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Breast milk or formula is usually all your baby needs for the first 4-6 months. Signs that your baby is ready for solids are when:

  • Your baby is breastfeeding but your milk supply has been low for some time and his weight gain has slowed down or stopped.
  • Your baby is bottle-feeding and drinking excessive amounts. (First check that you are not over-diluting the formula.)
  • Your baby can hold his head steady and sit on your lap with support.
  • Your baby opens his mouth when you put a spoon near it.
  • Your baby can swallow instead.
  • Your baby is using more energy because he has started moving around more (eg. rolling).
  • Your baby is showing interest in the world around him, especially the food you are eating.

Your baby will need to start eating solids at 6 months to maintain good health and keep up with his increasing energy needs. Don’t be tempted to introduce solids too early (before 4 months) as this could make your baby sick as his digestive system has not yet developed sufficiently.

From 4 months:
  • Rice cereal
  • Apples: Cooked and pureed
  • Carrots: Cooked and pureed
  • Pears: Cooked and pureed
  • Potatoes: Cooked and pureed
  • Pumpkin: Cooked and pureed
  • Courgette/Baby marrow: Cooked and pureed
From 5 months:
  • Green beans: Cooked and pureed
  • Sweet potato: Cooked and pureed
From 6 months:
  • Apricots: Cooked and pureed
  • Avocado: Mashed
  • Bananas: Mashed but beware of constipation
  • Broccoli: Cooked and pureed
  • Butter: Small amount for cooking
  • Cauliflower: Cooked and pureed
  • Cheese: Small quantities at first and beware of a reaction
  • Chicken: Pureed (in a casserole for flavour)
  • Lentils
  • Mango: Raw and mashed
  • Milk: In small amounts and added to food only
  • Oats
  • Peaches: Cooked and pureed
  • Peas: Cooked and pureed
From 7 months:
  • Red/green peppers: In casseroles to add flavour
  • Couscous
  • Rice
  • Spinach: Cooked
  • Wheat-based baby cereal: Beware of a reaction
  • Yoghurt: Beware of a reaction
From 8 months:
  • Apricots: Raw
  • Beans: They can cause wind and may be difficult to digest in some babies
  • Cabbage
  • Dried fruit: Raisins and sultanas as finger food
  • Melon: As finger food
  • Onion: Diced and cooked in casseroles
  • Pasta
  • Sweet corn
  • Tomatoes: Raw, skinned and seeded
  • Vegetable oil in cooking
From 9 months:
  • Beef and lamb: In casseroles
  • Fish: beware of a reaction
  • Beetroot: In a meal
  • Egg yolk: Hard-boiled and beware of a reaction
  • Aubergine: In a meal
  • Garlic: In very small quantities
  • Liver: In small quantities
  • Mushrooms in casseroles
  • Prunes
From 10 months:
  • Bread
  • Cucumber: As a finger food
From 12 months:
  • Bean sprouts as a finger food
  • Berries: Be aware that some babies react to strawberries
  • Egg white: Beware of a reaction
  • All fruits
  • Honey
  • Lettuce
  • Pineapple: As a finger food
Use the following foods with caution:
  • Honey
  • Regular tea: The tannin can affect iron absorption. Rooibos is a better alternative.
  • Nuts: Beware of allergies. Babies can also inhale or choke on whole nuts or even stick them in their nose or ears.
  • Grapes: Whole grapes are a choking hazard so make sure they are cut in half.
  • Cow’s milk: This is not suitable until your child reaches 12 months.
  • Avoid giving sugar too often in the first 2 years as it could encourage a sweet tooth and the refusing of savoury food. Sugar will be listed in commercial baby foods as dextrose, sucrose, glucose or fructose.
  • Don’t add salt to food for a baby under 2 as it can put too much pressure on their immature kidneys. Watch for hidden salt in things like adult breakfast cereal.
  • Choose a time when your baby is happy and you are calm.
  • Start with a single grain, iron-enriched baby cereal like rice cereal.
  • Make the food smooth and mushy by adding breast milk or formula. You may need to puree food.
  • Offer about 2-3 teaspoons of solids and slowly increase this over the following days as your baby gets used to solids. Continue to breastfeed or formula feed on demand as you were doing before.
  • As a guide, offer solids twice a day for the first week and 3 times a day from the second week on.
  • If your baby refuses solids don’t panic, just try again in a few days.
  • Start with a single food (e.g. apple puree) and introduce new foods one at a time. Vary foods given so that you know your baby is getting a variety of nutrients. Once you have successfully introduced single foods, you can start to offer mixed meals.
  • Never try to force the food if your baby does not want it. Even if you have a keen eater, don’t try everything on the menu in three days!
  • Some finger food suggestions for older babies are steamed veggie sticks, grated carrot or apple (do not give whole in case of choking), small pieces of ripe paw-paw/pear/melon, pieces of homemade meat balls, or fingers of bread or toast.
  • Once your baby’s teeth start arriving, brush teeth twice a day using a clean, soft cloth or small soft toothbrush and a pea-size amount of baby toothpaste.
  • Drinking plain water is a good habit to start early. Start to introduce cooled boiled water from a cup with a spout. Soft drinks, juice (cordial) and regular tea are not suitable drinks for babies. Fruit juice is also unnecessary unless very diluted.
  • For convenience, you can prepare food ahead of time and freeze it in ice cube trays or small containers for later use.
  • Vary texture of foods from smooth, to mashed, to lumpy, to finger food as your baby develops. The goal is to have your baby eating a wide range of healthy foods just like the rest of the family by 12 months.
An allergy is an adverse reaction by the body to a foreign material. Antibodies are produced and these cause the allergic reaction. Reactions may happen immediately (2 minutes to 2 hours after eating) or may be delayed (hours or days after eating).
Common symptoms of allergies:
  • Skin rash
  • Diarrhoea
  • Swelling
  • Excessive mucus
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Eczema
  • Failure to thrive
  • Vomiting
  • Mild rash to anaphylaxis.
Allergies and intolerances are more common in young children as their immune system is not yet fully developed. Most will grow out of these responses.
If a food causes only a mild reaction, wait a month and retry the food. If there is a family history of allergy, avoid very high-allergen foods until after 12 months. These include peanuts and other nuts and seeds, cow’s milk, soy milk, egg, shellfish, chocolate, honey, tomato, berries, citrus fruit, kiwi fruit and mango. Do not introduce wheat/fish/egg yolk until 8 months.