Once your baby is eating solids it's important to give them as many different healthy foods as you can.
This way they're more likely to keep eating them as they grow up. It's a great habit to get into, and one that will hopefully help avoid fussy eating and make your life a little easier as your baby gets older.
It's best not to give them foods or drinks with added sugar, or salty or fatty food either, as this will make them more likely to want them as they get older.
- take your time – allow plenty of time for eating, especially at first. Rushing or forcing your baby could lead to problems. Go at your baby's pace and stop when they show you they've had enough.
- offer different foods – babies like to choose for themselves and sometimes take their time getting used to different foods. Offer new foods often and your baby will gradually get used to them.
- it's messy – it can get messy, but this is an important part of your baby's development. You may want to cover the floor with newspaper or a protective mat to make clearing up easier.
- show them how you eat – babies copy their parents and other children, so you can help them by showing them that you eat healthier foods. Babies enjoy watching you eat, and learn from being a part of family mealtimes. Help them join in by talking to them and giving them food when you or the rest of the family are eating. Having mealtimes around the same time every day can make it easier for your baby to know when it's food time.
- finger foods – let your baby feed themselves with their fingers. This way they can show you how much they want to eat, and it gets them familiar with different types of food. It also makes eating more enjoyable. As a guide, the best finger foods are foods that can be cut up into pieces big enough for your baby to hold in their fist and stick out of the top of it. Pieces about the size of your own finger work well.
- how much – most babies know when they are full up, so don't make them finish a portion when they don't want to. Smaller, more frequent meals and healthier snacks will suit them better when they are little. Don't worry if your baby hasn't eaten much in a meal or a day. What they eat over a week is more important.
- homemade is best – homemade food is made from simple ingredients with no added sugar or salt. Any unused food can be kept in the fridge or frozen, then all you have to do is reheat the amount you need. This also helps your baby get used to family foods and saves money.
- jar or packet food – baby food in jars or packets can be handy, but portion sizes are often too big and much of it has the same texture. This may make it harder for your baby to accept more varied textures and move on to family foods as they get older. Jars are useful when you don't have much time or you're out with your baby.
- sit up straight – make sure your baby is sitting up straight so they are able to explore foods better and are less likely to choke.
How much milk?
As your baby eats more solid food they may want less milk at each feed, or even drop a milk feed altogether. Babies should have breast milk (or infant formula) for at least the first year, and can carry on with breast milk for as long as you both want.
From 12 months, full-fat cows' milk is fine as your baby's main drink. Infant formula, follow-on formula or growing-up milk is not needed once your baby is 12 months old.
See more about drinks and cups for babies.