When Can I Start Weaning My Baby? Everything You Should Know
Have you been asking yourself when can I start weaning my baby? Here’s everything you need to know.
As with many aspects of parenting, deciding if and when to wean your baby is a very personal decision. No parent should ever feel ashamed for choosing to stop nursing or bottle feeding their baby, assuming, of course, the child is at a safe age to do so. Also, no parent should ever feel ashamed for breast or bottle feeding for an extended period of time.
When can I start weaning my baby?
Newborns and babies up to about 6 months old should be fed purely breastmilk or formula, as their digestive systems have not quite matured enough to process food. Once your child reaches the 6-month mark, they are ready to begin experimenting! You can do so by feeding them purees, or by beginning ‘baby led weaning’, which simply means giving your child food for them to pick up and munch on themselves. Breast or bottle feeding should not slow down during this phase, as the amount of solid food the baby is actually consuming is not enough to replace a milk feeding.
As your child approaches the 1-year mark, and you start asking yourself when can I start weaning my baby there is a couple of factors to take into consideration. Their solid food consumption has probably slightly increased, and their milk feedings probably slightly decreased. However, breast milk or formula is still the primary source of calories and nutrition for children until they turn at least 1 year old. After your child has turned a year, it’s important to take their solid food consumption more seriously, increasing the amount of nutrient-dense food they are eating. There is a wonderful chart here on the general guidelines for balancing solid food and breast milk or formula.
READ MORE: TIPS & TRICKS FOR BABY LED WEANING
The World Health Organization recommends continuing to breast or bottle feed until your child is at least 2 years old, of course, this is at the discretion of the parents and many factors can come in to play. When it comes to breastfeeding, a mother’s supply might dry up before they reach the two-year mark, due to a number of reasons. It is also not uncommon for nursing mothers to simply feel ‘done’ with breastfeeding, or it is possible for their child to lose interest. There is toddler formula on the market, for those that formula feed and wish to continue to give their older child formula, on top of solid food.
If you do begin weaning your child, making sure that they are eating lots of healthy calories is extremely important, as this is now their only source of nutrients. The World Health Organization explains that the period where children stop drinking breast milk or formula and start to rely solely on solid food for nourishment is the phase when the most ‘malnourishment’ or ‘failure to thrive’ is diagnosed. So if you are removing breast milk or formula from their diet, it is critical to keep a close eye on their nutrition.
READ MORE: MANAGING THE PRESSURE TO WEAN YOUR BABY
When it comes to weaning, there is no ‘should’. Being told you ‘should’ continue breastfeeding when you just can’t anymore is extremely harmful mentally to the mother, and physically to the baby. The main priority is ensuring that the baby is fed, period. It is just as hurtful to a mother to tell her that she ‘shouldn’t’ still be breastfeeding, as there are many incredible benefits to extended breastfeeding and if both parties are happy… why not?!
As I mentioned above, whether your baby weans on their own or you wean them, it is a personal decision and not one that you should feel judged for. As long as you are supplying your child with breast milk or formula on demand until they are at a minimum age of 1 year old, then you are doing a wonderful job! After that, it’s entirely up to you.
Hopefully, this article has given you some answers to that burning question of when can I start weaning my baby. what did you find worked best for you?
Let us know in the comments section below!
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