Weaning your baby

Babies are usually ready to start taking solids when they are about six months old. At this age, they can sit up and no longer have the reflex to push food out of their mouths. Weaning means you introduce non-milk foods to your baby, giving them lumpier textures and finger foods.

Breastfeeding and weaning

You can continue breastfeeding while introducing your baby to solid foods. As your baby gets used to home-cooked food, they may want to breastfeed less often. They might only want to breastfeed in the morning and at bedtime.

Weaning a baby at six months old

There are health advantages for your baby if you delay giving them solid foods until they are six months old:

  • fewer stomach and chest infections
  • more mature digestive system and kidneys
  • reduced risk of allergies like asthma and eczema

Knowing when your baby is ready for solid foods

Your baby will show they are ready for weaning when:

  • they sit up
  • their tongue thrust reflex is less noticeable
  • they can chew
  • they can pick up food and put it in their mouth

Preparing to wean a baby

To wean your baby:

  • make sure everything you use for feeding them is clean
  • start by offering small amounts, one or two teaspoons of food a day
  • mash or use a blender or food processor to prepare food and mix with expressed breast milk or boiled, cool water
  • feed them when they are normally relaxed
  • heat food thoroughly, allow it to cool and test it before giving it to them
  • feed at your baby's pace and allow them to get used to different tastes and consistencies
  • don’t reuse uneaten food
  • don’t add food to your baby’s bottle as this can damage teeth and cause choking

Foods to start weaning a baby

Suitable first foods include:

  • baby rice
  • mashed carrots, potatoes or broccoli
  • mashed fruit such as bananas, stewed apples or pears
  • beef, lamb or chicken

Don’t add sugar or salt to your baby's food.

When your baby is at least six months old, you can introduce:

  • bread, pasta and breakfast cereals containing gluten
  • well cooked eggs
  • pasteurised cheese
  • yoghurt

Finger foods at nine months old

When your baby is nine months old, you can give them various foods in small chunks or as finger foods. Encourage your baby to chew and feed themselves, even if they have no teeth, by giving them:

  • toast
  • bread crusts
  • pitta bread
  • rice cakes
  • slices of soft fruit like bananas, pears, peaches or melons
  • cooked vegetable pieces like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots or courgette
  • cubes of cheese
  • cooked pasta shapes

Feed your baby during family meals so they can enjoy eating with others and you can learn their likes and dislikes. Stay with your baby when they are eating to make sure they don’t choke.

Giving more solids

You can give your baby most home-cooked food as long as it is mashed or pureed and doesn’t have any added salt or sugar. It is important to offer different solid foods so your baby gets the vitamins and minerals they need.

These include:

  • starchy foods with every meal, for example potatoes, yams, rice, bread, plantains or unsweetened breakfast cereals
  • fruit and vegetables at two or more meals every day
  • one or two servings a day of soft cooked meat, fish, well cooked egg, tofu, beans or lentils

Foods to avoid when weaning your baby

It is a good idea to introduce your baby to various tastes at an early age. However, there are certain foods you shouldn’t give them:

  • salty foods, because your baby’s kidneys cannot cope with salt
  • honey, because it is sugar and shouldn’t be given to babies under one year old
  • peanuts
  • unpasteurised cheese
  • raw eggs
  • sugary foods

Weaning before your baby is six months old

Weaning before your baby is six months old is not recommended. You should never wean your baby before they are four months old. If you wean your baby before six months, don’t give them food that could cause an allergic reaction or contain harmful bacteria. Avoid giving them:

  • wheat-based foods containing gluten, such as pasta, bread, breakfast cereals and rusks
  • nuts and seeds, including ground nuts
  • eggs
  • fish and shellfish
  • soft and unpasteurised cheeses

Drinks and weaning

Most breastfed babies enjoy drinking from a feeding cup. You can give your baby this cup when they start getting solid foods.

They can drink:

  • expressed breast milk
  • infant formula
  • boiled, cool water

They can take diluted pure fruit juice occasionally, with one part juice to 10 parts water.

Drinking cow’s milk

Your child should not drink cow’s milk until they are at least one year old.

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