The Right Time for Weaning
Shirley Yeung, HK BioTek Nutritionist
Weaning is a gradual process. It starts when one begins feeding the baby in other ways than breastfeeding or bottle-feeding. It ends when the child no longer breastfeeds or takes a bottle. It is an important step for a baby, but it sometimes stressful to both the parents and babies. Parents may feel confused finding the right time to start the weaning process. Understanding more about weaning could make things easier.
First, it is normal for babies to start weaning at different times. Every baby is unique and different. There are different approaches to weaning. Some parents would encourage babies to wean by a certain age. It was suggested that it would be fine to do so when babies reach four to six month of age, if parents are ready to experience this process with their babies. The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a new policy statement in 2005 that encourages breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months, and then gradually introducing solid foods while breastfeeding for at least six months more until the baby reaches age one. It takes time for babies to get familiar with the solid food so patience and encouragement from parents is important.
Secondly, babies would give you different signs showing they are ready to wean or not. For example, it would not be suitable to introduce solid food to babies until they can sit up and hold up their head. Also, when they put toys in their mouth more regularly or when they become more interested in solid foods, it is about time to start your experience with weaning baby to solids. What’s more, babies cannot chew solids until they have a few teeth. Thus, teething is another obvious sign showing your baby is ready to change the diet. When babies give you these signs, it’s about time for you to prepare the first solid food for your child.