Feeding FAQ: 4-6 months – Weaning

Why does Gina advise introducing first solids at the 11am feed? Many of my friends who have weaned their babies started doing so after the first feed in the morning or after the 2/2.30 pm feed?

To establish a healthy pattern of three solid meals a day, it is important that milk and solids are structured so that the baby gets the right balance of milk and solids during the first year. Aiming for mealtimes at around 7.30am, 12noon and 5pm will ensure that this happens and that milk feeds are not reduced too quickly.

By offering first solids after the 11am milk feed, it is easier to gradually push the milk and solids on and establish a proper lunch at 12 noon, than it is to bring the milk and solids back from 2/2.30pm to 12 noon. Also, up until the age of six months, your baby needs milk – it is still the most important source of nutrition, providing him with the right balance of vitamins and minerals. By giving your baby his first solids after the 11am feed, you can be sure he has had nearly half his daily milk intake before noon, and that his milk intake is not reduced too quickly.

Also, because most babies wake between 6am and 7am, breakfast solids will eventually come at around 7.30am – introducing first solids at 2/2.30pm would mean too long a wait between meals. Some parents resolve this by giving a milk feed at 11am so the baby can get through to 2/2.30pm. However this can lead to other problems, the main one being that as the baby grows and milk alone no longer satisfies his hunger, he may start to wake up earlier from his lunchtime nap genuinely hungry. If this happens the solids are usually offered earlier than 2/2.30pm, but often the baby does not feed so well because he is too tired due to a shorter lunchtime nap. Another problem, which often occurs when first solids are given at 2/2.30pm, is that the baby cuts back too much on his 6pm milk feed, which in turn results in him waking earlier for his 10pm feed. This can have a knock-on effect and result in early-morning waking.

If first solids after given after a baby’s breakfast milk, they may well cut back too quickly on the amount of milk he drinks at the 11am feed, thus denying them the essential vitamins and minerals that is provided by milk. The lunchtime nap could also be affected as a smaller milk feed and no solids could cause him to wake early through hunger. Once again, this can have a knock-on effect for his night-time sleep.

Giving first solids at 11am not only makes it easier to establish three solid meals a day, but it ensures that the baby’s milk intake is not reduced too quickly and the correct balance of milk and solids are established.

Please note: “first solids” means the first solid meal that is introduced. The CLB weaning guide recommends that first solid meal is introduced at 11am, and gradually pushed onto 12 noon, the second solid meal is introduced after the 6pm feed, and eventually brought back to 5pm. Once solids are established at lunch and tea, the third solid meal is introduced after the breakfast milk.