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Mix it up with different foods for your baby

Choosing first foods

When your baby starts eating their first foods, how much they eat is less important than getting them used to eating. They will still be getting most of their nutrients from breast milk or first infant formula. Babies don’t need three meals a day at first, so you can start by offering them foods at a time that suits you both.

Gradually, you’ll be able to increase the amount and variety of food your baby eats. By 10-12 months, your baby will be having three meals a day and enjoying a wide range of tastes and textures. As your baby grows, eating together as a family can encourage them to develop good eating habits as long as you’re eating healthily.

From about six months old, your baby’s first foods can include soft cooked vegetables, fruits, starchy foods, protein foods and pasteurised dairy foods.

How to start

Some babies like to start with mashed foods. Other babies need a little longer to get used to new textures, so may prefer smooth or blended foods on a spoon at first. To help your baby progress to a range of textures and tastes quickly, try to move on from purees to mashed foods as soon as your baby is able to have them.

From six months, encourage your baby to have finger foods they can easily hold in their hand to help them practise feeding themselves. Start off with finger foods that break up easily in their mouth and that are long enough for them to grip. Always stay with your baby when they're eating.

Try not to worry about how much your baby eats at first. There will be some days when your baby eats more and some days when they eat less, and they may reject some foods altogether. Don’t be put off. All babies are different and some babies learn to accept new foods and textures more quickly than others.

Keep offering different foods, even foods your baby has already rejected, and allow your baby to go at their own speed. It can take many attempts before your baby will accept a new food or texture. Don't give up!

Vegetables

Cook vegetables to soften them, then mash or puree them to a suitable texture for your baby, or give them as finger foods. Offer a variety of vegetables, including ones with bitter flavours. Offer a small amount and remember it may take many attempts for your baby to get used to new foods. It's good to offer your baby different foods every day. Never add salt or sugar to your baby’s food.

Examples of vegetables:

  • Broccoli
  • Parsnips
  • Peppers
  • Peas
  • Cauliflower
  • Swede
  • Mushrooms
  • Spinach
  • Green beans
  • Courgette
  • Asparagus
  • Kale
  • Carrots
  • Avocado
  • Butternut squash
  • Cabbage

Fruit

Mash or puree 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. Remove any pips, stones and hard skin. Offer a small amount and remember it may take many attempts for your baby to get used to new foods. It's good to offer your baby different foods every day.

Examples of fruits:

  • Banana
  • Blueberries
  • Kiwi
  • Oranges
  • Apple
  • Raspberries
  • Mango
  • Nectarine
  • Pear
  • Strawberries
  • Pineapple
  • Papaya
  • Melon
  • Peach
  • Plum

Starchy foods

These can be cooked and mashed or pureed 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 six months old.

Examples of starchy foods:

  • Potato
  • Sweet potato
  • Rice
  • Baby rice
  • Pasta
  • Porridge
  • Oats
  • Oatmeal
  • Cornmeal
  • Maize
  • Millet
  • Quinoa
  • Toast
  • Breads
  • Chapatti
  • Pitta bread

Protein foods

Protein foods such as meat, fish, well-cooked eggs, beans and pulses are all suitable foods for your baby from about six months. As well as giving your baby protein, they also contain other useful nutrients, such as iron and zinc, which are important for babies.

See our tasty recipes for your baby.

Examples of protein foods:

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Beef
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Fish (no bones)
  • Egg
  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Tofu
  • Pulses such as chickpeas

Dairy foods

Pasteurised dairy foods such as pasteurised full-fat yoghurt and cheese are suitable foods for your baby from six months. Full-fat, unsweetened or plain yoghurts are a good choice for your baby because they don't 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 six months old, but they shouldn't be given as a drink until 12 months.

What are finger foods?

Finger foods are pieces of food about the size of your own index finger. They allow your baby to get used to different textures and types of foods. Try grabbable bits of soft vegetables and fruit as your baby’s first finger foods and move on to a variety of other foods - try toast, pitta bread and strips of meat or fish as your baby gets more confident.

Always stay with your baby when they’re eating in case they choke. Avoid giving them whole grapes, hard chunks of foods such as raw apple or carrot, and small hard foods such as nuts and popcorn. Remove any pips, stones or tough skin.

Find out which other foods to avoid.

If you’re offering raw fruit or vegetables, make sure you wash them well first.

Baby snacks

Packaged baby snacks, such as rusks, baby biscuits and biscotti, shouldn't form part of your baby's diet as they can contain lots of sugar.

Dried fruit like raisins and apricots, and packaged baked or pressed fruit snacks, can also contain lots of sugar and your baby should only eat them as part of a meal, not as a snack between meals.

Avoid giving your baby salty foods such as crisps and crackers.

Suitable snacks your baby could try instead include:

  • fresh fruit, such as small pieces of soft, ripe peeled pear or peach
  • pasteurised plain unsweetened full-fat yoghurt
  • toast, pitta or chapatti fingers
  • small cubes of cheese

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