The process of weaning may take longer in babies born prematurely than in term babies. This section of the Bliss website is intended to provide guidance on weaning your healthy preterm infant. Babies with ongoing medical conditions that affect feeding or growth should follow advice from their local team.

All ages given in the pages in this section of the website are calculated from the date your baby was born, no matter how premature that was (unless otherwise stated). This is known as your baby’s ‘chronological’ or ‘uncorrected’ age. A corrected age is the age of your baby from the date your baby was due.

What is weaning?

‘Weaning’ is the gradual introduction of solid foods to a baby who has only ever had breast milk or baby milk formula as their nourishment.

Why wean?

  • Babies reach a point when breast or formula milk no longer supplies all the nutrients they need to grow well.
  • New tastes and textures help encourage babies to eat a good range of foods later on, and ensure that their diet is well balanced.
  • Solids help babies to practice lip, tongue and jaw movements.

Special requirements

If your baby has developed a long-term illness, for example developmental delay or ongoing gastro-oesophageal reflux, they may have more specific nutritional and/or feeding problems. If so, you may be referred to your local paediatric dietitian or speech and language therapist. If you are not and you feel you need help, make sure that you ask your health visitor or doctor, who can refer you.

Your baby’s growth

Each baby will have his or her own individual growth pattern, particularly if he or she has long-term health problems. Many preterm babies will be small; some catch up, and others don’t. For those who don’t, this may be perfectly normal for them, as long as they are following their own growth curve.

The best way to see how well your baby is growing is for health professionals to regularly measure his or her weight, length and head circumference. It is important that this is done accurately and at the best time intervals (a common pitfall is doing it too often). Your local baby clinic is the best place for this. Ask your health visitor for more information.

Next: Considerations for preterm children