Here are some tips to help you start to wean your premature baby.
It can help to plan when you want to start weaning. Parents can find it easier if they choose a time when their baby isn't too hungry or tired.
Playing with food is an important part of learning about how to eat it. Giving your baby some food to touch and feel can be helpful.
They will likely spit food out to start with, as they get used to new textures. This is to be expected and you can help encourage your baby to continue to eat.
This can mean the early stages of weaning can be a bit messy, but this is a usual part of the process of learning!
It can be easier to start with one meal a day and see how your baby reacts. Choose the best time of day for you and your baby.
You may want to try feeding your baby with your family at meal times, or separately to start with, or a bit of both.
Like milk feeding, it is important that you and your baby are comfortable when trying new foods.
The best feeding positions will let your baby:
- Bring their hands together
- Be supported to sit upright
- Hold their head up easily
To begin with, you may wish to have your baby in your arms whilst trying food for the first time. This can be helpful to start with, but over time most professionals agree it is better to have them in a seated position in front of you.
This means your baby can keep eye contact with you and that you can show how foods can be eaten.
"Find the right seat. I found a seat that was upright enough to allow easy swallowing but reclined enough to support my baby, as he wasn't ready to sit without support in a high chair."
Katherine, mum to Alexander
Always make sure your baby is supported so that they can sit without sliding or slumping to one side. You should never leave your baby alone whilst they are eating.
Once your baby is older, highchairs with trays can provide a helpful position for your baby to hold food in their hands and feed themselves.
Remember that weaning is a process of introducing your baby to food gradually. You should continue with breastmilk or forumla milk feeds. Find out more in our section on which drinks you can give your baby.