Weaning: how to tell when the baby is ready

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Of course, there are precise times to start weaning scientific indications. In particular, the World Health Organization recommends waiting for i six months completed before switching from milk-only nutrition (remembering that the optimal standard is breast milk) to complementary one.

Read also: 4 month weaning?

But children are not machines so it is important, beyond the official indications, to take into account their individual characteristics and when they are actually ready to take this important step. On the other hand, waiting for the right moment is essential to get started on the right foot and avoid some unnecessary frustration for both the baby and the parents.


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The signs that make it possible to understand that the child is ready

Weaning doesn't just mean changing what you eat: it should also mean changing what you eat change the way you eat. No longer in the arms, semi-lying down, but seated: no longer through sucking alone, but also through other movements of the mouth. That is why the child needs to be ready, that is, that he has reached a certain degree of cognitive and psychomotor development. In particular it should:

  • being able to sit on an autonomous motorbike, with the head erect;
  • being able to grasp and manipulate objects with both hands;
  • being able to bring objects to the mouth to eat and swallow them and not just to explore them;
  • having lost the reflex of extrusion, that is, the push out of the tongue for anything that is not liquid;
  • knowing how to coordinate movements with sight (oculo-motor coordination);
  • show interest in the foods on the table and the food that parents and siblings eat.

As pediatricians point out Luigi Nastri, Jacopo Pagani and Andrea Vania in the book Learn to eat, the right weaning with the Margherita method (Giunti 2022), all this usually happens around six months, precisely the moment considered as optimal by the WHO. Of course, it can happen earlier, but it is very rare that it happens before five and a half months.

Weaning, when you need to anticipate

In some cases, however, it may be necessary to anticipate weaning anyway (never before four months), even if the baby is not yet perfectly ready. Which? Let's read what Nastri, Pagani and Vania write:

“For example some child whose growth curve - measured with the appropriate tables, however, those of the WHO for breastfeeding - starts to go down before 6 months, or some other infant who needs integrate iron deposits first ".

"A special case is represented by the baby fed with formula milk that grows too large, especially in weight: here it may be justified to start weaning earlier (in any case not before 4 months) by replacing a feed with fruit, which having much fewer calories than the formula will help satiate it while containing further weight gain ".

What if the child doesn't want to know?

This can also happen. As he explains Alberto Ferrando in the book How to feed my child, “some children within the first year of life remain linked to a predominantly milky diet and have a poorly varied diet. Don't worry, as deficiencies are unlikely to develop. In any case, it will be the pediatrician who will give useful information for any supplements of vitamins or essential substances ".

Read also: Weaning: Why Does My Baby Not Want to Eat? What to do to convince him?

Sources for this article: Infant and young child feeding, World Health Organization recommendations (2022); A. Ferrando, How to feed my son (LSWR Editions, 2022); L. Nastri, J. Pagani, A. Vania, Let's learn to eat, the right weaning with the Margherita method (Giunti 2022); consultancy from nutrition pediatricians Giacomo Cagnoli and Ilaria Giulini Neri, from the Melegnano hospital and consultants from the ICANS center of the University of our city.

  • weaning
  • baby ready for weaning
  • self-weaning
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