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When Is the Right Time to Wean?

This is a question that most parents ask. It seems that baby grows up overnight. The time to wean is different for all children. Between you and your pediatrician, you can decide when baby is showing the signs that mean it’s time for something more.

Whether you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding, your child will need that milk as their main form of nourishment for the first year of their life. This is in addition to the solid foods that you will introduce when they are ready. Most babies don’t eat enough solid food at the outset to warrant stopping milk altogether.

There are a few signs to look out for that let you know your baby is getting close to eating something besides milk:

  • Reaching for your food
  • Making chewing motions with their mouth
  • They open wide when you put a spoon or a piece of food near their mouth
  • Baby can sit up and hold their head in place without rolling over
  • They are starting to grow teeth

That last one is a painful eye-opener for moms who are still breastfeeding. Ouch! You will more than likely notice the first four signs before you see any tooth buds.

Talk to your pediatrician. They will probably suggest that you wait until your child is at least six months of age before introducing foods, even if you notice any of these signs before then.

The first food to introduce is soft single grains. They are sold in the store in the form of flaky cereal that can be combined with milk to make a paste-like cereal the consistency of oatmeal.

If your child is on an eating schedule, try to offer them cereal before they are so hungry that they cry. This might be hard to do since he or she can’t talk. When your baby cries from hunger, they are more likely to get frustrated with trying to eat food from a spoon. Drinking a few ounces of milk may stave off the hunger enough to get them to try the spoon.   

Don’t be alarmed if you notice that they are pushing the spoon and the food out of their mouth with their tongue. This is a natural reflex that they learn from drinking the bottle or from the breast. It will take a little while for them to lower their tongue and chew the food with their gums.

Baby needs to be able to sit up so that they won’t choke. Having developed enough strength to hold their head up will allow for easier swallowing of food and their milk.

Are you ready for your baby to wean? They are probably ready too. Take it slow in the beginning and consult your doctor about proper times for and how to introduce new foods.