According to the Department of Health, 6 months is the best time to start weaning – when your baby needs the extra nutrients and their body is ready to process those all-exciting solids.
Here’s a guide to healthy foods your baby can eat safely and will love trying.
At a glance
- According to the Department of Health, 6 months is the best time to start weaning
- The best foods to try with are those that are easily digested and unlikely to cause an allergic reaction
- Babies love feeding themselves, so offer them finger foods right from the get-go
What foods should I offer my baby at six months?
The best foods are easily digested and unlikely to cause an allergic reaction:
- Baby cereal – those made from oats, barley or quinoa are favoured by dieticians as the fortified iron in these absorbs better than the fortified iron in old fashioned baby rice
- Mashed fruit – like apple, pear or banana
- Mashed vegetables – try carrot, potato, butternut squash, sweet potato and parsnip
- Baby yoghurts and custard – just check the sugar content as some brands load products with sugar
The NHS now advises that babies start with blended, mashed foods rather than purees (although if advised to wean before 6 months, purees are recommended).
Whilst some people worry unnecessarily about the following foods, they can actually be introduced from around 6 months old - Just so long as you introduce these foods in small amounts and one at a time in case they trigger allergies:
- Cow’s milk – mixed with food or used is cooking is fine from around 6 months, but not as a drink until your baby is 12 months
- Eggs – just make sure they have the red lion stamp
- Foods containing gluten – wheat, rye and barley are all fine
- Nuts and peanuts - just make sure they are crushed or ground or in a nut butter
- Seeds – again crushed or ground is fine
- Shellfish – so long as it’s not served raw or lightly cooked
Can babies feed themselves?
Babies love feeding themselves, so offer them finger foods right from the get-go. A lovely strip of omelette, cooked carrot or soft fruit should go down a storm and give them great chewing practice.
How much food does a six-month-old need?
At first, your baby will still get most of their energy and nutrient needs from milk. So just offer one or two teaspoons to get your baby used to tasting and swallowing mashed up foods. It’s all about exploring and learning at this stage – don’t worry about getting them to eat specific amounts.
Go at their pace - even if it’s really pretty slow. It’s going to be madly messy too, but you’ll see some comic facial expressions and the eating is all great practice!
How to avoid choking
As they learn to eat, there’s a small risk of babies choking so watch out for a few foods:
- Hard foods
- Small rounded foods, like grapes
- Foods with skin, like sausages
- Foods with bones
Also, make sure your baby is sitting upright and facing forward, ideally in a highchair. Keep an eye on them, when they’re eating too, in case they struggle to swallow.
What other drinks are good for my six-month-old?
After breast milk or formula, water is your best bet. They really don’t need baby juices or herbal infant drinks.
Should I introduce foods one by one?
It’s best to introduce foods slowly, so you can see which ones might cause your baby discomfort or an allergic reaction.
Your baby’s digestive system is still maturing, so if they don’t digest a certain food easily now, you can still try it again later.
How can I be sure my 6-month-old is getting enough vitamins?
- Breastfed babies – best give your baby vitamin A, C and D drops too
- Formula fed babies – if they’re drinking 500ml or more a day of formula or follow-on milk, they don’t need extra vitamins. If they drink less than that, they’ll need vitamin A, C and D drops
- Babies on a vegan diet - additional vitamin B12 is important. You can get advice on weaning onto a vegetarian or vegan diet from your health visitor or a paediatric dietician.
The charity First Steps Nutrition have a useful downloadable booklet called 'Eating Well: Vegan infants and under 5s'.