It is recommended that weaning starts at around 6 months because your baby’s nutrient needs are changing and cannot be met from milk alone.
The amount of solid food babies will consume depends on how hungry they are, so try to react to your baby's appetite. Progress from offering solid food once a day, to 2, and then 3 times a day. Try to include different foods at each mealtime for extra variety.
Include foods from each of the following food groups:
- Starchy carbohydrate – such as potatoes, yams, rice and bread
- Protein – meat, fish, eggs, tofu and pulses such as beans and lentils
- Fruit and vegetables
Once your baby has grown used to a variety of foods, solids can replace more of the milk feeds, but continue to offer a milk feed with each meal, aiming for a total of around 600ml per day.
After 6 months, pasteurised whole cow’s milk can be used, but only for mixing solid foods – you should continue with breast or formula milk for feeds in the first year. In addition, diluted fruit juice (one part juice to five parts water) or plain water can be introduced as a drink with meals.
Foods to try:
- Wheat-based foods such as breads, pasta and cereals
- Purees using cooked chicken or lentils
- A wider variety of fruits and vegetables, including citrus fruits
- Natural yoghurt and cottage cheese
- Eggs (well cooked)
Once your baby can hold and handle things, it’s good to let them practice chewing and feeding themselves. It’s best to avoid sweet biscuits and rusks so that your baby doesn’t get into the habit of expecting sweet snacks.
Snack ideas to try:
- Toast, pitta or chapatti fingers, bread sticks and rice cakes. Choose low-salt or salt-free versions whenever possible
- Pieces of chopped fruit or vegetable sticks
- Small cubes of cheese
From around 9 months
By now your baby should be learning to fit in with the family by eating three minced or chopped meals a day, as well as their usual milk. Each day, you can offer your baby:
- 3-4 servings of starchy food, such as potato, bread and rice
- 3-4 servings of fruit and vegetables
- 2 servings of meat, fish, eggs, lentils and other pulses such as beans
- Fruit and vegetable sticks as snacks in between meals
If your baby has started crawling and is on the move, you will need to increase the amount of food you give them. Babies have high energy needs but small stomachs, so they need to eat little and often, which means small meals and regular snacks in between.