As your baby approaches six months, this is the time to start thinking about introducing solid foods (also called weaning) alongside breast milk or infant formula.
Your baby is ready for solid foods at around six months. Initially the amount of milk your baby drinks will remain very similar until weaning is established.
Breast milk, infant formula and water should be the only drinks offered after 6 months of age. The introduction of solid foods before 6 months reduces the amount of breast milk drunk and is associated with greater risk of infectious illness in infants.
It is best to wait until 6 months before introducing solid foods, but if you choose to start before, talk to your health visitor.
Never give any solid foods before 17 weeks.
Why wait until 6 months when the shop sells jar food for 4 month olds…. At 6 months old your baby can:
- Sit up without support. It will be easier and safer to feed your baby once they are sitting up.
- Pick up objects and put them to their mouth!
- Chew objects. They don’t need teeth to chew.
- Swallow rather than suck. They use their tongue to move food from front to back of mouth
Babies wean at different rates, so attend one of our baby hubs for information and support from our health visitors.
Learning to eat
- Your baby will use their tongue to move soft mashed food from the front of the mouth to the back for swallowing.
- Getting used to the taste and feel of food in their mouth
- Initially 1-3 teaspoons mashed food.
- Moving lumps of mashed food around the mouth and chewing soft lumps.
- Feeding themselves soft finger foods.
- Sipping from a free-flowing cup.
- 2 meals building up to 3.
- Chewing minced and chopped food.
- Using a spoon to feed themselves.
- Feeding themselves hard finger foods.
- Drinking from a free-flowing cup.
- 3 meals and 2 healthy snacks
Healthy receipes see page 6 and 7 of our leaflet: (Thinking about introducing solid foods?)
From 6 months of age introduce drinking from a non-valve, free-flowing cup to enable your child to learn the skill of sipping. Sipping is important in the development of the muscles used for talking. From age one year onwards, you should remove the bottle.
Food allergy and reactions
Foods that are more commonly associated with food allergies include:
- Cow’s milk, egg
- Wheat, gluten, soya
- Fish, shellfish
- Sesame and other seeds
- Peanuts and tree nuts
There is no evidence to support delaying the introduction of these foods beyond six months of age.
Delaying their introduction past 12 months may actually increase a child’s risk of developing an allergy to that food.
Make sure your baby is well, being unwell can place their immune system under stress and make it more difficult to identify if symptoms are due to their illness or a reaction.
How to introduce these foods:
Introduce these foods one at a time for 3 days then introduce the next food.
If your baby has no reaction to the food, continue to offer the food at least twice a week.
Offer the foods in the morning and on a day they will be with you or their carer (not child care or nursery) so you can observe any reactions.
If you are concerned that your baby is reacting to a certain food, stop giving that food and seek medical advice from a health professional.
Children under five should never be given whole or coarsely chopped nuts or chunks of peanut butter because of the risk of choking on these foods. (2).
Not all adverse reactions to foods are because of allergy e.g. strawberries, tomatoes, citrus fruits can irritate the skin e.g. cause a red rash around the mouth. This is more common in babies with sensitive skin and eczema.
Avoiding the food is not needed.
Applying an emollient moisturiser around the mouth before feeding can help prevent this type of contact reaction.
Information is taken from Allergy UK please access their website for further information and advice
Avoid offering unhealthy foods or limiting the amount to improve your families diets and reduce the risk of unhealthy weight gain this includes: baby juices, fizzy and sugary drinks, especially around evening times.
Some children and families are having 3 times as much sugar as they are meant to. Too much sugar is not only harmful to our teeth causing tooth decay, it can lead to the build up of harmful fat on our insides that we can’t see. This fat can:
- build up around vital organs,
- cause weight gain
- cause serious diseases; like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
To help you reduce the amount of sugar you and your family eat, BE SUGAR SMART (https://www.nhs.uk/change4life/food-facts/sugar) Lewisham was the first sugar smart Borough in London.
For information in sugar smart companies in Lewisham: https://www.lewisham.gov.uk/myservices/socialcare/health/diet-and-exercise/sugarsmart/Pages/What-is-Sugar-Smart-Lewisham.aspx
First steps nutrition eating well: https://www.firststepsnutrition.org/eating-well-resources/
Start 4 life weaning support: https://www.nhs.uk/start4life/weaning