Weaning your Pre-Term Baby

Weaning your Pre-Term Baby

Weaning can be exciting part of your parenting journey, but it can also be overwhelming – especially with a baby who was born preterm.

This guest blog has been written by Savannah Senior (IBCLC, MSc, BSc, HCPC, HPCSA, MRCSLT) International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Paediatric Feeding Specialist Speech and Language Therapist and founder of Learn to Feed

The World Health Organisation recommends starting solids at around 6 months of age for a term baby, but as with most things for preterm babies, the guidance is less clear. As a Lactation Consultant and Feeding Therapist, I have worked with many preterm babies and am here to help clear things up!

 First things first, let’s talk terminology:

What is considered preterm? Babies born before 37 weeks gestational age are considered preterm, this means a baby born as 36+6 (36 weeks and 6 days) is preterm.

What is corrected age? Corrected age is the age your baby would be if they were born on their due date. For example, if your baby was due on the 14th June 2023 (40 weeks) but they were born on the 5th April 2023 (30 weeks), this means they are 10 weeks preterm. On the 2nd August 2023 your baby’s actual age would be 17 weeks BUT their corrected age would only be 7 weeks. Still with me?

When to use actual vs corrected age? Remember before 40 weeks, your baby would still be growing as if they were in your womb. This means we only expect them to start behaving like a term baby, at term (40 weeks!) This is why the corrected age should be used for ALL developmental milestones until your baby is two years old. By this time their development would have caught up with their peer group.

 Now, feeding has milestones just like all other developmental areas, such as walking and talking. This means that you should use your baby’s corrected age to determine their feeding milestones. So to work out when to wean your baby (more or less), use your baby’s corrected age! Bliss have looked at the latest research and helped to come up with some guidance on when to wean your preterm baby:

 1. Every baby is different and will be ready for weaning in their own time. Five months corrected age is the earliest that your baby may start showing readiness for weaning

2. Most babies are ready for weaning by six months corrected age

3. Watch out for your baby’s weaning readiness cues, as these are the best way to know that your baby is ready. These include:

- Sitting upright with minimal support

- Holding their head up while sitting

- Learning about objects by touching them with their hands and mouth

- Reaching and grasping foods and putting them into their mouth

- Putting everything (and I mean everything) into their mouth to bite and chew

4. Your baby can have the same foods as a term baby from when they are showing the above weaning readiness cues. You can offer puree or finger foods.

For some parents, weaning your preterm baby can be overwhelming. If this is the case, reach out for help – you don’t need to do this alone. We’ve got you mama!

 Savannah x

Founder of Learn to Feed


For more helpful tips and advice on all things feeding, please see Savannah’s website www.learntofeed.com.


About our Guest Blogger 

Hi, I’m Savannah, an International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant and Feeding Therapist. My passion for feeding started when working on a neonatal unit in South Africa and seeing the pure joy on a mum’s face when her baby, who was having feeding difficulties, was finally able to latch. My passion has grown into my company where I help parents with breastfeeding, bottle feeding through to weaning and finally fussy eating. I love my job and helping parents navigate the highs and lows of feeding – because really, what is life without food?! I look forward to hearing from you and helping you on your feeding journey.

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