What should I feed my baby?
Our handy timetable offers a rough guide to what you can give your baby and when, but remember that all babies are individuals – and that applies to their appetites too!
0-6 months: Breast or formula milk
Both the Department of Health (DOH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend that babies be exclusively breastfed until the age of six months. The same age guideline also applies to formula-fed babies. Before this age, your baby’s digestive system is too immature to cope with solid food and early weaning has been linked to an increased risk of allergies, eczema and diabetes.
6 months+: First solids
Once your baby hits the magic six month mark, he’s developmentally ready to try solids – if you’ve noticed he seems less satisfied by his milk feeds, it’s a good sign he needs more than milk to satisfy his hunger. Don’t offer solids before six months unless your doctor or health visitor advises you to do so.Ideal foods
- Gluten-free baby rice cereal
- 7-9 months: More texture
- Puréed or mashed/strained fruits and vegetables (offer naturally-sweet orange vegetables before you start to introduce green-veg purées).
Aim for twice a day with milk feeds in between (your baby should still receive most of his nourishment from breast or formula milk – a minimum of 500-600ml/16-20 ounces a day). Introduce new foods one at a time three to four days apart to ensure that you can pinpoint the cause of any potential allergic reactions (such as a rash or diarrhoea).
7-9 months: More texture
Move your baby gradually away from sloppier foods to mashed foods with a thicker, chewier consistency as his teeth start to cut through.Ideal foods
- Mashed banana or avocado
- Mashed vegetables, such as potatoes, squash, carrots, parsnips
- Finely chopped or minced chicken and white fish
- Wheat-based foods*
- Full-fat yogurt or fromage frais
- Finely grated cheese can be used in sauces but your baby won’t be ready for cows’ milk as a main drink until he’s over one.
Three times a day plus finger food snacks, with a minimum of 500-500ml/16-20 ounces of breast or formula milk a day. Now is when you can offer first finger foods too – diced frozen veg cooked to a soft consistency is ideal, as are toast or pitta bread slices, soft fruit, rice cakes and Cheerios cereal.
*If you have a family history of food allergies, avoid wheat-based foods until your baby is over one.
10-12 months: Greater variety
This is your window of opportunity as far as getting your baby used to a wide variety of tastes and textures. Combine foods with sauces and mince or chop your baby’s food less finely now, so he can continue to grow accustomed to chunkier textures. Continue to offer lots of finger foods to help hone your baby’s fast developing thumb-and-finger pincer grip.Ideal foods
As 7-9 months, plus…
- Elbow pasta with home-made cheese or meat sauce
- Mashed cooked lentils
- Diced frozen veg cooked to a soft consistency
- Scrambled or finely chopped/minced hard-boiled egg yolk*
- Chopped lamb and beef
- Soft cheese cubes
- Soft fruit
- Finger foods as before
Four times a day plus finger food snacks, with a minimum of 350-400ml/12-14 ounces of breast or formula milk.
*If you have a family history of food allergies, avoid eggs until your baby is over one
12 months+: Family food
Try to plan family meals so your baby can eat what you’re eating but don’t give him sugary foods or processed food that may contain too much salt – if you use salt in cooking, set aside a salt-free portion for your baby before adding it. Around now you can give your baby his own spoon at mealtimes, so he can make his first attempts at self-feeding (though don’t expect him to get much in there himself!) while you feed him.Ideal foods
As 10-12 months, plus….
- Scrambled or chopped hard-boiled whole eggs
- Chopped salmon
- Mashed broccoli and cauliflower (offer steamed florets as finger foods too)
- Sliced kiwifruit, mango and melon
- Sliced grapes (do not give your baby whole grapes, as these are a choking hazard)
- Cows’ milk as a drink – stick to full-fat milk until he’s two
Four times a day plus snacks, with a minimum of 350-400ml/12 ounces of breast or formula milk. You can start to offer larger meals as your baby gets on the move and needs more calories for energy.
What to avoid
- Potential allergens such as peanut butter, wheat, eggs and shellfish before the age of 12 months if you have a family history of allergies to these foods.
- Salt Your baby’s kidneys can’t cope with too much salt, so don’t add it to your baby’s portion if you’re cooking and avoid giving him processed convenience food and snacks, as they may be high in salt.
- Sugar Don’t encourage your baby’s sweet tooth by giving him sugary foods which could lead to tooth decay. Don’t use honey as a substitute sweetener – it may contain botulism spores which could make your baby very ill.
- Cows’ milk as a main drink while your baby is under one, as it doesn’t contain the nutrients he needs.
- Half-fat milk while your baby is under two, as it won’t contain enough fat for him.
- Fruit juice under six months It contains sugars which can contribute to tooth decay and it will also cut into his consumption of milk if he has too much. Once your baby is over six months pure unsweetened fruit juice is a good source of vitamin C but only offer it at mealtimes and dilute it one part juice to ten parts water.
- Other drinks such as fizz, tea, coffee and herbal drinks are not suitable for babies and children.