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 baby 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?
Your baby will do this them self. Once they are eating more than a few teaspoons If you give the milk feed after the solid food they’ll start taking less automatically and the amount of feeds will drop off naturally.
How much milk can I expect my baby to be having?
After 6 months, babies need at least 500-600ml of formula a day, but some may still be drinking more than this. You can give them cooled, boiled water with meals to quench their thirst – and between meals in hot weather if they seem thirsty. Breast-fed babies will continue to feed on demand.
Which feeds will we probably drop first?
The night feed is normally the first one to go - from around six to eight weeks babies can begin sleeping through the night – their hormones control this. Unfortunately some do this much later. From six months, few babies need a night feed. If your baby is still waking try gradually cutting down the amount you give at night so that they do not come to depend on it.
When will milk feeds drop off substantially?
By the time your baby is eating three meals a day, feeds should start dropping off but it depends on how much your baby is eating.
- When you start giving your baby two courses at their main meals they may refuse a milk feed after the meal altogether.
- From around 9 months of age you can drop the early morning milk feed and give your baby breakfast first when they wake. This way they will eat more breakfast and you can offer a milk feed after breakfast instead.
‘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