Weaning: when, how and with what to start

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Catherine Le Nevez
@catherinelenevez
Author and references

Contents

  • 1 Weaning: when to start 
  • 2 Early weaning at 4-5 months 
  • 3 Why start weaning 
  • 4 Practical tips for starting weaning 
  • 5 Weaning: how to get started
  • 6 Weaning: the importance of the high chair

Weaning is one of the fundamental stages in the life of our children, but it almost always comes with a little anxiety. How will my baby react to the novelty of food? Good question! Some immediately open their mouth which is a beauty. For others, however, it seems that instead of baby food and baby food we administer poison: sewn up mouths, unapproachable spoon and semolina squashed everywhere. That is why, in any case, there is one thing that mom needs to stock up on before starting: patience. A lot and a lot of patience.



Far be it from us to do "terrorism" on weaning! On the contrary, we want to try to understand when is the right time to start, how and with what to do it. In principle, it is a process that takes place within the first year of the baby's life. According to the classic scheme, the insertion of foods takes place gradually from about 6 to 12 months. However, there are different models, much more flexible than those in vogue until some time ago. Each pediatrician follows a different line and it is right to rely on him also for weaning, as well as for everything else. You will certainly find the differences between the more "old style" ones and the more modern ones, which could also offer self-weaning.

Weaning: when to start 

According to practically all the guidelines, up to 6 months the feeding of a newborn must be exclusively based on milk. Maternal or artificial makes no difference, but whether it is milk. For the same reason, neither water nor herbal teas of various types should be administered. In milk there is already everything a baby needs, including water.



In general, therefore, let's say that the right time to start weaning is 6 months. By this time the child should already be able to sit in the high chair without "collapsing" to the side. Also, by this age he should have lost the so-called extrusion reflex, according to which he tends to push anything that isn't liquid out of his mouth, including a spoon of course. In short, around 6 months a newborn seems more ready for weaning, even if it must be said that for some babies this is not the case at all and you have to wait.

Early weaning at 4-5 months 

We said that it is the pediatrician who starts weaning. He knows our children since birth, he knows what their weight has been over time, if there have been any particular health problems or with breastfeeding. In some cases, therefore, he may suggest early weaning, even at 4-5 months.

The reasons for this choice are variable. It is generally never advised if breastfeeding is progressing well and the baby is regularly growing in weight and length. If, on the other hand, you are taking formula milk or if breastfeeding is mixed (maternal and formula), the pediatrician may introduce fruit or a solid meal. Other reasons could include growth retardation or disorders such as gastroesophageal reflux.

But nutrition experts recommend that you be careful. Weaning too early could have repercussions on the health of babies, for example with the development of allergies. If you are interested in learning more, we talked about it HERE.

Why start weaning 

There are essentially 3 reasons:


  1. nutritional needs: milk by itself is no longer sufficient to satisfy all the nutritional needs of the baby, who is about to double his weight. The little one needs an increased caloric intake and foods rich, for example, in iron and proteins.
  2. more mature digestive system: around 6 months it is able to assimilate other foods besides milk.
  3. more advanced neuromuscular development: now the child is able to swallow more consistent foods, while up to 5-6 months he can only suck.

Practical advice for starting weaning 

Starting from the fundamental assumption that each child is unique and the reactions to the new food may be different, some general suggestions can be given.


  • Don't be in a hurry: at the beginning, the first meal is just a sequence of small tastings that are used to make him familiar with the novelty.
  • Offer one new food at a time: before introducing another, wait a couple of days. You will help your child to appreciate and taste the various flavors and you will see any reactions of intolerance.
  • Start with small doses: the stomach is still small. Gradually increase as the child shows interest in food.
  • Propose but do not impose: forcing to eat could have negative repercussions on the child's relationship with food, both now and when he is older.
  • Gradually vary the foods: this will educate him to various tastes and provide him with all the nutrients of the various foods.
  • Choose digestible foods and prepare them with maximum hygiene.
  • Check the temperature of the baby food: it must never be too hot.
  • Have him wear a large bib - it will certainly be useful. Also, take off that pretty silk blouse before you start - it's at a high risk of splashing!

Weaning: how to start

In this, the support of the pediatrician is essential. It will be he who will tell us which foods to introduce first, in which sequence to propose them, in what quantities. There are no rigid models for everyone, also because the nutritional needs of each child are different. However, some "rules" are adaptable to all situations.


Usually the fruit is introduced first, the simplest to administer both for texture and flavor. Then we move on to the first meals, which replace a feeding. It is usually midday. The others are gradually introduced: about a month after lunch, dinner is added (at 7-8 months), then a snack and, around 10-12 months, breakfast. The sequence, however, is not so "mandatory" and can be adapted to the needs of the mother and child.


Weaning: the importance of the high chair

If your baby is still struggling to sit well, it may be time to postpone the start of weaning. The choice of the high chair, however, must not be random, but made with criteria. First of all it must have a wide base, to prevent possible overturning. It must be equipped with safety straps and a band that separates the legs, so as to restrain the child without danger of sliding downwards.

Classic high chairs have a shelf in front. Be careful if you place the baby food on it: a handful can arrive without you noticing it and spread baby food in every corner of the kitchen. Other types instead (as if the evolutionary wooden chairs, which can be used from infants up to older) approach the kitchen table. When the children grow up they have their place next to you. It is important that everyone has a footrest to favor a correct position.

Warning: NEVER leave a child unattended in the high chair. As soon as he is able to stand up on his own he will try to look down and risk falling. So, mothers, always keep your eyes open.

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