Weaning is whenever a baby starts eating food other than breastmilk or formula. The WHO (World Health Organization) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of age and continued breastfeeding with complementary foods up to two years of age or more. The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) also recommends exclusively breastfeed for the first 6 months with babies beginning complementary foods and continuing to breastfeed for a year or more.
So what does this really tell us? It is best for babies to breastfeed. But we can’t breastfeed forever. It is best to wait until your baby is 6 months old before introducing any other foods. Your baby should be able to sit up on his/her own. Your baby must be able to move food from the front of the mouth to the back and have lost their tongue-thrust reflex. Lastly, your baby must be able to refuse food, normally by closing his mouth or turning his head away. If you wait until 6 months, it is most likely your baby will have reached these milestones (it is better to wait to start weaning if your baby is sick). This process of weaning is a slow process taking 6 months to 1 ½ years sometimes even longer. At this point your baby will stop nursing or you will have stopped giving formula.
I am about to start this journey. Timothy turns 6 months this Saturday and we are planning to give him avocados. I hope to slowly give him more food and reduce how much formula he gets so that we can get to the point where he is just nursed and some meals are solid foods.
The WHO and the AAP don’t say how to wean or when to stop breastfeeding. They don’t even recommend certain foods. There are a handful of foods that should be avoided before 1 year old and some foods you should wait to give until the child has more teeth for chewing.
Weaning can be a difficult time. Remember you are in control and you know what is best for your baby. Don’t let others push you into something that you or your child is not ready for, even if it is your well meaning mother or your highly educated doctor. No one knows your baby as well as you do.
What was the first food you fed your child?
Originally written in March of 2016