When your baby reaches six months, you know it’s time to get ready to wipe baby food from the walls – they’re finally ready for solid foods.
Until they’re around six months old, babies get all the nutrients they need from breastmilk or infant formula, and these milks continue to be important for babies’ growth and development, so keep offering them alongside solid foods. If you start your baby on solid foods too early, it means they may not take as much breastmilk or formula milk, even through it will give them more of the energy and nutrients they need to grow and develop.
As you start weaning, you can start mixing a little cow’s milk with your baby’s food, but don’t offer it as a drink on its own until your baby’s a year old. Until your baby is two, go for full fat (whole) milk.
Every baby’s different, so weaning can be a process of trial and error. Some babies are happy to start with finger foods they can feed to themselves, while others need longer to get used to the new textures so prefer to try smooth or blended foods offered to them on a spoon. The important thing is to try not to worry about how much (or how little!) your baby eats at first. There’ll be days when they eat a lot, and other days when they eat less, and they may reject some foods altogether. Don’t give up, just try again another day – it can take several attempts before your baby accepts a new food or texture.
Keep foods simple and offer them in small quantities. If you think your baby may be allergic to a particular food, talk to your public health nurse (health visitor) or GP.
When you first start weaning your baby, try and choose a moment when they’re not too tired or hungry and when you’re not in a rush. If you’re feeding them with a spoon, wait for them to open their mouth before you offer the food.
There are a whole range of different finger foods that your baby can easily hold in their hand. For example, why not try:
- cooked vegetable sticks (carrots, broccoli, green beans, courgette)
- ripe, soft fruits like banana, melon or pear
- toast fingers, cooked pasta, slices of chapatti
Make sure you stay close to your baby when they’re eating, incase they start to choke.
You can progress to cooked meat like chicken, mashed fish (check for bones!), mashed eggs, dhal, and introduce full fat dairy foods like yoghurt, custard or rice pudding. Make sure you’re choosing foods with little or no added sugar.
Find out more about Healthy Start vitamins and healthy eating vouchers.
Foods to avoid when you’re weaning
- sugar and sweet foods like chocolate, sweets, cakes and biscuits
- sweet drinks like squash, milkshakes and fruit juice
- salt, and salty foods like cheese, bacon, sausages, crisps and meals made with stock cubes – babies’ kidneys can’t cope with very much salt
- honey – it contains bacteria which can make babies unwell
Sip, sip, hooray!
Introduce a cup for your baby to drink from as you start weaning, offering them sips of water with their meals. Use an open cup or a free-flow beaker, which help your baby learn how to sip.
- Start 4 Life- Weaning hub
- Leaflet: Feeding your baby from birth to five
- Start 4 Life – baby meal time tips
- Leaflet: Portion sizes for children aged between one and five years old
Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust run’s a confidential secure text messaging service for parents of children aged 0-19 years called Chat Health. The service operates Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm, excluding bank holidays. All texts will be responded to by a public health nurse (health visitor/school nurse) within 24 hours. Outside of the service working hours, you’ll receive a message back to inform you that your text will be responded to once the line reopens.
Should you require urgent health advice in the meantime, please contact your GP, visit an NHS walk-in centre or call NHS 111. For emergencies, dial 999 or visit A&E.
Leicester City: text 07520 615381
Leicestershire & Rutland: text 07520 615382