Baby food milestones
The NHS recommends breast milk or infant formula alone for babies up to six months. Around that time, babies will begin to be ready to explore new textures and food flavours. This is called weaning.
Some babies may be ready for solid food before six months. Check with your health visitor or GP first and if you decide to introduce foods before six months of age avoid giving your baby certain foods which could make the baby unwell or cause allergies. This includes foods containing wheat, gluten, nuts, peanuts or peanut products, seeds, liver, eggs, fish, shellfish, cows' milk and soft cheese or unpasteurised cheeses. Honey can contain bacteria and should be avoided until a child is a year old.
Babies need to be supervised while eating in case of problems such as choking.
From around 6 months
The NHS recommends continuing breast milk or infant formula for demand feeding.
- Mix baby rice or baby cereal with the baby’s usual milk, not cow's milk.
- Mashed or cooked fruit and vegetables or soft fruit.
- Cooked and mashed favourites include parsnips, potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, carrots, apples or pears. Cool before feeding Soft fruit such as peaches, melons, ripe bananas or avocados may be used as finger foods or mashed.
- Soft cooked meats, such as chicken, mashed boneless fish, pasta, noodles, toast, pieces of chapatti bread, lentils, rice and mashed hard boiled eggs.
- Full-fat dairy products with no added sugar, such as yoghurt, fromage frais or custard.
- Cows' milk is not recommended to drink until a baby is a year old, but whole cows’ milk can be used in cooking or mixed with foods from six months.
The transition from a bottle to cups can also begin. Introduce a cup from around six months for sips of water with meals. An open cup or a free flow cup (without a valve) is recommended.
From 8 to 9 months
At this age, a baby will be building-up to having three meals a day.
Try a combination of soft finger foods, chopped and mashed foods. Aim for a variety of fruit and vegetables plus bread, rice, pasta, potatoes and other starchy foods. Also appropriately prepared meat, fish, eggs, beans and other sources of protein, and milk and dairy products.
From 12 months
A baby will now have three appropriately prepared meals a day, plus breast milk or whole cows' milk and healthy snacks such as fruit, sticks of vegetables, pieces of toast and rice cakes.
One year-olds can now drink cows' milk. Go for full-fat dairy products rather than skimmed or semi-skimmed milk because children under two years old require the extra fat and vitamins they supply.
The NHS recommends a one year-old's meals across a day should include:
- Three to four servings a day of starchy foods such as potatoes, bread and rice.
- Three to four servings of fruit and vegetables.
- Two servings a day of meat, fish, eggs, dishes using beans and lentils (pulses), such as dhal.
Making your own baby food
Ready-made baby food may be convenient, but the NHS says homemade is best. It also works out cheaper and the baby gets used to healthy food eaten by the rest of the family.
Make baby food at home using basic ingredients, but no added sugar or salt.
Food can be prepared in advance and kept ready in the fridge or freezer and heated up when it is needed.