What to start with
To start with, your baby only needs a small amount of solid food, once a day, at a time that suits you both.
You can start weaning with single vegetables and fruits – try blended, mashed, or soft cooked sticks of parsnip, broccoli, potato, yam, sweet potato, carrot, apple or pear. You could also try baby rice mixed with your baby's usual milk.
Make sure any cooked food has cooled right down before offering it to your baby.
Food that can trigger allergic reactions
It's important to introduce foods that can trigger allergic reactions one at a time, in very small amounts, so that you can spot any reaction.
These foods can be introduced from around 6 months as part of your baby's diet, just like any other foods:
- cows' milk (in cooking or mixed with food)
- eggs (eggs without a red lion stamp should not be eaten raw or lightly cooked)
- foods that contain gluten, including wheat, barley and rye
- nuts and peanuts (serve them crushed or ground)
- seeds (serve them crushed or ground)
- shellfish (don't serve raw or lightly cooked)
Once introduced and if tolerated, keep offering those foods as part of your baby's usual diet (to minimise the risk of allergy).
Include vegetables that aren't so sweet, such as broccoli, cauliflower and spinach.
This will help your baby get used to a range of flavours (rather than just the sweeter ones like carrots and sweet potato), and can help prevent them being fussy eaters as they grow up.
Remember, babies do not need salt or sugar added to their food (or cooking water). Babies should not eat salty foods as it is not good for their kidneys, and sugar can cause tooth decay.
Cook to soften them, then mash or blend veggies to a suitable texture for your baby – or give them as finger foods.
Offer a variety including ones with bitter flavours:
- butternut squash
- green beans
Mash or blend soft ripe fruits to a suitable texture for your baby, or give them as finger foods. Harder fruits will need to be cooked to soften them.
Wash and remove any pips, stones and hard skin.
These can be cooked, where necessary, and mashed or blended to a suitable texture for your baby or offered as finger foods.
Cereals can be mixed with breast milk or first infant formula – or with pasteurised whole (full-fat) cows' milk (or goats' or sheep's milk) if your baby is over 6 months old.
Starchy foods include:
- baby rice
- pitta bread
- sweet potato
This food group includes meat, fish, eggs, beans and pulses, and is suitable from around 6 months.
As well as giving your baby protein, these foods contain other useful nutrients, such as iron and zinc, which are important for babies.
For eggs, make sure you buy ones stamped with the British Lion stamp mark. There have been improved food safety controls in recent years, so infants, children and pregnant women can now safely eat raw or lightly cooked hen eggs (as long as they have the British Lion stamp), or foods containing them.
If you have a severely weakened immune system or are on a medically supervised diet prescribed by health professionals, you should cook all eggs thoroughly. Read about the healthy way to eat eggs.
Protein foods include:
- fish (no bones)
- pulses, such as chickpeas
Pasteurised dairy foods,like pasteurised full-fat yoghurt and cheese, are suitable foods for your baby from around 6 months.
Full-fat, unsweetened or plain yoghurts are a good choice because they do not contain added sugars.
Whole pasteurised (full-fat) cows' milk, or goats' or sheep's milk, can be used in cooking or mixed with food from around 6 months old, but not as a drink until your baby is 12 months.
Smooth or lumpy?
To help your baby get used to different textures and tastes quickly, try moving on to mashed and finger foods (from purées or blended) as soon as they're ready. This helps them learn how to chew, move solid food around their mouth and swallow solid foods.
Give your baby a spoon and let them try feeding themselves – you might need to stick a mat under the highchair though!
Babies take different amounts of time to get used to lumps, but it's an important skill they need to learn. Just keep offering them lumpy textures from around 6 to 7 months, and stay with them so you can be sure they are swallowing it safely.
Finger foods help get them used to different textures. They love picking bits of food up and feeding themselves. It's also good for developing their hand-eye co-ordination.
Did you know?
When your baby's had enough, they'll let you know by firmly closing their mouth or turning their head away.
What is baby-led weaning?
Baby-led weaning means offering your baby only finger foods and letting them feed themselves from the start, rather than spoon-feeding them puréed or mashed foods. You can offer a range of small, finger-sized pieces of food.
Some parents prefer baby-led weaning to spoon feeding, while others combine a bit of both.
There's no right or wrong way – the most important thing is that your baby eats a wide variety of food and gets all the nutrients they need.
Should I still give my baby breast milk or first infant formula?
Breast milk or first infant formula should be their main drink during the first year, you can continue breastfeeding for as long as you both want. Remember your baby’s tummy is tiny and fills up quickly – so offer milk feeds after solids.
During meal times, offer your baby sips of water from an open or free-flow cup. Using an open cup, or a free-flow cup without a valve, will help your baby learn to sip and is better for their teeth.
If your baby is younger than 6 months, it's important to sterilise the water by boiling it first and then letting it cool right down.
Sweet drinks like squash, fizzy drinks, milkshakes and fruit juice can have lots of sugar, so avoid these to help prevent tooth decay – even baby and toddler drinks can be sugary.
Cows' milk is not a suitable drink until your baby is 12 months old, but it can be used in cooking or mixed with food from 6 months of age.
Video: Weaning top tips
Hear tips, advice and stories from other parents weaning their babies in this video.