When should I start giving my baby solids (weaning)?

You should start giving your baby solid foods, often called "weaning", when they are around six months old. Health experts agree that this is the best age. Before this, your baby's digestive system is not developed enough to cope with solid foods.

If you're breastfeeding, feeding only breast milk up to around six months will give your baby extra protection against infection. Breastfeeding beyond six months alongside solid foods will continue to protect your baby for as long as you carry on.

If you're bottle feeding, you should give your baby infant formula until around six months and continue it afterwards along with solid foods.

If your baby seems hungrier at any time before six months, give them extra milk feeds.

Babies born early (prematurely) may be ready for solids at different times. Ask your health visitor for advice about what's best for your baby.

Baby food

Your baby's first solid foods should be smooth, simple foods they can easily digest, such as vegetables, fruit or rice. You could try:

  • mashed or puréed cooked parsnip, potato, yam, sweet potato, apple or pear
  • mashed or puréed rice or baby rice (mix the rice with a bit of your baby's usual milk)
  • pieces of soft fruit or vegetables that are small enough for your baby to pick up

It can be useful to have a few jars, tins or packets of ready-prepared baby food in the cupboard, but it's not recommended that you use them all the time.

Read more information about your baby's first solid foods.

Getting started with weaning

The following tips can help with weaning:

  • start by offering just a few pieces or teaspoons of food a day – let your baby enjoy touching and holding the food
  • go at your baby's pace – don't be in a rush as feeding can take a lot of time
  • your baby should be sitting up straight and facing forward – this will make it easier for them to explore foods and they'll be less likely to choke
  • if the food is hot, allow it to cool – stir it and test the temperature before giving it to your baby
  • have meals at the same time every day – that way your baby will know what to expect and will be more likely to eat their meals
  • never leave your baby alone when they're eating as they could choke

For more tips and advice on weaning, read the Start4Life leaflet on giving your baby a better start.

Foods to avoid

There are some foods that you should not give your baby until they're much older, such as:

  • salt
  • sugar
  • honey
  • raw shellfish
  • whole nuts  

Read the answers to more questions about children's health.

Further information:

Introducing other foods

Linda and Heidi have fed their babies breast milk for six months. Now their babies are ready to try their first solid food. See how they do it in this video by Best Beginnings.

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Page last reviewed: 07/03/2013

Next review due: 06/03/2015