0 - 6 months

Introducing your baby to solid foods, also referred to as weaning or complementary feeding, starts when your baby is around 6 months old. At around 6 months your baby should be introduced to a varied diet, alongside their usual breast milk or first infant formula. This is also a good time to introduce a cup.

Why is it important?

The introduction of solid foods is recommended from around 6 months because:

  • Breastmilk (or infant formula) can provide all the energy and nutrients a baby needs until about 6 months of age
  • Babies' digestive systems and kidneys are not sufficiently developed until about 6 months
  • Early introduction of solid food may increase the risk of infection and illness
  • The swallowing reflex is not ready to cope with solid food before 6 months

Introducing a cup at around 6 months and stopping the bottle by 1 year has many benefits for your child, these include promoting their self-help skills, establishing healthy eating and drinking habits and reducing the risk of your baby having tooth decay.

Some signs that your baby may be ready for solid foods and drinking from a cup include

  • Sitting up unsupported and holding their head steady
  • Coordinating their eyes, hands and mouth to look at the food, pick it up and put it in their mouth
  • Moving food to the back of their mouth and swallowing it

First point of contact

Your health visitor can provide support and information on starting your baby on solid foods. You can also go to a Starting Solids Parent Workshop. These run regularly across the borough. Contact:

Best Start with HENRY service in City and Hackney

Local services and information

Get help to buy food and milk (NHS Healthy Start scheme)

If you are pregnant or have children under the age of 4 years and are receiving certain benefits or are under 18 years, you may be able to access food from the national Healthy Start scheme. Healthy Start gives eligible families a pre-paid card to buy fresh, frozen or tinned fruit and vegetables, fresh, dried or tinned pulses, plain cow's milk and infant formula.

  • An application for the digital Healthy Start scheme can be made online or by telephone on 0300 330 7010. Press option 3 if you require a translator
  • If you are still receiving paper vouchers, apply for the new digital service as soon as possible. After 31 March 2022, paper vouchers will no longer be issued and paper applications will be discontinued

Rose Vouchers for fruit and veg in Hackney

If you have young children under 5 years old or are pregnant, you may be eligible to receive Rose Vouchers for fruit and veg. You can spend Rose Vouchers on the fruit and vegetables of your choice with participating market traders and greengrocers in Hackney.

Families receive £3 of Rose Vouchers for each child every week, or £6 if the child is under one year old. Rose Vouchers are collected from local children’s centres each week.

Rose Vouchers are available for families on low incomes, including those with no recourse to public funds.

Free vitamins in Hackney and City

Free vitamins are available to help your baby and young children grow up strong and healthy and help you maintain your health during pregnancy and after birth.

If you live in or go to the GP in City and Hackney, free vitamins are available for pregnant women, new mothers and children under 4 years. 

National resources

Feeding and growth


General learning and play ideas for babies 6-9 months


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This page was last modified on: 22 Jun 2022