Solids by age: at six months
How will I know my baby is ready for solids?
By about six months, you’ll probably start noticing signs that your baby is ready to have more than just milk. Signs that your baby is ready for solids include:
- she holds her head steady
- she can stay upright in a sitting position
- she can pick food up and put it in her mouth, all by herself
When you do start weaning, another good sign that your baby is ready is if she swallows the food, rather than pushing it out of her mouth.
If you notice these signs before your baby is around six months old, talk to your health visitor before giving her food. Your baby’s digestive system may not be mature enough to cope with solids just yet.
If your baby reaches six months and you still haven’t noticed these signs, it’s also a good idea to talk to your health visitor. At this age, your baby needs more nutrients than she can get from your breastmilk or formula milk.
Should my baby’s first foods be purees, finger foods or both?
Traditional weaning means spoon-feeding your baby pureed or mashed foods. Baby-led weaning (BLW) means letting your baby feed herself whole pieces of finger foods with her hands. There’s no right way to feed your little one, so experiment and see what works best for you and your baby.
In reality, most parents end up doing a combination of the two. For example, you may find it easier to let your baby join in with family meals at home, but feed her from a jar while out and about. Or you may like to spoon-feed puree in the comfort of your kitchen, but let her nibble on a rice cake when you’re in a cafe. There’s no hard-and-fast rule; just do whatever works best for you and your family.
Benefits of baby-led weaning
- Joining in with the rest of the family at mealtimes can be great fun for your baby, and a fantastic bonding experience. She’ll be able to enjoy the same food as the rest of the family (provided there’s no sugar or salt in her portion), so you won’t have to make separate meals. And she’ll learn a lot by watching you eat too.
- Your baby can enjoy the independence of choosing what to eat first, and go at her own pace. Feeding herself is also great practice for her hand-eye coordination.
- BLW lets you introduce your baby to a range of different tastes and textures, right from the start. Although it can be messy; many babies love the sensation of moulding and squishing their food, before they put it anywhere near their mouths!
- Enjoying a wider range of foods now may help your baby to have a more varied diet as she grows up.
- Mealtimes become less stressful. You don’t need to prepare separate meals and you can let your baby get on with feeding herself, instead of encouraging or cajoling her at each bite.
Benefits of traditional weaning
- BLW can be very messy, with more food ending up on the floor than in your little one’s mouth. Spoon-feeding gives you more control, so you can minimise the mess and waste.
- Some babies prefer smooth foods at the start, and may take their time to get used to new textures
- It’s easier to tell how much your little one’s eating, so you may feel more reassured that she’s getting all the vitamins and minerals she needs.
Whichever approach you choose, it can take time for your baby to get used to new foods. You may need to offer a particular food several times before your baby decides that she likes it. Perseverance and patience are key!
What are the best first foods for my baby?
Your baby can enjoy the same first foods whether you’re opting for traditional weaning, BLW, or a combination of the two.
- Cooked and cooled vegetables, such as carrot, parsnip, or potato.
- Fruits, such as peach or melon, or cooked and cooled apple or pear.
- Baby rice or baby cereal, mixed with your baby’s usual milk (for traditional or mixed weaning).
You can also try other vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, spinach and sweet potato, and fruits such as kiwi, oranges, strawberries and mango. For traditional weaning, you may prefer to offer one fruit or vegetable at a time to begin with. Once she’s getting used to the idea of eating, you can start combining different flavours, such as apple and pear, or carrot and sweet potato.
- bread, rice, potatoes, and pasta
- full-fat dairy foods
- meat, fish, eggs, and beans
Introducing a range of foods and tastes at this stage may help to avoid your baby becoming a fussy eater later on. Offer your baby savoury foods as well as sweet, so she can enjoy a variety of flavours.
Are there any foods I shouldn’t give my baby?
The following foods aren’t safe for your six month old:
- Honey. This can sometimes contain bacteria that can make babies under 12 months old very ill.
- Whole nuts. These are dangerous for children under five because of the risk of choking. Crushed nuts and nut butters are safe for your baby. Talk to your GP before giving your baby peanut-based products if there’s a history of allergies in your family.
- Shark, swordfish and marlin. These fish can all contain high levels of mercury, which isn’t safe for your baby.
- Raw shellfish. This could put your baby at risk of food poisoning.
- Added salt or sugar. Too much salt (more than 1g of salt per day) is bad for your baby’s kidneys. Check food labels carefully to make sure she’s not getting too much. Sugar is bad for your baby’s teeth, so don’t add sugar to her meals. Avoid giving her sweet foods such as cakes, biscuits and sugary drinks.
Your baby needs plenty of energy to grow, so offer full-fat milk, yoghurt and cheese, rather than low-fat versions. However, it’s best to avoid foods that are high in saturated fat, such as crisps, biscuits and cakes.
It’s perfectly safe for your baby to eat runny eggs, and foods made with raw eggs, provided they’re stamped with the British Lion quality stamp. This means that the risk of salmonella poisoning is very low. Eggs without this stamp should be fully cooked until the white and yolk are both solid before offering them to your baby.
How much food should my six month old eat?
When you first start weaning, don’t worry about how much your baby eats. Your little one will still be getting most of the nutrients she needs from breastmilk or formula. The most important thing is to get her used to the idea of food, and let her try lots of different tastes.
You could start off by offering your baby a few pieces or teaspoons of food, once a day. As your little one gets used to the idea of eating, you can gradually offer more food, more often, until she’s joining in with family meals.
If your little one’s not interested, don’t try to force her to eat. Instead, just keep offering food at mealtimes until she takes an interest. Let her go at her own speed, and eat as much – or little – as she wants.
What should my six month old drink?
If your baby is bottle-fed, keep offering her usual formula – there’s no need to switch to follow-on formula. If you’re breastfeeding, your breastmilk will continue to protect her against illnesses and infections for as long as you carry on feeding her.
It’s fine to use cow’s milk in your baby’s food, but don’t offer it to her as a drink until she’s a year old. Instead, she should carry on drinking breastmilk or formula, to give her more of the vitamins and minerals she needs
Once your baby starts solid foods, you can also offer her water to drink at mealtimes. If she’s over six months old, there’s no need to boil and cool the water first.
You can also offer well-diluted fruit juice (one part juice to 10 parts water) with meals, but avoid fruit squash and fizzy drinks, which don’t give your baby any of the vitamins she needs. Never give your baby caffeinated drinks, including tea and coffee, as these reduce the amount of iron she absorbs from her food.