When your baby is around six months old they should be introduced to a varied diet of solid food alongside their usual breast milk or formula. Eventually over time your baby will be weaned off of their milk and onto solid foods.
Baby-led weaning (BLW) is when you let your baby feed themselves their food right from the beginning of their weaning journey. Babies are not spoon fed smooth mash or purées (traditional weaning) and go straight on to eating the same foods as the rest of their family.
Alot of people are worried about doing baby-led weaning (BLW) because of the risk of choking. Research has shown that there is no more risk of choking when doing BLW than there is with traditional weaning. Many local childrens centres hold weaning workshops and peadiatric first aid courses. Attending these will help you be more relaxed when you do come to start weaning. If you are unable to attend a first aid class then we would recommend watching peadiatric first aid on YouTube. The more relaxed you are the more relaxed your baby will be. It's also important to know the difference between gagging and choking. We've created a guide to help you spot the difference.
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There are three clear signs, which, when they appear together from around six months of age, show that your baby is ready.
They will be able to:
The following behaviours can be mistaken for signs of being ready for solid foods:
These are normal baby behaviours and not necessarily a sign of hunger, or being ready to start weaning. Starting solid foods will not make them any more likely to sleep through the night.
If your baby was born prematurely, speak to your health visitor or GP for advice on when to start weaning.
It is a personal preference as to what foods you introduce your babies to first. Some like to offer single green vegetables such as steamed broccolli, peas and advocado. Others like to start with a meal option such as breakfast, offering foods such as weetabix, toast and porridge. We've created a helpful guide on different meal plans you could offer your baby to get you started through those first few weeks.
There is a misconception that your baby cannot have cows milk until they are a year old. This is incorrect. Babies can have cows milk from six months old but not as their main drink. They can have it on cereal and it can be used in your cooking but they should only be drinking breast milk or formula as their main drink until they are a year old. It's advised that babies are given full fat cows milk as this contains the fat babies need to help grow healthy bones and teeth. You can still use breast milk or formula on cereal or in cooking if you'd prefer.
Babies should not be given whole nuts due to being a choking hazard (nuts can be given but they need to be crushed or ground) or honey before the age of one, due to the risk of botulism.
Popcorn and boiled sweets should also be avoided due to being a choking hazard.
It's advised that potential allergen foods are given to babies in small doses and at least three days apart from each other. This is for you to be able to spot any allergic reaction and to then be able to identify what caused the reaction.
The top eight allergenic foods in babies are:
If allergies run in the family speak to your health visitor or GP before offering potential allergen foods.
Babies only need a very small amount of salt in their diet and too much salt can affect their kidneys. As salt is added to a lot of the foods you buy, such as bread and baked beans it is easy to have too much.
The maximum recommended amount of salt for babies and toddlers is:
To help you we have found a list of low salt alternatives of some of the everyday products you buy. Click below to check them out.