Should I reduce milk feeds now that my baby is eating solid food?

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In the first year, solid foods should only complement - not replace - baby’s milk feeds. So take cues from your baby and don’t reduce milk feeds or stop breastfeeding on demand just because solid food has entered the picture. Breastmilk (or formula) continues to be the primary nutrition for your baby, so don't skimp!

You’ll often find that in baby led weaning, especially in the beginning, much of the food ends up on the floor or on baby’s face, so don’t mistake the amount he or she is actually digesting! At this stage, solids won’t likely fulfil their hunger as they haven’t quite got the knack of eating quite yet.

If you are breastfeeding, you can offer a milk feed prior to baby's solids meal - try an hour or so before the meal. This will also keep up demand for your milk in a way that will allow you to keep up your milk supply.

As your baby begins to eat more (i.e. three small meals a day), they will gradually cut down the amount of milk they drink. If you’re breastfeeding, you may not even notice this as cutting down on drinking milk doesn’t necessarily decrease time on the breast or frequency of feeds. 

If you are bottle feeding, allow baby to stop when he or she indicates they’ve had enough. Generally speaking, once fully established on solids, baby should get about 600ml of formula milk daily. But, as always, all babies are different. Check with your GP or health visitor if you have any concerns.

The best rule of thumb, even after introducing solids, is to follow your baby’s lead and continue to provide milk on demand.

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My baby is constantly hungry and milk doesn’t seem to be enough. Time to start solids?

breastfeeding-baby-led-weaning-introducing-solids

Not necessarily. Growing babies have ups and downs in their appetites. Growth spurts and “wonder weeks” can often mean that your baby will become a real guzzler for your milk during certain periods of time. While cluster feeding can be exhausting, it is entirely normal!

If your baby is under six months, and growing and developing as they should, you should feel confident that milk is meeting their needs.

Even once you have introduced solids, remember that in the first year they will only complement - never replace - your milk feeds. So take cues from your baby and don’t reduce milk feeds or stop breastfeeding on demand just because solid food has entered the picture! And don't give into the myth that solids will help baby sleep through the night - it's simply not true

Appetite has little to do with signs of readiness for solid foods. Get familiar with the developmental milestones to judge whether babe is truly ready.

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My baby is 7 months old and doesn’t yet seem ready for solids. Should I be worried?

baby-led-weaning-7-months-not-ready-wont-eat

You might find that your baby is not as instantly interested in solids as you thought they would be! There are a few things to keep in mind. 

First, all babies develop on different schedules. Some babies show signs of developmental readiness earlier than others. 

Second, solid food should be mainly for ‘fun’ in the first year - baby’s primary nutrition will continue to come from milk. As long as your baby is growing and developing as they should, you can take that as a signal that milk is meeting their needs well. Sometime after six months, babies start to need more iron and zinc than can be provided in breast milk, so adding small amounts of solids helps to meet these needs. Keep offering food as soon as they are developmentally ready, but keep up with your regular milk feeds as normal. 

And of course, always speak to your GP or health visitor if you are concerned! 

Learn how to introduce solids to your baby

Get the FREE 5-day course and learn how to wean well. Sign up for First Foods Fundamentals to start your baby-led weaning journey, step-by-step, with lessons delivered to your inbox!