Your baby will gradually stop relying on milk, replacing it with those all-exciting solids.
So how fast does this happen and what should you expect?
At a glance
- Your little one will still need milk when they first start weaning
- As more solid food is eaten, babies naturally start to drink less breast milk or formula
- The night feed is usually the first one to go at around 6 months
Should I substitute a milk feed with food when I first start weaning?
No, your little one still needs the same amount of milk for a while. At the beginning they’re still learning how to eat and most food ends up on you, them and the floor. But as they start eating more solid food, they will naturally start drinking less breast milk or formula, depending on how much energy they need.
When you first start weaning, offer your baby a breastfeed or a little formula before you give them food. By taking the edge of their appetite, they can enjoy learning to take food from a spoon. Start weaning with just one meal of solids a day when your baby is most awake and not too hungry.
How do I know my baby is ready to start cutting down on feeds?
If you don’t let your baby fill up on milk feeds before meals, they’ll start taking less automatically and the amount of feeds will drop off naturally.
You’ll know your baby is losing interest in milk if they’re easily distracted from feeds, or if they’ll only drink a small amount before giving up.
How much milk can I expect my baby to be having?
After 6 months, babies only need 500-600ml of formula a day, so you can give them water after meals to quench their thirst – especially in warm weather. It’ll help stimulate their appetite for food, too.
Breast-fed babies will feed on demand, but formula-fed babies will probably continue in the routine they were used to, but going longer between feeds. Both will gradually start taking less milk.
Which feeds will we probably drop first?
The night feed is normally the first one to go - from six months, few babies need a night feed. Try gradually cutting down the amount you give at night, and boost the last feed of the evening, so your baby has enough to keep them going till the first feed in the morning.
When will milk feeds drop off substantially?
By the time your baby is eating three meals a day, feeds should really start dropping off. When you first start weaning at around six months - your baby will still need regular breastfeeds, or a minimum of 500-600ml of formula a day. But they’ll need less and less as they learn to eat properly.
‘At one point when I was weaning her, she started getting hard to put down at night and was waking up again – basically she was hungrier, so we gave her finger food at the end of the day, and it helped her sleep through.’ - Emma, mum of 1
‘I think they feel the loss of their routine when they drop the night feed, but you shouldn’t feel guilty about not going to them when they cry – just remind yourself that they’ve had enough food and milk to keep them going. If you can sleep through, even if it’s only till 5am, you feel so much better.’ - Eve, mum of 3