First foods for your baby
Babies and children should be encouraged to eat healthily from the very start. At around 6 months you should start to introduce your baby to solid foods. This is often referred to as weaning.
From 0-6 months it is recommended babies are exclusively breastfed. They can get everything theyneed from breast milk or formula milk. At around 6 months babies then need solid foods in addition to their usual breast milk or formula milk feeds. This helps to meet their large energy requirements as they grow and develop.
Start to introduce your baby to solid foods by around 6 months old but not before 4 months. This is for babies who are breastfed or on formula milk. Advice for premature babies may differ, please speak to your Midwife, Health Visitor or GP.
Some signs that your baby is ready for their first solid foods:
1. They can stay in a sitting position and hold their head steady.
2. They have eye, hand and mouth co-ordination so they can look at the food, pick it up and put it in their mouth on their own.
3. They can swallow food, rather than pushing food back out and getting most of it on their face rather than in their mouth.
Learn more signs to look out for.
The Start4Life website has lots of useful information. They offer guidance on choosing your baby’s first foods. This page also gives ideas for finger foods which introduce your baby to different textures and types of foods.
It is important to introduce your baby to a healthy diet from the start including:
- Vegetables and fruit,
- Starchy foods (bread, rice, potatoes and pasta),
- Protein foods (meat, fish, eggs and beans or pulses)
- Dairy foods (plain full fat yoghurt).
- Foods should have no added sugar and no added salt.
There are some foods which you should avoid giving to babies.
It will take time to introduce your baby to different foods. When you first introduce solid foods you are just getting your baby used to eating. The amount they eat is less important as they will still be getting most of what they need from breast milk or formula milk. Slowly increase the amount and variety of solid foods they are having. Until by 10-12 months your baby can be offered 3 meals a day eating the same as the rest of the family in smaller amounts.
Some helpful tips:
- Be patient and relaxed at mealtimes.
- Be prepared – introducing solid foods will be messy!
- Don’t worry if your baby’s appetite varies day to day this is normal.
- Take away any distractions at mealtimes (e.g. TV, mobile phones or toys)
- Keep trying your baby with new foods. Refusing food is common.
- Babies learn to like foods they are given regularly. Keep offering foods even if your baby is not sure at first, it can take several attempts before they accept it.
- Introduce lots of different foods from 6 months so they get used to different flavours and textures.
- Be a good role model by eating well yourself.
- Eating together as a family will help to teach your baby good habits.
From 6 months to 5 years it is recommended that your baby takes a vitamin supplement.
Remember to speak to your Midwife, Health Visitor or GP if you need any advice. You can also get more information on complementary feeding from Start4Life, NHS Choices, British Nutrition Foundation.