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Start your baby on solids - explore healthy food together

Starting your baby on their first solid foods

Introducing your baby to solid foods - sometimes called "weaning" or "complementary feeding" - should start when your baby is about six months old.

It's a big step in their development and it can be great fun to explore new flavours and textures together.

It's really important that you introduce your baby to a healthy diet from the start.

  • Remember that breast milk (or first infant formula) will still provide energy and important nutrients throughout your baby's first year.
  • From six months, introduce a range of vegetables and fruit; starchy foods, such as potato, bread, rice and pasta; protein foods, such as meat, fish, well-cooked eggs, beans and pulses; and pasteurised dairy foods such as plain full-fat yoghurt.
  • Choose foods with no added sugar or sweetener and don't add them to your baby's food.
  • Choose foods with no added salt and don't add salt to your baby's food.
  • Remember your baby's tummy is only small, so they only need small amounts of food at a time.

Why it's good to wait

Babies can get all the fluid, nutrients and energy they need from breast milk or first infant formula until they’re about six months old. Having just breast milk until around six months will continue to help protect your baby from illness and infection. Babies who aren't breastfed are more likely to get diarrhoea and respiratory infections.

Some signs might make you think your baby is ready for solid foods before they actually are:

  • chewing fists
  • waking in the night when they have previously slept through
  • wanting extra milk feeds

This is normal behaviour and doesn’t always mean your baby is hungry or ready to start solid food. Starting solid foods won't make them any more likely to sleep through the night because some babies wake when they're in a light sleeping phase. During the night, your baby moves from deep sleep to light sleep several times and, while they're in a light sleep, they often wake themselves up. Sometimes they may just need more milk feeds.

Do babies who are big for their age need solid foods earlier?

It’s easy to see why you might think that babies who are big for their age should start solids early, but that’s not true. Babies are able to get all the fluid, energy and nutrients they need through breast milk or first infant formula alone until they are about six months old.

But every baby is different, so if you think your baby is ready before six months, speak to your health visitor.

Should I keep giving milk feeds?

Throughout your baby’s first year, breast milk or first infant formula is still important for their growth and development. So you should keep breastfeeding (or offering your baby’s usual infant formula) alongside solid foods. Breast milk is recommended as your baby's main milk drink throughout their first year and it will benefit your baby for as long as you choose to breastfeed. 

Follow-on formula isn’t suitable for babies under six months and there’s no need to introduce it after six months either. A first infant formula is all that your baby needs in their first year if they're not fully breastfed. You shouldn't give your baby cows', goats' or sheep's milk as a drink before they're 12 months old as they don't have the right mix of nutrients for your baby, but you can use them in cooking. After 12 months, you can give them pasteurised whole (full-fat) milk as a drink alongside a healthy diet.

There’s no need to offer your baby or toddler goodnight milks, growing up milks or toddler milks - by the age of 12 months babies are more likely to get most of the nutrients they need from their diet. These milks may contain more sugar and lower levels of certain nutrients than whole (full-fat) cows' milk.


  • Don’t add sugar or sweetener to food or drink for babies and young children.
  • Remember that ‘sugar’ goes by lots of different names including table or white sugar, unrefined or brown sugar, cane sugar, fructose, syrups (such as maple or corn syrup), honey and other nectars. All these are ‘sugars’ and you should avoid giving them to your baby.
  • Fruit and vegetables are an important part of your baby’s diet. Sugar is found naturally in fruit and vegetables, but you don’t need to worry about it unless the fruit or veg has been processed into juices and purees because then ’free sugars’ are released. These free sugars can cause tooth decay.
  • Make sure fruit purees don’t make up a large part of your baby’s diet - encourage them to move onto less processed foods quickly.
  • Fruit juices, purees and sugar substitutes are sometimes used to sweeten foods, even savoury foods, and that can encourage your baby to get a taste for sweet foods.
  • Never let your baby suck food straight from a pouch – always use a spoon and encourage your baby to move from smooth purees to mashed and finger foods quickly.
  • Foods like rusks, baby biscuits and biscotti, and puddings, often contain a lot of sugar so it’s best to avoid them.
  • Dried fruit like raisins and apricots and packet baked or pressed fruit snacks can contain lots of sugar and it’s best to only give them to your baby at mealtimes.
  • For babies over 12 months, plain water is the best drink to give.
  • Babies under 12 months don’t need fruit juices or smoothies. If you choose to give your baby these, dilute the juices and smoothies (one part juice to 10 parts water) and limit them to mealtimes. Find out more about drinks for your baby.
  • Introduce your baby to using a cup or free flow beaker from six months old to lower their risk of tooth decay.
  • Be label smart - products which say they contain no added or refined sugar may still contain sugars from other sources, such as syrups and nectars.

Find out how much is too much sugar.


  • Babies' kidneys can't cope with very much salt.
  • Don't add salt to your baby's food and don't give your baby salty foods such as ready meals, takeaways, processed meats, packet soups, sauces or snacks like crisps and crackers.
  • If your baby is trying some of your food, make sure you haven't added any salt, stock cubes, gravy or other sauces as these often contain a lot of salt.
  • Use herbs and spices (except hot chillies) instead of salt to flavour food for you and your baby.

Find out how much is too much salt.

Healthy eating

  • Work towards basing your baby’s diet on a variety of savoury foods such as vegetables, starchy foods, foods containing protein and pasteurised dairy foods.
  • Iron-rich foods such as meat, fish, well-cooked eggs, beans and pulses are important for your baby’s development – give your baby these foods from six months old.
  • Don’t be put off if it takes a while for your baby to like a new food – keep trying as it can take several attempts.
  • Let your baby enjoy holding, touching and exploring their food – it’s good to be messy!
  • Your baby will notice if you enjoy eating healthily so try to be a good role model and eat healthily together as a family.
  • As your baby gets older, don’t be tempted to use food as a reward or a way of persuading your child to behave. Think of non-food rewards instead, such as stickers, or try distracting them – you could take them to the park, play a game or read a book.
  • From six months to five years, it’s recommended that all babies and children are given daily vitamin supplements containing vitamins A, C and D, unless they’re having 500ml (about a pint) or more of first infant formula a day.

How much is too much?


This includes all of the sugar added to foods including table sugar, unrefined sugar, nectars, syrups and honey, and the sugar in juices, smoothies and purees.

Babies and children under 11 years should have less sugar than adults.

The daily recommended maximum amount of sugar for babies and young children is:

  • 2 years – 13 grams a day (3 cubes) max
  • 3 years – 15g a day (4 cubes) max
  • 4 to 6 years – 19g a day (5 sugar cubes) max


Babies and children under 11 should have less salt than adults.

The daily recommended maximum amount of salt for babies and young children is:

  • 1 to 3 years – 2g salt a day (0.8g sodium) max
  • 4 to 6 years – 3g salt a day (1.2g sodium) max

Read the sugar and salt recommendations for older children.

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