Feeding babies 6-12 months: introducing solid foods

Research shows that babies don’t need anything other than breastmilk or infant formula for the first 6 months of life. 

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When to start introducing solid foods 

Introducing your baby to solid foods, also referred to as weaning or complementary feeding, begins when your baby is around 6 months old.  Your baby should be introduced to a varied diet, alongside their usual breast milk or first infant formula.

Before this age, a baby’s digestive system and kidneys are still developing and weaning too soon may increase the risk of infections or allergies.

Starting solid food is all about experimentation and is an enjoyable stage for you and your baby.

The signs a baby is ready for solid foods are:

  • they can sit up either independently or in a supported seat and stay in a sitting position, holding their head steady
  • they can coordinate their eyes, hands and mouth so they can look at their food, pick it up and put it in their mouth
  • they want to chew and are practicing with toys or other objects
  • they can reach out and grab things

What to feed your baby

To start with, your baby only needs a small amount of solid food, once-a-day, at a time that suits you both.

Babies do not need salt or sugar added to their food or cooking water.  Babies should not eat salty foods as it isn’t good for their kidneys. Sugar can cause tooth decay.

You can find information on what to feed, smooth or lumpy, baby led weaning, drinks and recipes from these websites Start4Life, NHS your baby’s first solid foods, First Steps Nutrition.

Safe feeding (gagging, choking, food allergies, food and drinks to avoid, preparing food safely, storing and heating food)

Once solids are established:

  • children need healthy eating habits to thrive
  • a healthy breakfast will set your child up for the day
  • eat with your child and encourage them to try different foods
  • aim for 5 portions of different fruits and vegetables a day
  • eat healthy snacks 2 times a day
  • encourage your child to drink plenty of water throughout the day

 

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