For the first 6 months of their lives, babies only need breast milk or first infant formula. When your baby is 6 months or older and is showing the signs of being ready to try family foods, you can try introducing healthy foods alongside their milk such as:
• Mashed or soft cooked sticks of fruit and vegetables like parsnip, potato, sweet potato, carrot, apple or pear
• Soft fruits like peach, melon, banana or avocado make good first finger foods
• Baby rice mixed with your baby’s usual milk.
Once your baby is getting confident eating these foods, they can move on to:
• Soft cooked meat such as chicken and mashed fish (check very carefully for any bones)
• Pasta, noodles, toast, pieces of chapati, lentils and rice
• Mashed hard boiled eggs
• Full fat dairy products such as yoghurt, fromage frais, or custard (choose products with no added sugar or less sugar).
Introduce drinking from a cup from around 6 months and offer sips of water with meals. Using an open cup or a free-flow cup (without a no spill valve) will help your baby learn to sip and is better for your baby’s teeth.
Remember although full fat cow, goat or sheep milk can be introduced into your child's diet from 6 months, it should not be offered as a main drink until they are 1 year old.
Foods to avoid:
- Don’t add salt to your baby’s food – it can damage their kidneys
- Don’t add sugar to your baby’s food as this can increase their risk of tooth decay and contribute to obesity in later life
- Honey should not be given to babies until they are a year old as it can put a toxin in their tummy leading to a serious illness called botulism
- Avoid giving babies shellfish as this can increase the risk of food poisoning.
Bought Baby Foods
Bought baby foods are more expensive, often have added sugar or salt, and mainly contain sweet flavours. Bought baby food can be very useful out and about or in emergencies, but homemade foods are better for your baby for everyday meals.
Top tips for introducing your baby to solids:
1. There is no need to offer solid food until your baby is 6 months old
2. To start with offering solid food is for your baby to try lots of tastes and textures, not about how much they eat
3. Breastmilk or infant formula is an important part of a babies diet throughout the first year
4. However you introduce solid foods to your baby remember the importance of responsive feeding. What matters is feeding slowly and looking whether they want more.
For more information watch this video from Dr Amy Brown on introducing your baby to solids:
What if my baby doesn’t eat the foods I am giving them?
To begin with, babies are just having tastes of food so they can learn about:
- Chewing and swallowing.
Keep feeding your baby breast milk or formula alongside food as this will still be their main source of nutrition. At about 10 months, babies start to eat more and drink less milk. Follow your baby’s lead – if they turn away and are not interested in food, try again later. Sometimes, letting your baby be in control helps them to get started. Let them play with their food and have their own spoon so they can explore eating in their own time.
This video tutorial from essential parent helps you to think about encouraging your baby to eat well: *CLICK HERE TO WATCH*
- Always stay with your baby when giving them solid food
- Foods such as grapes or cherry tomatoes are very easy for babies to choke on as they can block your baby's airway. Always cut them into small pieces
- Cool foods and test the temperature yourself before offering them to your baby
- Wash bowls, cups and plates well in warm soapy water
- Sterilize bottles used for forumla or breast milk
- Start brushing your baby’s teeth as soon as their first tooth comes through.
Eating as a Family
Eating the same foods together makes preparation easier, is less expensive and saves time. Eating together also helps social skills and has been shown to reduce obesity.
This great recipe book from First Steps Nutrition can help you get started: *Click here*
What is Healthy Start?
Healthy Start is a national scheme to improve health. You could qualify if you're on low income or benefits and are at least 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under the age of four. You also qualify if you're pregnant and under 18.
Your midwife, health visitor or other health professional can support you to sign up. You will be sent vouchers for cow’s milk, fresh/frozen fruit and vegetables and first infant formula milk. These can be used in local shops or supermarkets. You will also receive vouchers to exchange in pharmacies for:
- Women’s vitamins (contain Vitamin C, D and Folic Acid) - available from week 10 of pregnancy up to baby’s first birthday
- Children’s Vitamins (contain Vitamin A, C and D) – from ages 6 months to 4 years
For families who are not eligible for the scheme, all Norfolk Lloyds Pharmacies sell Healthy Start vitamins at a cheaper price than branded vitamins.
For more information on the scheme and a list of shops accepting vouchers *Click Here*
Who Can Help?
You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.