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.