How do I wean a six-month-old?
My baby boy, Tyler, will be six months old tomorrow. He was exclusively breast-fed until 24 weeks, at which point we started weaning, and my plan is to continue with breast-feeding. He has followed the contented baby routine from around 10 weeks, which suits him brilliantly, and he is a complete star. He falls asleep as soon as he is put into his cot, and feeds and sleeps when he is supposed to – he’s great!
The only concerns I have at the moment are related to weaning. All the research and reading that I’ve seen, recommends exclusive breastfeeding until six months – which we have done. The problem is, however, that although the government recommends 6 months, the meal planners/suggestions start from 4 months (I have your Contented Weaning book).
Tyler’s weight last week was 15lb 10oz (he was 7lb 8oz at birth) and although he is still within the parameters, he is dipping slightly. The health visitor said he was fine, but recommended increasing his solids. He is taking his solids brilliantly, and has done from day one, although he refuses carrot. I’ve left it for a few days and tried to re-introduce it as you suggest, but I can only get away with very small amounts mixed with rice or sweet potato. At the moment I give him the following, all of which is homemade and organic: 7am – Half breast-feed, 1 tsp baby rice, remainder breast-feed
11am – 2 cubes carrot (or sweet potato)
5.45pm – Half breast-feed, 2 cubes apple (or pear), remainder breast-feed
10pm – 2oz expressed milk
I have been giving him as much solids as he seems to want (within reason) but I’m concerned I might be increasing it too quickly; I’m still sticking to first tastes at the moment. He seems happy and loves his food. I haven’t noticed a decrease in his milk intake, although it is obviously hard to tell. I don’t know the ‘mechanics’ of his digestive system, and perhaps his body needs time to adjust, but he is only filling his nappy every 3-4 days since weaning started, compared to at least once a day previously.
I would be grateful if you could give me your view on how I should adjust the feeding plan for Tyler, in view of him not starting weaning until 24 weeks.
I appreciate how difficult and confusing it is for many mothers since the change in the weaning recommendations. It is, however, important to remember that the latest advice is only a recommendation and that all babies are different and their individual needs must be met. Looking at Tyler’s feeding details, it would appear as if you have cut out his 11am milk feed before you have increased his solids enough. The effect of this is that his overall daily intake has reduced, and this is why his weight is dropping slightly. If you refer to the ‘Gina responds’ page on the website, you will find advice for parents who decide to wait until their baby is six months before weaning; here, I suggest that babies in this category must continue with four to five milk feeds until well-established on solids.
At six months, it is also important to work through the four-month weaning guidelines that I recommend in my book more quickly, increasing the amount and types of foods every couple of days, instead of every three to four days. I would also strongly suggest that you introduce some carbohydrates to Tyler at lunchtime and in the evening; this can be in the form of sweet potato, rice, breakfast cereal or pasta. The introduction of iron-rich foods is also very important at the six-month stage, when a baby’s initial iron reserves fall. These should initially be in the form of beans, green leafy vegetables, dried fruit or fortified breakfast cereals, but red meat, chicken and fish should be introduced soon afterwards, as iron is more easily absorbed from animal sources. Please note Paul Sacher’s tip to consume something rich in Vitamin C alongside the iron-rich food to aid absorption, e.g. orange juice.
I hope you will find this advice useful and, once you have made some small adjustments, I am certain that Tyler will continue to thrive as well as he has done during his first six months.