When is the best time to begin introducing solid foods to your baby?

Research has found that babies need nothing but breastmilk for the first six months.  This gives your baby's digestive system time to develop so that they can cope with solid foods.  Some babies may be ready to begin weaning sooner than this - check with your health visitor if you feel unsure.

Signs that your baby is ready for weaning:

  • Your baby should be able to remain in a sitting position and hold his/her head steady
  • He/she should be able to co-ordinate their eyes, hands and mouth so that they can look at the food, pick it up and taste it unaided
  • He/she should be able to swallow food.  Babies who are not ready will push their food back out

Be aware that there are some signs that can be mistaken that your baby is ready for weaning even when they are not - this is why it is always worth checking with your health visitor.  Research suggests that these are normal behaviours and not necessarily a sign of hunger or a sign that your baby is ready to start solid food (fist chewing; waking in the night when they have previously slept through; wanting extra milk feeds).

Getting started

  • Always stay with your baby when they are eating
  • Let your baby enjoy touching and holding the food
  • Allow your baby to feed themselves, using their fingers, as soon as they show an interest
  • Don't force your baby to try foods; wait until the next time if they are not interested on this occasion
  • If you are using a spoon, wait for your baby to open their mouth before you offer the food.  Your baby may like to hold the spoon too!
  • Start by offering just a few pieces or teaspoons of food, once a day
  • Cool hot food and test it before giving it to your baby
  • Don't add salt, sugar or stock cubes to your baby's food or cooking water

Gradually you'll be able to increase the amount and variety of food that your baby eats until they can eventually eat the same things as the rest of the family, but in much smaller portions

Baby-led weaning

Some parents choose to begin the weaning journey by letting baby feed themselves when they are ready (as opposed to spoon feeding or using pureed food).  Baby sits at the table with the family and is offered food rather than given. This method of weaning allows baby to build his/her confidence and explore foods in his/her own time.

Useful Weaning Links

Start 4 Life

Baby-led Weaning (Gill Rapley)





Cheshire East Residents only:

Cherubs Helpline     (9am - 5pm Mon - Fri):  03001234579

Leighton Hospital Crewe: 01270 612287

Macclesfield District General Hospital: 01625 661153



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