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Introducing solid foods

All your baby needs for the first six months of their life is breast milk or first infant formula.  After this, solid foods can be introduced, but the most important food is still breast milk or first infant formula as these milks provide your baby with all the nutrients they need. 

It’s best to wait until your baby is at least six months old before introducing solid foods. This allows their gut to mature so they can process solids. They’ll also be able to feed themselves more easily so there will be less mess. 

Follow-on or growing-up milks aren’t needed by your baby at any stage in their development. 

Your baby will usually be ready to start taking solid food at around six months. Your baby will be ready to enjoy solid food if they are able to:

  • Sit unsupported and hold their head steady
  • Reach and pick up food themselves and put it in their mouth
  • Swallow food; if they’re not ready they’ll push the food out with their tongue.

The following are NOT signs that your baby is ready to start solid foods: Seeming hungry, waking at night when they normally sleep through, weight gain slowing down, watching you eat, other babies the same age starting to eat solids.

  • Always stay with your baby while eating to ensure that they do not choke
  • Offer a variety of finger foods for them to hold and touch, see our page on finger feeding for more advice
  • Allow your baby to feed themselves and let them enjoy making a mess
  • Don’t force them to eat; just try again later if they are not keen 
  • If offering hot food, make sure it’s cool enough to avoid burns
  • Stop when they show signs that they have had enough such as turning their head away or firmly closing their mouth
  • Give lots of praise and make it fun


  • Don’t add salt, sugar, or stock cubes to the food or cooking water
  • Do not give honey to children under one year
  • Whole cow’s milk can be used in cooking from six months

Don't worry about how much they eat at first, they will still be getting enough nutrients from their milk.

Start by offering a small amount of food such as some soft or mashed root vegetables once a day before their milk. Build up to three meals a day when your baby is around eight to nine months. Gradually reduce the milk that you offer so that they can consume enough solids. You can offer tap water for them to drink with their meal.

By 12 months your baby should be eating three meals a day and can have whole cow’s milk and water to drink. 

Breast milk can continue for as long as you and your baby want it, even after 12 months. After 12 months, infant formula is no longer needed and they can have whole cow's milk as a drink.

If you are having concerns get support as early as possible to get off to a good start. Talk to a member of your health visiting team for further advice and support.