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Introducing solid foods

All your baby needs for the first six months of their life is breast milk or first infant formula.  After this, solid foods can be introduced, but the most important food is still breast milk or first infant formula as these milks provide your baby with all the nutrients they need. 

It’s best to wait until your baby is at least six months old before introducing solid foods. This allows their gut to mature so they can process solids. They’ll also be able to feed themselves more easily so there will be less mess. 

Follow-on or growing-up milks aren’t needed by your baby at any stage in their development. 

Your baby will usually be ready to start taking solid food at around six months. Your baby will be ready to enjoy solid food if they are able to:

  • Sit unsupported and hold their head steady
  • Reach and pick up food themselves and put it in their mouth
  • Swallow food; if they’re not ready they’ll push the food out with their tongue.

The following are NOT signs that your baby is ready to start solid foods: Seeming hungry, waking at night when they normally sleep through, weight gain slowing down, watching you eat, other babies the same age starting to eat solids.

  • Always stay with your baby while eating in case they begin to choke
  • Offer a variety of finger foods for them to hold and touch
  • Allow your baby to feed themselves
  • Don’t force them to eat; just try again later
  • Don’t add salt, sugar, or stock cubes to the food or cooking water
  • Do not give honey to children under one year
  • Whole cow’s milk can be used in cooking from six months
  • Start by offering food once a day
  • If offering hot food, make sure it’s cool enough to avoid burns.

Build up to three meals a day when your baby is around eight to nine months.

By 12 months your baby will be eating three meals a day and can have whole cow’s milk and water to drink. 

Breast milk can continue for as long as you and your baby want it, even after 12 months. Infant formula is no longer needed. 

Get support as early as possible to get off to a good start. Talk to a member of your health visiting team for further advice and support.

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