Research shows that babies only need mum’s milk or infant formula for around the first 6 months of their life. This time gives a baby’s digestive system time to develop so that they can cope with solid foods. When a baby starts on solid foods it is their chance to explore all the wonderful and exciting tastes, textures and smells of the food they will learn to enjoy.
Weaning is the change in which a baby gradually moves from having breastmilk (or infant formula) towards having solid foods without this at all.
Learning to eat solid foods is a natural stage of development for babies and allows them to develop their natural instinct for eating according to their needs.
The first foods introduced in this transition stage are sometimes called complementary foods, as they should complement breastmilk (or infant formula) rather than replace it.
It can be confusing to know when and how to start introducing solids to your little one.
What are the signs?
There are 3 clear signs, which, when they appear together from around 6 months of age, show that your baby is ready for their first solid foods. They will be able to:
stay in a sitting position, holding their head steady
coordinate their eyes, hands and mouth so they can look at their food, pick it up and put it in their mouth
swallow food (rather than spit it back out)
The following behaviours can be mistaken for signs of being ready for solid foods:
Taking medication does not usually mean that you have to stop breastfeeding temporarily or permanently. Most medicines, including those used to treat postnatal depression, can be taken while you're breastfeeding without harming your baby.
Small amounts of any medicine you take may pass through your breast milk to your baby. Generally, the amounts are very low and very few medicines are unsafe while you're breastfeeding. But it's always best to tell your doctor, dentist or pharmacist that you're breastfeeding. For the most up to date information and facts go to The Breastfeeding Network, Drugs Fact Sheet or call the National Breastfeeding Helpline – 0800 1000212
No evidence exists to say that the use of tanning beds has any effect on human milk or breastfed babies. However, some mothers have reported getting burnt nipples and breasts when using tanning beds: this is extremely painful so be sure to cover your nipples and breasts and use caution. It's generally considered safe to use fake tan creams and lotions during pregnancy, but it's probably best to avoid spray tans, because the effects of inhaling the spray are not known.
It is generally assumed that ink molecules are too large to pass into breastmilk during the tattoo process. Once injected into the skin the ink is trapped, however it is unknown whether the ink can pass into breastmilk as it slowly breaks down in the body months to years later. Infections are the most prevalent risks of tattooing.
Local infections can occur when the recommended aftercare regimen is not followed. Allergic reactions to the ink used may also occur - with red inks being the most prevalent, even after many previous tattoos.
As a new mum, not smoking is also the single most important thing you can do to protect your own health.
However, if you're finding it hard to quit smoking, it's important not to stop breastfeeding. Breastfeeding will still protect your baby from infections and provide nutrients they can't get from formula milk. The Breastfeeding Network has some great information here.
Smoking around your baby exposes them to second-hand smoke. This can mean that your baby’s small and delicate airways are irritated, and your baby can find it harder to breathe.
If you are smoking, please talk to your midwife for more information about local stop smoking support to help you.
There is lots of support for pregnant women in Kent and Medway to quit smoking.
If you or your partner smokes, you should not share a bed or sofa to sleep with your baby as this greatly increases the chance of SIDS even if you do not smoke in the bedroom.