Simple Weaning Journey Markers

If you’re about to embark on starting solids with your baby, here are a few simple  journey markers or milestones for you.

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The journey from milk to solid foods has many exciting milestones that pave the way to independence. While embarking on weaning can feel daunting, this guide breaks down key markers to help you thoughtfully nurture your baby’s early food relationship.

From gearing up for the journey ahead to celebrating the first bite, establishing routines, advancing self-feeding, and joining family meals, we cover essential need-to-knows. With the right support, you’ll empower your baby to gain confidence on the often messy but always exciting road to becoming a competent eater!

 

Marker of Readiness: Gearing Up for Weaning

Before starting solids, create a safe, clean feeding environment. Clear sharp hazards, secure loose items, and prep some washable bibs for the exciting journey ahead. Do some research on the best high chair set-up for you and your family, and get this in place for mealtimes to come.

Once your baby can sit upright unsupported and watch your food with curiosity, it’s time to start thinking about offering them safe purees to explore new textures. This is also the time you can start introducing baby utensils to let your little one explore independently from the get-go. These early experiences alongside milk build confidence to try those first real bites of solid foods soon.

 

Marker of First Tastes: Introducing Solids

Wait for signs of readiness at around 6 months - then begin solids gently. Look for these key signs:

  •  Good head and neck control

Once your baby can hold their head steady and upright without support, this indicates that your baby has developed the necessary neck and back muscles needed for swallowing.

  • Sits upright with minimal support

Your baby can sit in a high chair or feeding seat without slumping over, showing they have the core muscle strength and stability that is important for feeding.

  •  Reaches for food and brings it to their mouth

You may notice your baby watching you eat with interest and reaching for food, indicating hand-eye coordination is improving which is an important skill for independent eating.

  •  Shows desire for food and opens mouth when food offered

Your baby may seem eager to participate in mealtimes and open their mouth when you offer them food on a spoon.

  •  Can swallow food rather than pushing it back out

Your baby's tongue can mash and move semi-solid food around their mouth, showing you that they have the skills to try safe eating.

 

For a more baby-led experience, offer soft finger foods they can feed themselves. Or take the route of starting with thin, smooth single-ingredient purees like sweet potato, banana or mild vegetables.

  • Introduce one new flavor every 3-4 days, watching for reactions before combinations.
  • Start with just a small amount. Funny faces are normal - it's all new!
  • Remember: milk or formula remains the primary nutrition for under 1 year as you slowly reduce bottles.

 As interest grows, gradually shift textures from smooth to mashed to diced pieces. Or for baby-led weaning, offer a progression of suitably prepared finger food pieces of varying shapes and textures. This sets the stage for encouraging self-feeding later on.

 

Marker of Routine Building: Establishing Mealtimes

Around 6-8 months, create a consistent schedule with properly portioned solid feeds. This plants the seeds for healthy habits long-term! 

Having a predictable mealtime routine:

  • Ensures adequate nutrition rather than endless snacking
  • Allows proper digestion between feeds
  • Pairs solids with open cup sips of water
  • Gradually reduces milk feeds as solid intake increases

Babies and young toddlers thrive on predictability and patterns. Setting regular structured mealtimes now makes it more likely your child will intuitively adopt balanced eating habits as they grow bigger and more independent. Of course, there’s always room for flexibility, but our top tip is to keep things as routine as possible!

 

Marker of Independence: Self-Feeding

Typically, around 8 months, as your baby's hand and finger control improve, you can start to introduce baby-led exploration of softened finger food pieces to enable independent eating with control. Keep in mind that each little one progresses differently, and there's no need to worry if your baby's timeline varies.

  • Offer pieces of soft fruits/veggies, toast soldiers, strips of cheese etc. Textures and shapes babies can grasp are key.
  • Offer ergonomic utensils to encourage familiarity with the idea of using utensils to bring food to mouth independently.
  • Pay attention to their hunger/fullness signals without pressure. Trust your baby to decide on amounts.
  • New food rejections are normal – keep calmly reoffering another day. Tastes change rapidly at this age.

Mastering self-feeding supports intuitive eating and builds motor skills for utensil use and shared family meals ahead. But go at your baby's unique pace - there is no one "right" way to wean!

 

Marker of Family Bonding: Joining Mealtimes

Between 12-24 months, guiding your toddler to share family meals is a special milestone.

  • Cut up bite-sized pieces so they can safely self-feed alongside you using toddler utensils and children's plates.
  • Boost acceptance of new foods through positive sibling/adult modelling.

Blending their preferences with the family's balanced diet leads to adventurous, less picky eating long-term. More importantly, it transforms meals into a social time of togetherness!

 

Embrace the weaning journey 

Use our weaning journey markers to guide your little foodie as they gain competence one patience-testing meal at a time. Remember, every baby develops at their own pace. These milestones are a general guideline, and it's important not to compare your baby to others. If you have any concerns about your baby's development, consult your pediatrician. They can assess your baby's progress and address any concerns you may have.

Celebrate each milestone, trust their signals, watch their reactions, and let your little one set the pace. By supporting independence alongside togetherness, you’ll nurture an intuitive eater ready to thrive and enjoy family mealtimes ahead.

To help your tiny foodie thrive on their food journey, explore doddl’s range of weaning feeding products like toddler utensils and non-slip baby bowls and children's plates.

With all the tools to make mealtimes mess-free and fun, you can focus on creating lasting memories around the family table.

 

 

We work alongside experts to help provide the best guidance in the information we provide. 

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