Weaning

When to start introducing solid foods


It is recommended that you start introducing your baby to solid foods when your baby is around six months old.

To begin with, how much your baby takes is less important than getting them used to the idea of eating. 

They will still be getting most of their nutrition from breastmilk or infant formula. Babies don’t need three meals a day to start with, so you can start by offering foods at a time that suits you both.

Gradually you’ll be able to increase the amount and variety of food your baby eats until they can eventually eat the same as the rest of the family, in smaller portions.

Research shows that babies need nothing but breastmilk or infant formula for the first six months of life. 

This gives a baby’s digestive system time to develop so that they cope fully with solid foods. This includes solid foods made into purées and cereals mixed with milk.

Three signs your baby is ready for their first food



Every baby is an individual, but there are three clear signs which, together, show your baby is ready for solid foods alongside breastmilk or infant formula. It is very rare for these signs to appear together before your baby is six months old.
  1. They can stay in a sitting position and hold their head steady.
  2. They can co-ordinate their eyes, hands and mouth so that they can look at the food, pick it up and put it in their mouth, all by themselves.
  3. They can swallow food. Babies who are not ready will push their food back out, so they get more round their face than they do in their mouths.
Some signs that can be mistaken for a baby being ready for solid foods:
  • chewing fists
  • waking in the night when they have previously slept through
  • wanting extra milk feeds


Getting started

  • Always stay with your baby when they are eating in case they start to choke.
  • Let your baby enjoy touching and holding the food.
  • Allow your baby to feed themselves, using their fingers, as soon as they show an interest.
  • Don’t force your baby, wait until the next time if they are not interested this time.
  • If you are using a spoon, wait for your baby to open their mouth before you offer the food. Your baby may like to hold a spoon too.
  • Start by offering just a few pieces or teaspoons of food, once a day.
  • Cool hot food and test it before giving it to your baby.
  • Don’t add salt, sugar or stock cubes to your baby’s food or cooking water.


Tips on what foods to give your baby as they grow


From 0-6 months

Breast milk or infant formula. ‘Follow-on’ formula is not suitable for babies under six months, you don’t need to introduce it after six months either.

Introducing solid foods before six months: if after checking with your health visitor or doctor, you decide to introduce solid foods before six months, you should avoid giving your baby certain foods as they may cause food allergies or make your baby ill. These include foods that contain wheat, gluten, nuts, peanuts, peanut products, seeds, liver, eggs, fish, shellfish, cows’ milk and soft or unpasteurised cheese.

From 6 months

First foods: your baby’s first foods can include mashed or soft cooked fruit and vegetables like parsnip, potato, yam, sweet potato, carrot, apple or pear, all cooled before eating. Or soft fruit like peach, melon, soft ripe banana or avocado as finger foods or mashed. Or baby rice or baby cereal mixed with your baby’s usual milk. Keep feeding them breast milk or infant formula as well but don’t give them whole cows’ milk as a drink until they are a year old.

Next foods: soft cooked meat such as chicken, mashed fish (check very carefully for any bones), pasta, noodles, toast, pieces of chapatti, lentils, rice and mashed hard boiled eggs. Also full-fat dairy products such as yoghurt, fromage frais or custard (choose products with no added sugar or less sugar). Whole cows’ milk can be used in cooking or mixed with food from six months.

Cups: introduce a cup from around six months and offer sips of water with meals. Using an open cup or a free flow cup without a valve will help your baby learn to sip and is better for your baby’s teeth

Baby led weaning

Baby led weaning is a popular option and you can find out more about it here
 
 

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