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.

How do I know if my baby is ready for solids?

Signs that your baby is ready for solids include:

  1. They can stay in a sitting position and hold their head steady.
  2. They can co-ordinate their eyes, hands and mouth so that they can look at the food, pick it up and put it in their mouth, all by themselves.
  3. They can swallow food. Babies who aren’t ready will push their food back out, so they get more round their face than they do in their mouths.

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, tips and advice on your baby's first solid foods, including foods to start with and foods to avoid.

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: 06/03/2015

Next review due: 05/03/2017