When should I start introducing solid food?
Babies can get all the nutrients they need from breast milk or infant formula for the first 6 months.
After that their digestive system will be ready to cope with solid food, and they’ll be physically able to put food in their mouths and swallow properly. Here are the stages your little one will move through along the way:
- 0-6 months: Breastmilk or an appropriate infant formula is all that baby needs right now.
- Around 6 months: You’re likely to start seeing the three signs that baby is ready to be introduced to solids (see below).
- 6-7 months: This period is all about introducing baby to tastes, texture and food confidence.
- 7-9 months: Baby will be able to eat three soft or mashed food three times a day, alonside breastmilk or formula.
- 10-12 months: Baby will be enjoying meals that are chopped with bigger, soft lumps. They’ll become increasingly dextrous and able to manouver small pieces of food into their mouth.
- 12+ months: Babies should be eating a wide range of foods at meals, show increasing independence in eating, and use a cup for any drinks other than breastmilk. Breastmilk still provides energy, nutrients and protection from infection to babies for as long as they are breastfed. Generally, however, by 1 year of age, breastmilk or infant formula will provide less energy and nutrients than the food your baby eats.
Source – Eating Well: the first year, by First Steps Nutrition Trust (PDF)
3 signs your baby is ready for weaning
- They can stay in a sitting position and hold their head steady.
- They can co-ordinate their eyes, hands and mouth to look at food, pick it up and put it in their mouth by themselves.
- They can swallow food: babies who aren’t ready will push it out with their tongue, meaning more ends up around their face than in their mouths!
Some baby behaviours – chewing fists or wanting extra milk feeds – can look like baby is ready for solids, but can be misleading. Look for the three tell-tale signs instead.
Remember that it’s rare to see all three signs together earlier than 6 months of age. All babies develop differently, so you might not start weaning bang on 6 months, though it’s worth talking to your midwife, GP or health visitor if you’re thinking about starting earlier.
Good to know: Babies don’t need teeth to start weaning. Once they’re able to chew, their gums will be hard enough to mash soft or ripe foods. They also may be more interested initially in squeezing, licking and sucking food to find out ‘how it works’!