You can start introducing solid foods to your baby’s diet from around six months old, in addition to their usual breast or formula milk. In the beginning, the most important thing is for your baby to learn about and get used to different foods and textures - it is not about how much they actually eat. Continuing their usual milk will mean your baby will still get all the nutrients they need, allowing you to let them explore new tastes and textures worry free.

Let your baby touch and hold the food, and if they show interest, let them try and feed themselves. This is a new learning experience for them, let them explore and enjoy their new foods – try not to worry about the mess!

Although solid foods can be introduced from six months onwards, different babies will be ready to start weaning at different times. To help you know if your baby is ready, look out for some of these common signs:

  • Always stay with your baby when they are eating solid foods
  • Encourage your baby to self-feed using their fingers or a spoon - touching, holding and playing with their food will make them more interested in trying new things, even if most of it does end up on the floor!
  • Don’t force your baby to eat or finish a meal – remember your baby’s stomach is very tiny so trust them to know when they have had enough
  • Begin by offering just a few pieces or teaspoons of food, once a day
  • Cool hot food, and test the temperature before giving it to your baby
  • Thicker textures and lumps should be increasingly incorporated into meals, building up to mashed or chopped family foods by twelve months
  • Try to feed your baby when they are not too hungry or tired
  • Eat as a family if possible, or have at least one person eating at the same time – baby’s copy what they see, so seeing others eating will encourage them to follow
  • Don’t add salt, sugar or stock cubes to your baby’s food or cooking water as they do not need additional salt or sugar in their diet

Finally, try and relax at mealtimes – keeping you and your baby relaxed will increase the likelihood of them trying new foods. It is normal for babies to only eat one meal a day well; the others may not be as successful but as long as your baby’s weight appears healthy there is no need to worry. The next meal time might be better!

Weaning is exciting new experience for you and your baby. There are lots of different foods to taste and explore, and remember, if it ends up on the floor, it’s not a reflection on your cooking skills! When introducing solids, your baby’s usual milk should be continued for as long as possible, slowly decreasing the volume of feeds a day, relative to the amount and variation of food eaten.

From 6 months

Try giving one new food a day, giving your baby a variety of different tastes and textures.

Good first foods include:

  • Baby rice or baby cereal mixed with your baby’s usual milk
  • Mashed or soft cooked fruit and vegetables like parsnip, potato, sweet potato, carrot, apple or pear – make sure they are cool before eating
  • Soft fruits like peach, melon, soft ripe banana or avocado as finger foods or mashed

Once the initial foods are accepted increase the number of meals in a day and begin to add soft, non-dairy protein such as chicken, fish (check carefully for bones!) and mashed hard-boiled egg, as well as a starchy carbohydrate like pasta or toast. Olive oil can be used in recipes to increase your baby’s fat and calorie intake if needed – stick to one or two teaspoons per day.

Drinks – from 6 months old you should introduce a toddler cup rather than a bottle. During meal times have a cup of water and encourage your baby to take sips.

From 8 – 9 months

Around 8 - 12 months of age, your baby will gradually start to move towards eating three, varied meals a day. These should include a range of all food groups and be served as a mixture of textures; soft finger foods and mashed or chopped foods.

From 12 months

Your baby will now be eating three meals a day, as well as eating healthy snacks like fruit, vegetable sticks, toast and rice cakes. Each day, you can give your baby:

  • Three or four servings of starchy food such as potatoes, bread and rice
  • Three or four servings of fruit and vegetables
  • Two servings of meat, fish, eggs and beans or pulses

Before introducing solids, or if you have any concerns about feeding your baby, or your baby’s health, please discuss with your health visitor or GP.

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