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:
Local services and information
- Read our pick up the cup leaflet
- Find information and support about starting solid foods and healthy eating
- Local infant feeding information and advice leaflet
- Parenting and mental health support for children, young people and their families
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.
- To find your local participating children’s centre, please visit: Alexandra Rose Charity - children’s centres in Hackney
- Rose Vouchers can be spent with the market traders and greengrocers listed on Alexandra Rose Charity – Markets
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.
- Find information about free vitamins and food vouchers in Hackney and City
- Find out about Hackney Food Bank
Feeding and growth
- Introducing solid foods booklet
- Food preparation tips to reduce choking risk (NHS)
- Start 4 Life weaning hub (NHS)
- Your baby's first solid foods (NHS)
- Eating well for infants and new mums booklets (First Steps Nutrition)
- Growing up with healthy teeth film (HENRY)
- Your babies height and weight (NHS)
- Healthy eating Right from the start film (HENRY)
- Fussy eating (HENRY)
- Dinner chat - mealtime film
- See and eat resources ideas
General learning and play ideas for babies 6-9 months
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