Up until they are six months old (from the latest research by the World Health Organization) babies can get all the nutrients they need from breast milk or infant formula. This gives a baby’s digestive system time to develop so that they can cope fully with solid foods.
From around six months old your baby is ready for solid foods to be added to their diet and this marks quite a leap in their development. Your baby will be ready for solids when you notice the following signs:
- They can sit up and hold their head steady
- Their hand eye coordination has developed sufficiently so that they can bring objects easily to their mouth
- They are able to swallow – babies who are not ready will push the food back out
Another sure sign that they are ready is when they start pinching food from your plate!
To begin with, how much your baby takes is less important than getting them used to the idea of eating. They will still be getting most of their nutrition from breast milk or infant formula.
Babies don’t necessarily need three meals a day to start with, so you could begin by offering foods at a time that suits you both. Parents may choose to begin with purees, mashed food or a more baby-led approach. A baby-led approach involves baby feeding themselves with finger food. as from around six months on wards your baby will probably be able to use their fingers and hands to bring food to their mouth. This ‘baby-led’ approach is a good way of helping your baby learn the connection between taste, appearance and texture and to feel more in control of the whole process of eating.
Gradually, you’ll be able to increase the amount and variety of food your baby eats, until they can eventually eat the same as the rest of the family, in smaller portions.
- Always stay with your baby when they are eating in case they start to choke.
- Your baby will probably enjoy touching and holding the food.
- It is a good idea to let your baby feed themselves, using their fingers, as soon as they are able. You might like to place the food directly onto the tray of the highchair and allow them to pick the food up at their own pace.
- Try not to put pressure on your baby to eat – wait until the next time if they’re not interested this time.
- If you’re using a spoon your baby may like to hold a spoon, too and it is nice to try and go at your baby’s own pace by reading their cues for when they are ready for the next mouthful. You can put pureed food directly onto the tray too so that they can try to feed themselves.
- Many parents choose to start with soft cooked fruit and vegetables (or mashed) such as carrot, sweet potato, broccoli, pear, apple. Raw foods such as avocado and banana are also very good options.
Always remember that this should be a fun time for you both!