Home » The Experts Say » Baby-led weaning – The only sensible way to go

Baby-led weaning – The only sensible way to go

You must let Baby take the lead in when she is ready for solid foods – it is her tummy, after all, says Sister Lilian!

Introducing foods too early can put unnecessary strain on an infant’s immature digestive system. That’s why the World Health Organization, recognising that breast milk is the perfect first food for Baby, recommends only introducing solids after six months of age. What’s more, they strongly make the point, supported by the South African Department of Health, that all mothers (whether HIV positive or negative), should continue to breastfeed alongside complementary foods for as long as possible, preferably for two years or more. That’s because the nutritional and immune properties of breast milk are valuable until the very last drop ingested!

Cues that your baby is ready for solids
Remember, there’s no rush – your baby will start eating when she’s ready! Consider these signs before starting – some are cues, others may not be:
1.Baby suddenly demands more milk feeds
Baby might simply need more milk, so first try to increase the number or length of feeds for at least a week. If Baby still seems dissatisfied, it might be time to introduce solids, unless there is another explanation, like teething or stress in the family.
2.Everyone says baby is old enough
Most babies don’t need solids before six months, many even a few weeks later – milk is food, don’t forget, and your baby is innately intelligent about her needs.
3.Baby is teething
Teething often precedes interest in solid food – maybe because there is some connection?
4.Baby shows interest in your food
This will seldom happen before Baby is ready to eat, so it’s a good cue.

Your ‘how to’ guide
To support baby-led weaning, here are a few pointers that will offer the most individually-appropriate first food guide – because that’s what it’s all about; what works for one, doesn’t necessarily work best for another:
• Offer first foods between milk feeds, when baby is a little hungry but not ravenous and is in a good, inquisitive mood.
• Between 10h00 and 14h00 is the most optimal digestive time for first meals.
• Offer only 1–2 teaspoons or cubes at a time, and wait to see if, over the next day, there are any adverse reactions.
• Increase the amount slowly, maybe by one teaspoon or cube a day every 3–5 days, until Baby indicates that she’s had enough.
• Introduce new foods one at a time so you can readily identify problem foods.
• Add a second meal after about 4–6 weeks, and a third meal 6–8 weeks later.

Lastly, remember that starting to eat solids is not a sign of prowess; nor should it become a status symbol or a power play. There are quite simply too many eating disorders amongst children and

October 11, 2017

Wondering what to expect and when?

Many find it easy to work out how the weeks, months and trimesters relate to each other. Click a week, a month or trimester below to see what your little one will be doing in your 'bump' at that stage.

1st Trimester 2nd Trimester 3rd Trimester
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40
Month 1 Month 2 Month 3 Month 4 Month 5 Month 6 Month 7 Month 8 Month 9
 *This is just a guideline and the exact weekly breakdown may differ from source to source.