Starting solid foods

Babies just need breastmilk or an appropriate first infant formula for around the first six months of life. From six months they are likely to, to start showing the signs of readiness for the introduction of solids alongside breast milk or formula.

Sometimes families think that a baby who is waking in the night when they have previously slept through, wanting extra milk feeds or chewing their fists is ready for solids. These are just normal behaviours when a baby grows and develops, not signs of hunger.

Even if your baby is bigger than other babies of a similar age, it doesn't mean they will need to start solids any earlier than six months.

If you think your baby is ready for solid foods before six months, or before all three illustrated signs appear, it is a good idea to talk to your health visitor or health care professional first.

Babies need to be included in meals with you and your family as soon as they start to eat solid foods. There is no need to make special foods for babies. Babies learn about enjoying food & how to behave at mealtimes by watching those around them. Being overweight often runs in families and this is thought to be at least partly due to the eating behaviours they see at home. It is important to try and set a good example to your baby by giving them lots of opportunities to try a wide range of healthy foods.

Sometimes babies need to try a new food several times before they accept it, so do not worry if your baby spits out foods to start with. Never force your baby to eat - just as with milk feeding, your baby needs to understand when they have had enough so they do not put on too much weight.

For further information about starting your baby on solid foods:

Speak to your Health Visitor she is the best person to give you evidenced based advice.

You can also find further information at:

Breastfeeding resources - Baby Friendly Initiative (

First Steps Nutrition Trust

Your baby is ready if they can:

  • Stay in a sitting position and hold their head steady
  • Co-ordinate their eyes, hands and mouth so that they can look at the food, pick it up and put it in their mouth all by themselves.
  • Swallow food. Babies who are not ready will push their food back out, so they get more round their face than they do in their mouths.

NOTE: It's rare for these signs to appear together before six months.

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(N.B: The Family and Therapies team at ABUHB is NOT responsible for the content on the webpage links that we refer to in our resource sections and linked information to external sites. All information was accurate and appropriate at the time the webpage was created.)

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