Will Breastfeeding Change When I Introduce Solids?
For the first six months of your baby’s life breastfeeding is the recommended source of nutrition. It will give your baby every nutrient it requires to grow and develop well.
At around twenty-six weeks, you will most likely be at the beginning stages of weaning your baby on to solid foods. This is a gradual process whereby first tastes are explored along with finger foods as your baby learns to enjoy and tolerate food in solid form.
It is a big change from milk. It can take some infants a lot longer than others to show any real interest in solid food so do not worry if your milk monster doesn’t seem all that interested in the food you are offering them.
Continue to breastfeed on demand and offer solid food regularly and they will soon adapt to a mixture of both. Inviting them to the table at meal times is a great way to introduce the sentiment and ritual around eating solid food.
Many mums feel great anxiety at this time as they become concerned about the impact that solid food may have on their breastfeeding journey. By the six month mark, it probably feels like a walk in the park now. It is something you and baby have learnt to perfect together and it’s just... easy. The idea of something shaking that up is a little scary, even if it is something that is nutritionally required.
When solids are introduced think of it as complimenting breastfeeding rather than it replacing it. Your baby will still get the majority of their calories from your breast milk, particularly in those first few months when weaning can be a slow (and messy) process where very little food may actually enter their mouth. They’ll enjoy decorating their face and your furniture with butternut squash though – they just love that one.
When solid food has been introduced you should continue as normal with your regular breastfeeding pattern. The skills your baby are learning now, with solid food, are skills that will benefit them in the future. Eventually, solid food will replace breastmilk and this is where their calories and nutrition will come from. That time is not now so try not to worry about this being an interruption to your breastfeeding journey – it’s just an add-on.
Your breastmilk will continue to provide your baby with protective antibodies while quenching their hunger and thirst for a long time yet.
Another thing to remember is that breastfeeding is so much more than milk. The physical connection and comfort that breastfeeding provides is a really wonderful thing. At around six months when solids have been introduced you may also notice the beginning of your baby’s experience with teething. During this time your baby may actually want to feed more often and for longer periods of time to comfort themselves from the pain and to feel secure during this time.
If you are concerned that your baby may drop feeds when solids are introduced you might consider breastfeeding before solid food is offered at meal times. This is a good way to ensure that your baby is still feeding enough and at the same time maintaining your milk supply.
The most important thing to remember is that your baby will always lead the way. Continue to offer breastfeeding on demand and allow them to breastfeed when they want and need it. This is the best way to maintain a positive breastfeeding experience and to your supply at the same time. Remember that throughout your breastfeeding journey milk will always be supply and demand – continue to offer it and the milk will be delivered.
You’ve got this!