Introducing your baby to solid foods – sometimes called weaning or complementary feeding – should start when your baby is around 6 months old.
How much your baby eats is less important to begin with than getting them used to the idea of eating. They will still be getting most of their nutrients from breast milk or first infant formula.
Begin by offering food at a time that suits you both. You'll be able to gradually increase the amount and variety of food your baby eats until they can eat small portions of the same food as the rest of the family.
When to start weaning your baby
Babies get most of the nutrients they need from breast milk or first infant formula until they are around 6 months old.
If you are breastfeeding, having breast milk alone up to the age of around 6 months will help protect your baby against illness and infections. Breast milk will carry on protecting them for as long as you carry on feeding.
Waiting until your baby is ready for solid food means they'll quickly be able to feed themselves and will be able to swallow more easily.
You may wonder if your baby is ready for solids foods if they:
chew their fists
wake in the night even though they were sleeping through before
want extra milk feeds
But these are all normal behaviours for babies and not necessarily a sign that they are hungry or ready to start solid food.
Starting solid food won't make your baby any more likely to sleep through the night. Extra milk feeds Variety in your baby's diet is really important, but there's a chance they may be allergic to certain foods.
It's important to introduce these foods one at a time – and not before 6 months:
foods that contain gluten, including wheat, barley or rye
foods containing nuts or seeds (children under 5 shouldn't have whole nuts because of the risk of choking)
fish and shellfish
There's no evidence that waiting until your child is older will stop them developing a food allergy.
Once your baby is ready for solids, just give them these foods in very small amounts and watch carefully for any symptoms of an allergic reaction.
If your baby already has a known allergy – such as a diagnosed food allergy or eczema, or you have a family history of food allergies, eczema, asthma or hay fever – you may need to be particularly careful when introducing peanuts and peanut products. Talk to your GP or health visitor first. Remember, peanuts, like all nuts, should be crushed or ground.
At Wriggles and Giggles Sessions we repeat activities that will help with all stages of development from birth to 5 years We also help with ideas to take home and parenting tips and techniques. To join a group in Yarm, Darlington, Hartburn, Ingleby Barwick, Newton Aycliffe send us an email email@example.com
How to start solid foods
Try not to worry about how much your baby eats at first. There will be some days when your baby eats more and others when they eat less, and they may reject some foods completely.
Don't be put off. All babies are different, and some learn to accept new foods and textures more quickly than others.
To get your baby off to a good start with solid foods:
Let them enjoy touching and holding the food
Allow your baby to feed themselves, using their fingers, as soon as they show an interest
It may take time for your baby to accept a new food – keep trying, as it may take several attempts
Don't force your baby to eat – wait until the next feed if they're not interested this time
If you're 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
Allow your baby to go at their own speed
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 sugar or salt (including stock cubes) to your baby's food or cooking water – see what other foods to avoid giving your baby
Always stay with your baby when they are eating in case they start to choke
We have sensory bags available to purchase on our website at the link below. Each bag also includes unlimited access to our interactive online videos for early years