When & how to introduce your baby to solid foods

Parents are being supported to safely introduce their babies to solid food through a government campaign that promotes NHS advice on weaning.
A baby sitting in a high chair eating food

Lots of parents wonder when and how to start introducing solid foods - with so much conflicting advice available it can be very confusing. You should wait until your baby is around 6 months old - this gives them time to develop properly, so they can cope with solid food.

Why wait until my baby is around 6 months?

  • breast milk or first infant formula provides the energy and nutrients needed until around 6 months (breastfeeding women should consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement)
  • it gives your baby time to develop so they can cope fully with solid foods
  • your baby is more able to feed themselves
  • they'll be better at moving food around their mouth, chewing and swallowing – this may mean they can have mashed, lumpy and finger foods (and may not need smooth, blended foods at all)

What are the signs?

There are 3 clear signs, which, when they appear together from around 6 months of age, show that your baby is ready for their first solid foods, alongside breast milk or first infant formula. They will be able to:

  • stay in a sitting position, holding their head steady
  • coordinate their eyes, hands and mouth so they can look at their food, pick it up and put it in their mouth
  • swallow food (rather than spit it back out)

The following behaviours can be mistaken for signs of being ready for solid foods:

  • chewing fists
  • wanting extra milk feeds
  • waking up in the night (more than usual)

These are normal baby behaviours and not necessarily a sign of hunger, or being ready to start solid food. Starting solid foods will not make them any more likely to sleep through the night. Sometimes a little extra milk will help until they are ready for food.

If your baby was born prematurely, ask your health visitor or GP for advice on when to start weaning.

Looking for information about health and care?

Find advice and information to help you stay well and make decisions about your health and social care support.

Find advice and information