Breast feeding and/or bottle-feeding
is recommended up to 6 months, before this, your baby's digestive system is still developing and introducing foods earlier can risk infections and allergies
. If your baby is showing signs of hunger then offer an extra breast or bottle feed.
From 6 months, other foods can gradually be introduced. If you do decide to introduce foods earlier then speak with your Health Visitor or GP as certain foods must be avoided.
To start with, choose simple foods that are easily digestible. For example vegetables, rice and fruit. Introduce new foods gradually, and ensure your baby still gets 5 to 6 breast feeds a day or 500mls of formula milk
Cow's milk should not be introduced until your baby is one year old
As your baby adjusts to solids it will gradually start to reduce the amount of breast or bottle feeds it needs per day : it will reduce from 6 feeds per day to 5 and then 4, which is achieved by increasing the quantities of food at each meal.
- Solids are not recommended before 6 months - see your health visitor or GP if for advice if you have any questions or concerns and would like to wean before 6 months.
- Gradually introduce new foods and eating implements (spoons, bowls. High chair etc). Avoid too many changes together; for example, don't give your baby potatoes (which it may never have seen or tasted before) with a spoon (which it may never have seen or used before). Time is needed to adjust to new tastes, textures and flavours;
Getting started ;-
- Try giving a new food each week
- No exotic fruits, nor strawberries in the first instance
- Try giving small amounts of meat with vegetables
- Don't give new foods at night-time
- Start with small amounts, which can then be increased little by little.
- Use plastic sheeting on the floor as weaning can be messy as well as fun!
Fruit is an important part of your baby's diet as it contain Vitamin C which helps with the absorption of iron
- Should be cooked and pureed at first.
- From the 10th or 11th month, babies can be given mashed and uncooked fruit
- Babies like stewed fruit.
- Do not add sugar
- Choose: peaches, bananas, pears, mango, strawberries.
- Avoid exotic fruits for example passion fruit and lychee. Such food can have strong flavours and pips and stones, which can be a choking hazard.
- Introduce the new foods at lunchtime rather than the evening meal
- Fresh fruit is far healthier than manufactured baby foods, but for occasional use they are an alternative.
Milk: - MUST continue to remain the basis of the baby's diet
- The baby must consume at least 500 ml of formula each day or approximately 6 breastfeeds until at least a year old.
- Cow's milk must not be introduced until your baby is a least a year old
- When your baby is eating plenty of solids 2 - 3 times a day, you can drop a milk feed.
- You may change the type of formula to a second stage milk once your baby is eating solids.
- Approximately, by 9 months, your baby should be having 3 - 4 meals a day. Two meals should be varied containing sources of protein plus vegetables.
- As your baby is approaching one year it may have its milk in just a couple of feeds during the day.
- Once you baby is used to fruit, vegetables and a sources of protein for example meat or eggs then begin to introduce starchy foods such a bread potatoes and rice. This is usually when you're baby is around 8 months
- Give only small amounts to start with
- Potatoes must be eaten cooked and can be steamed, mashed or with a vegetable soup.
- Sweetened foods such as biscuits should be avoided
Offer a full range and variety of vegetables such as French beans, spinach, leeks, carrots, zucchini (without pips or skin)
- They can be boiled, steamed and mixed
- Do not add salt
- Vegetables can be consumed in the form of a soup
- Vegetables should be pureed to start with and then made lumpy as approaching a year. This helps your baby adjust to a variety of textures and promotes chewing which helps with developing cheek muscles esstiental for speech.
- Manufactured baby food is an easy alternative, however it is much better for your baby to have what you're eating. Eating as a family helps your baby get into good eating habits from and early age. You also know what has gone into home cooked food as 'ready made' food can contain salt and sugars which should be avoided.
Meat, fish and hard-boiled eggs
- Give one of these protein foods per day and gradually increase the quantities, and from 9 months offer your baby two servings of protein per day.
- Serve meat with the vegetables
- Avoid fried foods
- Eggs can be introduced from 8 or 9 months of age. If there is a family history of food allergies, then seek advice from your Health Visitor or GP. Always ensure that the eggs are thoroughly cooked and start with trying just the egg yolk , which if it is well tolerated after a number of times then introduce the egg white.
- At first puree all foods and start with something simple such as baby rice mixed with either breast or formula milk, pureed banana, sweet potatoe etc
- Bread, rice and semolina can be introduced around 8 months of age.
- Avoid any fried foods, honey, chocolate and sugar
- Do not salt your baby's food even during cooking
- Avoid low-fat foods your baby needs the calories of full fat products
- Preferably prepare "home-made" foods
- From 6 months start to introduce a feeding cup and aim to wean your baby of the bottle by 12 months
- Offer water in a cup at meal times
- If using pure juice, dilute with one part juice to ten parts water
- Fizzy drinks are not recommended
- As a rule of thumb, 100-150 ml of water or milk should be drunk per kilo of weight of baby per day
- In case of diarrhoea, fever and vomiting, increase the quantity of water.
According to a study carried out in 2005, more than 50% of children between 13 and 18 months eat regular unhealthy drinks and snacks just like adults: these are crisps, fizzy drinks, ketchup and mayonnaises - all of which are offered too early.
- Make sure you supervise your baby at all times when feeding - even finger foods.
- Cut food into small bits and remove skin from sausage, bones from meat and fish
- Take care with small foods like grapes and cherry tomatoes
- Lightly cook carrot sticks before feeding them to your baby
Encourage your baby to feed itself. Finger foods promotes chewing and independence.
Try foods like -
- Pitta bread
- Bread Sticks
- Peeled apples, banana, mango
- Green beans
Storing and reheating food
- Reheat food so that it is piping hot all the way through and cool before giving it too your baby.
- Make sure food is thoroughly defrosted before reheating.
- After cooking food, cool it as soon as possible and place it in the fridge and consume within 2 days, or place in the freezer.