Signs your baby may be ready for weaning

At some point between 4 and 6 months, your baby will be developmentally ready to try solid food - but how can you tell? Look for these three telltale signs.

Is your baby ready for weaning?

It’s recommended, by the Department of Health, that you breastfeed your baby exclusively for the first six months of their life, after which you can start to wean them onto solids. However, all babies are different, and you might find that your baby is ready to accept solid foods a little sooner than this. Your health professional or midwife will able to advise you on this, if you think that’s the case.

Watch Helen's video below for advice on how to know when your baby is ready for weaning.

Not too early

Lots of babies go through a growth spurt at around 4 months old which can make them temporarily hungrier, but although your little one might seem ready, it’s not advised to start giving them solids before 17 weeks (4 months). Your baby’s digestive systems won’t have formed properly yet, so feeding them anything other than their milk before this time could be quite harmful.

Not too late

Even if your baby shows no signs of wanting to begin weaning, it is still best to make a start at 6 months since this is an important step in their development. Delaying weaning may also mean that your baby doesn't get enough of some important nutrients such as iron.

Some telltale signs to look for

Every baby is an individual, but there are three clear signs which, together, show your baby is ready for solid foods alongside breast milk or formula. It’s very rare for these signs to appear together before your baby is six months old.

  • They can stay in a sitting position and hold their head steady
  • They can co-ordinate their eyes, hands and mouth so that they can look at the food, pick it up and put it in their mouth, all by themselves
  • They can swallow food. Babies who are not ready will push their food back out with their tongue, so they get more round their face than they do in their mouths

Asking for advice

It's a good idea to have a chat with your health visitor for information and tips on weaning, especially if you’re feeling unsure when to start.