What are the 3 stages of weaning?

Answered by Tom Adger

Stage 1 – Introduction of solid foods – from around 6 months:

During the first stage of weaning, which typically starts around 6 months of age, babies are introduced to solid foods for the first time. This is an exciting and important milestone in their development as they transition from a diet solely based on breast milk or formula to a wider variety of foods.

At this stage, it is recommended to start with smooth and runny purees or mashed foods. This helps babies get used to the new textures and tastes of solid foods. Some examples of suitable foods for this stage include pureed fruits like apples or pears, mashed vegetables like carrots or sweet potatoes, and infant cereals mixed with breast milk or formula.

It’s important to introduce one new food at a time and wait a few days before introducing another to watch for any signs of allergies or intolerances. This allows parents to identify any potential food sensitivities and make adjustments to their baby’s diet if needed.

Stage 2 – More textures and tastes – from around 7 months:

As babies become more comfortable with eating solid foods, usually around 7 months of age, they can progress to the second stage of weaning. During this stage, the emphasis is on introducing a wider variety of textures and flavors to expand their palate and develop their chewing skills.

At this stage, you can start introducing slightly lumpier purees or mashed foods with more texture. It’s also a good time to introduce finger foods that are soft and easy to chew, such as small pieces of cooked vegetables, soft fruit slices, or well-cooked pasta. These foods help babies practice their motor skills and develop their ability to self-feed.

Additionally, introducing a wider range of flavors is important during this stage to expose babies to different tastes. You can incorporate herbs and spices into their meals, gradually increasing the variety of seasonings as they become more accustomed to different flavors.

Stage 3 – Wider variety and family food – from around 9-12 months:

The final stage of weaning, which typically occurs between 9 and 12 months, involves offering a wider variety of foods and gradually transitioning your baby to family meals. At this stage, babies should be able to handle a wider range of textures and can start eating more of the same foods as the rest of the family, with a few modifications.

You can start introducing mashed or chopped versions of the family meals, making sure they are soft and easy to chew. This allows babies to experience different textures and get used to the consistency of regular food. It’s important to ensure that the food is suitable for their age and doesn’t contain any added salt, sugar, or other harmful ingredients.

By this stage, babies may also be ready to try foods with more complex flavors and a wider variety of ingredients. It’s a good time to offer them a diverse range of fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy products if appropriate for their age and dietary needs.

As your baby progresses through the stages of weaning, it’s essential to be responsive to their cues and preferences. Every baby is different, and it’s important to respect their individual pace and readiness for different foods and textures. Remember to always consult with your healthcare provider for guidance and advice specific to your baby’s needs.