Introducing Solids (Weaning)
It is often at around 3-4 months old that friends and family start asking you when you are going to try your baby on solids. Advice has changed a lot over the years and experts now say that babies only need breast or formula milk on demand until they are six months old.
This gives babies time to develop so they can eat solids safely in an upright position. It also reduces the risk of conditions like eczema, asthma and food intolerances.
At around this time your baby will begin to show interest when you are eating. They may also seem to want more milk or wake more often. These are very normal stages and do not mean that your baby needs solids.
Signs Your 6 Baby is Ready For Weaning
All babies are different and some will not be quite ready for solids even at six months. To safely start eating food your baby needs to be able to do all of these three things;
If you are not sure if your baby is ready, or if your baby was born prematurely, ask your health visitor or GP for advice on when to start introducing solid foods.
There are some big advantages to waiting until your baby is six months old;
You may be wondering when your baby will get teeth, or how you will be able to comfort your baby if teething makes them unhappy. First teeth usually appear at around six months but teething might begin sooner.
Caring for your own teeth will set a good example for your child as they grow. Now is a good time to register your baby with your NHS Dentist.
You will have really noticed the changes in what your baby can do. Their personality will be really shining through. This is a very special time.
These new skills mean they can begin to watch and then reach up towards things dangled above them.
Their smiles will be coming easily now and they will love smiling and cooing at themselves in a mirror.
All of these skills mean your baby is learning to communicate, problem solve, be sociable and enjoy physical activity. The time you spend playing and talking to them help these skills develop more.
Ways To Play
Babies are born ready to learn. Play is a fun way to help your baby develop. You are their ‘first teacher’ and their favourite playmate. By picking up your baby when they cry, singing or playing peekaboo over and over again, you are building your baby's brain.
Small children learn best from everyday experiences with you. Talking to them about the things they show an interest in, helping them explore the things around them will help their development.
You don’t need expensive toys or equipment – having you with them is the most important thing. You could try;
Praise your baby for trying and share their pride when they manage something new.
It is recommended breastfed babies from birth up to one year of age also be given a supplement of 8.5 to 10 micrograms vitamin D per day.
Babies who are formula fed do not require vitamin D if they are having 500ml or more per day of infant formula. This is because infant formula already has added vitamin D.
As the protection your baby got from you in the womb is now decreasing, it is important your baby gets their immunisations on time. In the first year there are 3 lots of two vaccinations; these are done when your baby is around 8, 12 and 16 weeks old.
Your GP should contact you about these. If you have not heard from them, you should contact them to arrange it. If you have any worries you can discuss these with your health visitor or practice nurse.
If you're planning on going abroad discuss this with your GP practice. You may be able to get vaccinations earlier if you are visiting a high-risk country.
At around 4 months of age your baby may start moving and rolling. This puts them at higher risk from accidents. Babies can roll very fast and for quite a long way once they get the hang of it. Babies need a close eye kept on them to keep them safe.
You can reduce the risk of accidents if you;
It's a good time to plan ahead as your baby will get more and more mobile. Have a crawl around your house and see what might be risky for your little one. Remember you will soon need stair gates and cupboard locks for when your baby gets more mobile.
Safe sleeping advice is still very important, to reduce the risks of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Your baby should still be sharing a room with you and be put to sleep on their back. If your baby can roll you should still put them down to sleep on their back. If they roll in their sleep then try not to worry they are mobile enough to change their position.
You may have noticed that your baby is awake for longer periods now and their sleep pattern might have changed.
At 3 months old your baby will need around 4-5 hours of sleep in the daytime, as well as about 10-11 hours at night. This sleep happens in smaller sessions. They are still very likely to wake in the night. All babies develop a sleep pattern in their own time and it is still early days. By the time children are a year old, they may be more able to sleep through the night.
One of the things that can help your baby learn to settle at night is to begin a bedtime routine. Have the same things happen at the same time – like a bath, pyjamas and then feed. Keep lighting low and your voice quiet when you put them to bed. It is great if they can get in the habit of being put in their cot drowsy but not asleep – this helps them learn to drift back to sleep again when they wake in the night.
You can always contact us by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays. Our clinical team will be able to answer any questions or worries you may have.
If you are 11-19 you can text Chathealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of the Healthy Child Programme team.
You can speak to other Norfolk parents and carers by clicking our online community forum below.