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Your essential guide to weaning

You may have mastered the breast or bottle-feeding stage, but you’re not a fully-fledged mum until you’ve had pureed carrot flung into your hair. Making a mess is all part and parcel of the weaning process, that time when your baby switches to solid foods. But, while you may have many mucky mealtimes ahead of you, this is an exciting time for your little one to try new tastes and textures.
Getting started
So, when’s the right time to start? You should only start weaning at six months, regardless of whether you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding your baby, as babies get all the nutrients they need from breast milk or infant formula prior to this. Any earlier and your child’s digestive system and kidneys are not ready to deal with solid food. Also, early weaning has been linked to digestive problems and obesity later in life. 
Then, look out for the surefire signs that your little one is ready to take on the hard stuff. They can:
Stay in a sitting position
Swallow food safely
Pick up food and put it into their mouths, unaided
Weaning wish list
Gear up for the feeding challenge ahead with a highchair (always opt for one that is easy to wipe clean), soft weaning spoons and plastic bowls, bibs, disposable or plastic messy mats to protect the floor, and a blender to turn all those dishes into baby-friendly mush.
Feeding tips
There will be days when your baby will gulp down every spoon, and others when it is just a battle to get them into the highchair. But, you can increase your chances of success with these tips:
Timing: start at a time when your baby is fully awake, happy and half full 
Keep it simple: for the first time, try basic baby rice to get your little one used to a thicker texture
Have fun: forget all your table manners and get messy and playful with the food 
Small measures: start with just a few spoonfuls
What’s on the menu?
Start with a simple vegetable or fruit puree, carrot or pear are always popular, and then you can move on to blended or mashed potato, parsnip, apples or bananas. If your baby doesn’t find these too hard to swallow, introduce a new taste every three to four days – and start to combine flavours. 
Homemade is always best and, to save time, make up batches of different pureed dishes and freeze them in individual serving pots.