also be a factor to consider when determining if they are ready for weaning.
Once ready to start weaning, here are some top tips:
- Start slowly: Introduce small amounts of solid foods gradually, starting with soft and pureed foods such as mashed vegetables or fruits.
- Be consistent: Stick to a regular feeding schedule and avoid skipping meals or snacks.
- Offer variety: Offer a variety of foods and textures to encourage the child to try new things.
- Be patient: It may take some time for the child to get used to solid foods, so be patient and don’t force them to eat.
- Follow the child’s lead: Let the child guide the pace of weaning, and don’t push them to eat more than they are comfortable with.
Support at nursery for the weaning process:
Supporting the weaning process at nursery is an essential part of our everyday care. The nursery team support the weaning process by creating a nurturing and safe environment for children to try new foods, textures, and flavours. Nursery staff also establish a regular feeding schedule and involve children in mealtime routines. Additionally, we make sure to provide parents with information about the weaning process and communicate any concerns or challenges that may arise. By working in partnership with families, our nursery teams can help support children’s healthy development and ensure a smooth transition to solid foods.
With patience, consistency, and a positive attitude, families can help their children successfully navigate weaning and their very first tastes, smells and textures of food. Remember to be patient and follow the child’s lead, and always offer praise and encouragement along the way.
Blog checked by: Kat Learner (Training & Professional Development Manager)