Starting on solid foods
When to start
From six months old, you can gradually increase the amount of solid foods you give your baby so that by twelve months, solid foods become the main part of your baby's diet, with breast or formula milk making up the balance. Remember that cows' milk isn't suitable as a drink for babies under a year old.
By giving your baby solid foods you will be introducing them gradually to a wide range of non-milk foods. So, by a year old, they will be eating a varied diet.
But remember that all babies are different. Some start solid foods earlier, some later. Some take to it quickly and some take longer. Some are choosy, others seem to like everything.
Here are some suggestions to make this process easier and safer:
Go at your baby's pace. Allow plenty of time for feeding, particularly at first. Your baby needs to learn to move solid food from the front of the tongue to the back, to swallow it. The food is going to taste and feel different - so it's bound to take time.
Spoon out the amount you think your baby will eat and heat this, rather than heating a large amount that then goes to waste. This is because you will need to throw away any of the heated food that your baby does not eat, as it is not safe to reheat previously warmed food. It is important to heat food thoroughly and allow it to cool, stir well and test, before offering it to your baby. Also, don't refreeze any food that is been warmed or previously frozen. And remember that everything you use for feeding your baby needs to be really clean.
Always stay nearby when your baby is eating to make sure that he or she doesn't choke.
Do not rush or 'force feed'. Most babies know when they have had enough to eat. Don't spend a lot of time persuading your baby to take food - they soon learn that refusing food is a good way of getting attention.
Ideally, choose a time of day when both you and your baby are relaxed.
Encourage your baby to help with feeding. When your baby shows an interest in feeding him or herself, this is a good sign. So encourage this by giving your baby the spoon, while you try to spoon in most of the meal with another spoon. It will be messy at first, but try not to worry about it.
Offer a wide variety of foods that you and your family usually eat, as this might help avoid choosiness later on. Avoid giving your baby any eggs, or salty, sugary or processed foods that have not been specifically designed for babies. Aim to encourage your baby to eat a variety of family foods and adapt to your pattern of eating.
Use mashed-up family food when you can. This way, you will know what the ingredients are and you will be getting your baby used to eating what you eat. Commercial baby foods can be useful but don't let them replace family foods altogether.
Remember, cows' milk is not suitable as a drink for babies under a year old.