Overtime your baby will gradually stop relying on milk, replacing it with those all-exciting solids.
But how fast does this happen and what should you expect?
At a glance
- Your little one will still need milk when they are weaning
- As more solid food is eaten, babies naturally start to drink less breast milk or formula
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.
It's important that solid food shouldn't simply replace baby's usual milk.
Research suggests that milk plays a part in helping a baby's digestive system to deal with their first solids.
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.
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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 might try dropping 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.
Small amounts of whole cows’ milk can be mixed with food from 6 months. Whole cows’ milk can be given as a drink from 1 year. Cows’ milk as a drink shouldn’t be given before 1 year as it doesn’t have the right balance of nutrients. Also, iron from cows’ milk is not absorbed as well as it is from mum’s milk. Carry on with mum’s milk for as long as you both want.
Most mums find that their baby is happier if they can breastfeed on demand day and night. It is normal for a baby to need night feeds until somewhere between 6 and 12 months. Once baby is enjoying a range of solid foods, they will probably spend shorter periods breastfeeding.
Some mothers become concerned that they do not know if baby is getting enough milk. It is best to trust baby to know how much milk they need and to concentrate on introducing a variety of weaning foods, including dairy, and encouraging the use of a beaker for drinks.