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
Healthy Start vouchers
If you are pregnant or have children under the age of 4 and are receiving certain benefits or are under 18, you may be able to access the Healthy Start vouchers. You can use the vouchers to buy fresh, frozen or tinned fruit and vegetables, fresh, dried or tinned pulses, plain cow's milk and infant formula from any shop or supermarket registered to take part in the scheme.
- From April 2021, the value of Healthy Start vouchers have increased from £3.10 to £4.25. Children under the age of 1 year, receive two vouchers each week worth £8.50
Check the Healthy Start website for more information on how to register and to find out if you are eligible.
A health professional signature is no longer required on a Healthy Start voucher application.
- Access the Healthy Start application form
- Call the Healthy Start voucher helpline on 0345 607 6823 to be sent a form in the post
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
- Start 4 Life weaning
- 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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