WHEN TO INTRODUCE SOLIDS

Introducing food to your little one is an exciting and messy stage in their development.

Not only is this a time for your baby to enjoy the adventure of trying interesting and new textures and tastes, but also an opportunity to help shape their ongoing relationship with food as well as providing them with a range of nutrients to support their ongoing development.

When to feed baby solids?

Weaning refers to the introduction of foods other than breast milk (or infant formula) to a baby. In the UK it is recommended that you can feeding them baby foods 6 months and up. In the first 6 months of life, infants can get all the fluids and nutrients they need from breast or infant formula milk. During this time, there is no need to introduce other foods before their digestive system is ready and their swallow reflexes develop.

Signs of readiness include:

  1. Sitting up: your baby should be able to sit up, supporting their head and maintaining a sturdy, upright position.
  2. Chewing: your baby should be able to make a chewing motion. They should be able to move food to the back of their mouth and swallow.
  3. Good coordination: your baby should be able to look at food, grab it and put it in their mouth.

Best 1st baby foods:

There really is no one ‘best food’ to start with, however simple single fruits or vegetables are a good place to begin. Good examples include: steamed apple or ripe pear, no cooked foods: mashed banana or avocado (yummy mixed together), steamed or baked root vegetables such as carrot, sweet potato, butternut squash or parsnip.

These can all either be steamed or baked and either pureed or given in chunks to gum on.

After first tastes

After introducing your little one to those first tastes, it is good to keep offering a wide variety of flavours early on, when they are more willing to try new foods. Great first foods include: soft, well cooked meat, fish, pulses (peas, beans and lentils), fruits, vegetables and cereals. This is exactly what is found in our newborn baby food.

Portion Sizes

Every baby is unique, and just as each of us has our own appetite which varies from day to day, your baby will have its own particular appetite which will change each day. Babies have a much stronger sense of self-regulation and it is a good idea to follow this as a guide. Do not force food if they are not interested, simply take it away and try another time. Similarly, if your baby is only interested in one food for a week, and refuses to eat it the next, follow their lead and simply offer it another time.

Things to think about at mealtimes

  1. Offer small amounts of food before milk feeds at meal times. Don’t be surprised if your baby initially spits the food out and appears to dislike it. New tastes and textures take a little getting used to, but babies soon learn to love a variety of flavours.
  2. Always stay with your baby during meals and never leave them alone, as they may choke. 3. Always make sure children are safely strapped into high chairs.
  3. Never force your baby to eat. Allow them to go at their own pace, to handle the food and start to feed themselves as soon as they wish.

What is ‘baby-led weaning’?

In baby-led weaning, food is not offered on a spoon. Instead, babies are encouraged to explore for themselves all the food on offer to them and to eat whatever they can get into their mouths independently.

Go with what you feel comfortable with, try a bit of both or stick with one method, there are lots of websites and books with recipe ideas for both ways. Experiment and see what you and your baby enjoy the most. Finally, be prepared for mess with both approaches!

First bites and beyond: introducing what, when

This chart provides a quick reference on what foods you can introduce when in the first year (if allergies are not a concern in your family). If there is a history of allergies in the family, we recommend that you seek professional advice.

Food

Suitable from 6 months

Suitable from 1 year

Bread

Yes

Yes

Mould-ripened soft cheeses

Yes

Yes

Citrus Fruits

Yes, but be careful with acidity

Yes

Coffee & Tea

No, contains caffeine, making it harder for a baby to absorb iron from food

 

Cow’s milk (full fat)

Not as a drink, can be used in cooking

Yes, as main a main drink

Sheep or goat‘s milk

Not as a drink, but can be used in cooking

Yes, can be used as main drink

Eggs

Yes, but must be cooked through

Yes, can start introducing soft boiled

Fizzy Drinks

No

Try to avoid until 5 if you can.

Fruit juice

Avoid if possible. If you do give your baby fruit juice, dilute it beforehand. Water & milk are the best drinks at this stage

Again, if you do offer fruit juice to your child, dilute it beforehand. High sugar content is not good for teeth

Honey

No, due to risk of infant botulism.

Yes, but honey is still a sugar, so use in moderation

Kiwi fruit/ Strawberries

Yes, check if allergies present

Yes

Low fat, low calorie foods

No. Babies need energy rich foods

No. Babies need energy rich foods (this applies to around 5 years old)

Mackerel

Yes

Yes

Prawns

 

Yes

Yes

Salmon

Yes

Yes

Salt

No

Yes, but keep to a minimum (DRV 6-12 months is 1g per day) try herbs or garlic.

Whole nuts

No

No. Don‘t give your child whole nuts until 5, because of the risk of choking (ground, chopped can be introduced after 1).

Sesame seeds

Yes. But if history of allergies or your baby has eczema or asthma, speak to your GP or health visitor before trying.

 

Peanut / other nut butters

Yes. But if history of allergies or your baby has eczema or asthma, speak to your GP or health visitor before trying.

 

Shark, swordfish or marlin

No, because they may contain traces of mercury

 

Whole grain high fibre

Foods e.g. wholegrain breads, pasta, barley etc.)

Keep high-fibre wholemeal foods to a minimum as they reduce baby’s absorption of minerals e.g. calcium & iron

Yes, but give in small amounts and introduce gradually

Whole nuts

No

No. Don‘t give your child whole nuts until 5, because of the risk of choking (ground, chopped can be introduced after 1).

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