Stages of Weaning a Baby: What Lies Ahead?

Has your baby just gotten started on the weaning process?

Do you get the feeling weaning is coming soon but hasn’t quite started yet for your little one?

Wouldn’t it be nice to know what to expect throughout the weaning process and what will happen during each stage?

If you’ve ever caught yourself asking questions about the stages of weaning a baby, we’ve got answers!

In this article, we’ll give you a quick rundown of the goals you can expect to achieve when you’re weaning your little one. From there, we’ll break down the entire process month by month so you’ll know exactly what’s coming whether you’re weaning your baby at 6 months or weaning a baby at 1 year.

Within each stage, we’ll let you know what you can expect from your baby as well as what you can continue doing for your little one during this time. Things will be changing pretty quickly while you’re weaning your baby, so it can help to know what to look for along the way and understand how you can help your baby succeed, too.

We’ll also make sure you know what challenges you might end up facing throughout the process, too. Weaning can be difficult for babies and parents both, but when you know what to expect, you’ll be better prepared for any possibility.

Read on to get started learning everything you need to know about the weaning stages and more!

Goals to Achieve During Weaning

Weaning is important for a variety of different reasons. Throughout the weaning process, you and your child will reach different goals and achievements that mark special milestones for your baby’s development. Some of these may be more obvious than others, but it’s important to know which goals you’re aiming for before you ever get started with weaning. This way, when your baby reaches one, you can celebrate together and know you’re doing well!

weaning a baby
  • Transitioning to solid food: This is the most exciting of the baby weaning goals! Your baby will eventually be able to enjoy eating solid food and will no longer require breast milk or formula to survive and thrive. When this happens, a world of fun flavors and textures will be opened to your baby, and you’ll be able to have lots of new experiences together as you help introduce your child to tasty new foods.
  • More independence for your baby: When your baby doesn’t have to rely on milk for every meal or even for most meals, he or she will have a little more independence. Weaning is a great way to encourage your child to be more independent and to start making decisions well, too. As soon as your baby is old enough to understand and respond, you can start asking simple questions (“Do you want bananas or peaches?”) to help your child develop better decision-making skills. All of this works together to shape your little one into an older child who can do a few things on his or her own.
  • More independence for you: Although at first, you may feel very sad to think of your breastfeeding and bottle-feeding sessions being finished, you’re sure to soon enjoy the extra freedom and independence that comes from being able to feed your baby solid foods instead. You’ll be able to enjoy meals with your baby at the table with you, and as your child gets older, mealtimes will be a lot less hands-on for you, too.
  • More restful nights: During the weaning process, nights may not be very restful at all as your baby adjusts to this new eating schedule. However, when weaning is complete, you should notice you and your child having better nights of sleep. Your baby will start waking up less and less during the night, and this is a plus for everyone in the family!

Of course, there a lot of other goals to keep in mind when weaning your little one, but these should give you a good general idea of what to expect. You and your partner can work together to come up with other goals you may want to celebrate with your child along the way, too.

Stages of Baby Weaning

Each month of the weaning process can be considered a different stage of baby weaning. In this portion of our article, we’ll take you month by month throughout weaning your baby and help you better understand what each month may hold. Remember, however, that not all babies have to begin weaning at 5 months, and not all babies have to be finished weaning at one year. Your baby’s individual needs can be better addressed by his or her pediatrician.

Five Months

Many parents find themselves wondering “is it possible to start weaning my baby at 5 months?” The short answer is yes, but take note that there are some stipulations to doing this. For example, if you’re trying baby led weaning, chances are good your child won’t be showing a lot of signs that he or she is ready to wean at 5 months. If you need to go back to work after maternity leave or have some other reason to begin weaning at this time, however, it can work well with the right plan.

weaning my baby at 5 months

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What to expect from your baby:

At this point, your baby is still very young. If you begin weaning now, expect a lot of fussiness, as your child won’t totally understand what’s going on. However, your baby’s activity levels will increase at this time, so you may notice your child being much hungrier at mealtimes, which can facilitate easier weaning.

weaning my 5 month old baby

What you can do for your baby:

If you’ve been breastfeeding, continue breastfeeding almost exclusively at this time. Even if your baby is ready to start weaning, you don’t want to get into it too quickly at this point. Breastfeed for all but one meal each day. Try offering very simple first foods, like rice cereal or pureed banana, but don’t push it if your child isn’t ready yet.

Challenges you may experience:

You may be trying to get started weaning quickly because of your own schedule. While this is understandable and acceptable, the biggest challenge at this stage may be that your child simply isn’t developmentally ready to wean yet.

Six Months

“How about weaning my baby at 6 months?” you may be asking. This is the most common time to begin parent-led weaning, and many baby led weaning infants are getting ready to start the process at this time, too. Weaning 6 month old baby is generally considered much safer than starting at 5 months. Even though there’s only a month’s difference, the developmental changes that take place during this time are significant and can make a huge difference in your baby’s weaning success. It’s often recommended to keep exclusively breastfeeding your baby until six months of age, but remember that every baby’s situation is a little different, and this may not hold true for your child.

weaning my baby at 6 months

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What to expect from your baby:

When weaning baby 6 months of age, understand that your child may be ready to stop right away or may cling to the idea of breastfeeding desperately. Your baby will still want skin-to-skin contact with you at this point, so you may have better luck with offering solids (or bottles) if you start with nursing for a couple of minutes first.

how to wean a baby at 6 months

What you can do for your baby:

Understanding how to wean a baby at 6 months means knowing how important you still are in this process. You can help your baby by nursing when he or she won’t eat and cuddling a lot when things get stressful for your child. Start trying to prepare your own baby foods at this point, too.

Challenges you may experience:

Some nursing moms notice that milk supply starts to dwindle starting from 6 months. Others may have the opposite problem, and you may find that your breasts are painful and engorged when you stop regularly nursing your baby. Speak to your doctor for help if this happens, and try cold compresses to relieve the pain.

Seven Months

Weaning 7 month old baby is a little bit of a different experience from focusing on a 5-month-old or 6-month-old child. At seven months, your child is a little bit more developed and should be stronger with most of his or her motor skills. If your baby is developing a little bit more slowly than the standard, that’s okay—this is still a perfectly good age to begin the weaning process. However, if you’ve been weaning your child for a little while already, you may notice some new challenges arising with baby weaning 7 months and beyond. You’re still a crucial part of your child’s success at this point, so don’t forget to comfort and soothe when your baby gets fussy when weaning.

weaning 7 month old baby

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What to expect from your baby:

Your baby is probably getting a lot more active by this point! You may choose to introduce a sippy cup as early as this stage, but many parents find it works better to wait a few more months before doing this. There may be more sleep interruptions during this stage, but try not to soothe your baby with nursing sessions if it can be helped. This could cause a weaning setback.

baby weaning 7 months

What you can do for your baby:

If teething has begun by now, start preparing tasty purees or other treats for your baby that may feel soothing to his or her gums and teeth. Try making yummy baby oatmeal at this stage, and get ready to practice your cooking skills with fun new flavors!

Challenges you may experience:

As your baby gets more active, he or she might need more food to support this. Speak to your baby’s pediatrician to be sure you aren’t overfeeding, however. Your child may also be fussy at this stage as weaning progresses to more and more solid food mealtimes.

Eight Months

Weaning baby at 8 months often tends to ease up a little from the struggles of the previous stage, but of course, this may not be true for every child. However, 8-month-old infants are often ready to begin weaning if they haven’t already started, and if you’re waiting for your child to give you signs that he or she is ready to start baby led weaning, you’re likely to start noticing them around this stage. On the other hand, if your baby has been weaning for a while already, there will be some important milestones to reach at this point. Make sure to spend lots of time with your little one during feedings!

baby at 8 months

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What to expect from your baby:

Your child should be able to feed himself or herself more easily at this stage. You should notice your baby being able to pick up small pieces of food and even try to use utensils, although you will need to help a lot still, too.

weaning baby at 8 months

What you can do for your baby:

Prepare lots of yummy new foods for your child to try at this point, and make sure you aren’t offering too many new ones at once. Help your baby eat foods that are more complicated, and demonstrate how to use a sippy cup.

Challenges you may experience:

If your baby is only just beginning to wean around this stage, don’t panic if you notice gagging now and then. Your baby may gag but this doesn’t mean he or she is choking. You may also notice your child starting to refuse foods more often at this stage as tastes develop more and more.

Nine Months

At nine months, your baby’s nutritional needs are changing quite a lot and you’re on the brink of another set of important weaning milestones. Weaning baby at 9 months can be a fun time, especially because your child is likely to start developing his or her own personal food preferences by now. Of course, this can also mean it’s a messy time, and you can expect a lot of disliked foods to be thrown around in the process! Even so, this is an exciting weaning stage that’s sure to be very memorable for you. Make sure to have your camera handy for those important messy eating photos!

baby at 9 months

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What to expect from your baby:

Your baby should be enjoying three baby-sized meals every day now, supplemented by breastfeeding or formula in a bottle or sippy cup as needed. He or she should be much better at self-feeding finger foods, and may even be asking for food in his or her own way when it’s close to time to eat.

weaning baby at 9 months

What you can do for your baby:

Manage your baby’s meals to ensure that he or she is getting everything necessary to grow up healthy. Your baby needs more iron at this point, so speak to your pediatrician about the right iron-rich foods to start offering at this point.

Challenges you may experience:

If you’re trying baby led weaning, you may feel nervous giving your child the same kinds of foods everyone else in the family is enjoying at mealtime from this point onward. If you’re sticking to purees and working toward more solid food, it may be challenging to shift your baby to more lumps and solids at mealtimes around this stage.

Ten Months

At the ten-month mark, your baby is entering into what many consider the final stage of the weaning process. From ten to twelve months, your child’s nutritional needs will be changing even more, and you’ll need to keep up with his or her pediatrician about how much food to offer as the weeks progress. Weaning baby at 10 months should start to be a little bit easier than it was in the earlier months of the process, but this may be around the time you want to introduce the sippy cup. If so, take things slowly and make sure to let your child get used to holding and playing with his or her new cup before you expect any drinking to take place.

baby at 10 months weaning

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What to expect from your baby:

Your baby may be much less interested in nursing from this point onward. If you’ve been weaning for a long time, you may already be finished with breastfeeding and just working toward sippy cups by this stage. Favorite foods should be apparent by now.

weaning baby at 10 months

What you can do for your baby:

Ensure that foods are still cooked very soft and safe for your child to enjoy. Balance introducing new flavors and textures with trying more “full” meals for your child—such as pasta with sauce or scrambled eggs with veggies mixed in.

Challenges you may experience:

If you haven’t already, you may start to feel sad at this stage, as your baby is much more independent when it comes to mealtime by now. It’s okay to feel this way, but remember to spend plenty of time with your child in other situations, and remember your baby still relies on you!

Eleven Months

Weaning baby at 11 months is a time full of fun experiences and new flavors and textures. Your baby should be able to eat from a wide variety of food groups at this point, and if you’re trying baby led weaning, you may be offering a lot more textures by now, too. If your child has started teething by now, you may notice some hurdles that need to be addressed in terms of your baby’s tooth and gum pain when mealtime rolls around. Because of this, you might want to hold off on offering a lot of different textures until the teething pain has eased up. Some babies, however, have some relief from eating different types of foods.

baby at 11 months weaning

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What to expect from your baby:

Your baby is so active now, and he or she is probably interested in everything going on! Make sure to include your child at the dinner table with the rest of the family if you aren’t yet. He or she should be doing better with utensils by now, too.

weaning baby at 11 months

What you can do for your baby:

Help your baby experience fun foods and be sure you’re focusing on nutritional needs, too. Make the same food for yourself that you serve your child and have a nice bonding experience enjoying the same lunch together.

Challenges you may experience:

If you have waited until this stage to start weaning at all, you may be met with a lot of resistance since your child has gotten used to nursing or bottle feeding by now. If your baby has been weaning for a long time, you may be met with the unexpected challenge of strong dislikes for food and a lot of messy eating.

Twelve Months

Congratulations! For most babies and parents, this is considered the last step in the full weaning process. It’s often recommended that your baby should be off of breastfeeding and bottle feeding by twelve months of age since both of these can cause tooth decay and gum problems in children over a year old. However, you may still be giving your baby formula or even breast milk at this point, but offer it in a sippy cup or start moving toward a cup with a straw instead. Have fun with all the new foods your baby can enjoy at this stage, too! Your child is sure to love exploring lots of new flavor combinations and having full meals with the rest of the family from this point onward. If your baby hasn’t quite reached full weaning at this point, don’t worry. It should be just around the corner!

weaning a baby at 1 year

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What to expect from your baby:

If you’ve been weaning for a while, your baby should be completely on solids by now. He or she should also be managing a sippy cup well and may even be on a traditional cup with a straw. You should start moving your baby to cow’s milk at this point, too, but expect some resistance with this transition.

weaning baby at 12 months

What you can do for your baby:

Practice being there for your child in other situations since mealtime is much more independent now. Start asking your child for input about what to have for lunch (“Would you like green beans or carrots today? Do you like your oatmeal?”) and pay attention to how your child responds. Even without words, your baby is communicating with you about food, so pay close attention!

Challenges you may experience:

If you’ve been weaning for a while, your milk supply may be gone or mostly gone by now. This may put more of a strain on any remaining breastfeeding sessions and may set a stricter time limit for weaning to be complete.

Rewards of Successful Weaning

When you reach the end of the weaning process, congratulations! Aside from the goals you’ve achieved along the way, you should notice a few special benefits for you and your child, too. This has been a challenging experience for you and your little one, so take a moment to enjoy the rewards of the weaning process when your baby is finally on solid foods.

weaning on solid foods
  • More “you time”: While we touched on this a little bit already in mentioning more independence for you, the end of the weaning process may mean you have a little bit more free time to yourself, too. This is very important in your growth as a parent. While your child was younger, you needed to be on hand as much as possible, but now that he or she can be a little more independent, you can take some much-needed time to tend to yourself. You may even be able to get another family member involved in feeding some meals so you can enjoy the peace and quiet!
  • Less breast pain: If you’ve been dealing with breast pain while nursing your child, this will resolve quickly when he or she is weaned from breastfeeding entirely. You’ll need to speak to your doctor if you’re still having trouble after your baby has finished weaning, but in most cases, breast pain will ease up shortly after this.
  • Baby’s personality can shine: Your baby is growing up more and more every day, and at this point, you may notice his or her personality coming to light even more. This is also when your child will start to reject some foods and be excited about others, and this can be a fun time to experience together!

Conclusion

Well, do you feel like you’ve learned a lot about your baby’s weaning process? Whether you’ve been asking, “How can I learn about weaning my 5 month old baby?” or you’re thinking about weaning a little later on, we hope the information here has helped you better understand how to handle the entire process from start to finish.

Remember that every stage will include lots of unique changes for you and your little one and that weaning a baby at 12 months is much different than it is for a younger child. Remember, too, that every baby is different, and these monthly labels are just a guideline. You may notice your baby is a few weeks or even a month behind, and that’s okay. If your baby seems to be ahead of the game, that’s okay too!

No matter what, always remember to speak to your child’s pediatrician about any changes you plan to make in your baby’s diet or lifestyle. You need to be sure you have medical assistance when it comes to giving your baby the right nutrients and the proper amount of food and milk every day.

With the right game plan and plenty of information to help you along the way, baby weaning is sure to be a good experience for everyone in the family!

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