The Three Stages of Weaning

by Yara Gholmie, RD

Complementary feeding or weaning is presenting solid foods to your baby along with his milk feeds (breast milk or formula). As mentioned in the previous post (Is my baby ready to wean?), babies develop at different rates so begin when your baby is ready – the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends babies to wean by 6 months. Begin weaning by 6 months but not before 4 months, by then, healthy term babies are ready to learn new feeding skills and milk feeds alone no longer provide all the nutrients and calories they need to grow and develop normally. There are 3 stages to weaning: Stage 1 begins at 6 months, upon weaning with a smooth mash or puree for the first few tastes. Followed by stage 2 once your baby has learnt to accept smooth foods, you are ready to move on to mashed food with soft lumps and offer soft finger foods with all meals. Finally, by 9 months of age at stage 3, your baby is ready to move on to minced and chopped foods and you should start encouraging self-feed. The 3 stages are described below. 

Stage 1… Weaning at 6 months

Choose a quiet time of day, half way through a feed:

      Smooth mash or purees

      Your baby’s tongue will push forward and food will come back out at first

      Small amounts once a day

Move on by giving your baby solids before the milk feed:

      Move on to 2 meals/day and then 3 meals/day

      Give different foods at each meal:

-       Baby Cereals, mashed soft cooked vegetables and mashed soft/cooked fruit

-       Use breast milk or formula to mix with food, and slowly start adding in :

      Pureed/ mashed meat, fish, chicken or egg (well-cooked)

      Lentils or pulses

      Mashed rice, noodles or pasta

      Full fat dairy products

Stage 2… my baby is 6-9 months

      Increase the quantity according your infant’s interest and appetite – offer foods from all 4 food groups

      Your infant may need to try many times before learning to like a new food/taste

      As the amount of solids increases the volume of breast/ formula milk will decrease

      Offer a cup of water with meals

      Encourage finger foods, self-feeding and mess

      Babies learn by coping: eat with your infant and include him at family meal


Stage 3… my baby is 9-12 months

      Your infant is now biting and chewing onto family foods and family meals

      You can now cut out early morning milk feeds

      Cut out bottles and change to open cups or free flow beakers

      Reduce milk feeds one by one to 2 feeds per day at 11-12 months