My First Five Years

Here's eveything you need to know about when to wean your baby!

Confused about weaning? You’re not alone, a survey of 1,000 parents in England found that 64% of parents had received conflicting advice about weaning and 40% felt unsure about when to wean.[1] At My First Five Years, we know the importance of having information you can trust, so we work with paediatric dietician and food therapist Lucy Upton for our content about nutrition.   

We asked Lucy to share more information about what people mean when they talk about weaning, and how parents know when it’s time to wean (the readiness signs might not be the ones you’ve heard about!) 

What is weaning?  

Weaning, also known as ‘complementary feeding’ is a term used to describe starting food or ‘solids’ when a baby is around 6 months old. It marks the start of your baby learning how to eat, and the transition away from milk as their primary source of nutrition toward family foods.  

When should a baby start solids/weaning?  

In the UK, current guidance recommends that babies start complementary feeding (weaning) at around 6 months, and not before 17 weeks of age. Before 6 months of age, a baby’s entire nutritional needs (energy and nutrients) can be met with breast milk and/or formula milk. Exactly when to start weaning should ideally be led by your baby (not just the clock), and more specifically when they are showing four key developmental milestones for readiness. These are:  

  1. Your baby should be able to sit upright in a seated position – with minimal support.  
  1. Your baby should have good head control. 
  1. Your baby should be able to see food, pick it up and bring it towards their mouth (meaning they can coordinate their eyes, hands and mouth).  
  1. Your baby should be able to start swallowing food – this means that their tongue thrust reflex (that intuitive push out of their tongue when something is in their mouth) is beginning to reduce.  

What are not considered signs of readiness for solid foods?   

There is a lot of misinformation about weaning, and blogs or articles will often reference signs of readiness, such as fist chewing, not sleeping through the night, a baby not seeming full with milk feeds or increased interest in your foods. These are not considered to be the key developmental cues needed, and shouldn’t be used as a reference for when your baby is ready for solids.  

What about if a baby has reflux, I heard early weaning can help?  

Starting solids ‘early’ is often a reflux management strategy recommended for babies, especially if other strategies have not been successful in managing a baby’s symptoms. Despite this, there is no good quality or robust evidence that shows starting solids support reflux management in babies. Parents report very mixed outcomes on the impact of early weaning.  

The theory behind this recommendation is that solids may increase the viscosity (thickness) of the stomach contents compared to milk alone, thus reducing reflux symptoms. Despite this, babies often only manage very small tastes of foods in the early days and weeks of weaning, and some parents also find that reflux symptoms can become more of a challenge to manage when solids are commenced. Weaning before a baby is developmentally ready to do so can also lead to challenges with weaning progress overall.    

If you are worried about managing your baby’s reflux, then discuss it with a registered health professional first, and ensure all other management strategies have been explored first before considering early weaning. Remember: starting solids is never recommended before 17 weeks of age.   


While your grandma might remember putting rusk in baby’s bottle, or your parents have a vague memory of weaning at 16 weeks, we know the importance of waiting to wean now – so be confident about your decision.  

We are an app that challenges conventional wisdom, by looking at what research tells us about the new best ways to parent. In the app, you will find a wealth of information about your baby’s development as well as simple ideas for ways you can support them – and a personalised skills journey that helps you see all the small steps that support their learning.  

My First Five Years


[1] Office for Health Improvement & Disparities (2022, 4 March). Better health start for life weaning campaign: methodology and summary of results. Available at: