Weaning is one of the most exciting stages in every baby’s development, where they can start to play a bigger part of the family as they get stuck in at mealtimes, and learn the useful skills and movements that come with eating and feeding yourself.

While lots of us might have been used to the old spoon-as-a-helicopter routine when we were growing up, baby-led weaning has been taking the lead in recent years, giving your babies a chance to play and discover food themselves.

Those first steps at getting to grips with meal-time can seem a little daunting, but by paying attention to a few key things, you can make weaning fun and stress-free activity.

Start introducing solid foods after 6 months

While your baby will be enjoying a diet exclusively of breast or formula milk for the first six months, it’s around this age that they’ll start to show signs that they’re ready to try out solid food too.

You’ll know you’re there when your baby is able to hold their head steadily while sitting up unsupported. They’ll also start to get the hang of that tricky coordination routine between their eyes and hands, as they look at and pick things up and put them in their mouth.

Choose the right texture

Learning to wean is about getting the hang of all the different sensations that come with food, including discovering the variety of textures, flavours and smells that come with every mouthful.

For babies, that can get a little overwhelming, so start slow with soft, lumpy foods and finger foods. Cooked vegetables such as broccoli or sweet potato are great to cut into small, easy to hold chunks. Soft fruits and berries, such as mangos and strawberries are also a great way of introducing a variety of texture and flavour.

You can start to bring in more complex textures over time, such as cooked pasta, strips of toast or pita, and cooked slices of meat, as they get better at chewing.

Be ready for a mess

There’s no avoiding it – weaning is a messy process. You probably won’t want to bother with dishes or plates to start with, as most food will end up on your baby, rather than inside them. 

Coverall weaning bibs like these from BIBaDO can be a useful way of keeping things easy to clean, while a big, wipe-clean mat under their high chair is a handy way of cleaning food off of the floor afterwards.

Take your time

Weaning is different for every baby, and sometimes it can take a little more time for a baby to get used to new textures or flavours. 

There’s no rush to start eating big meals, as your baby will still have their nutritional needs met from their milk. Remember that this process is all about learning and experimenting, so give yourself and your baby plenty of time to play and discover.