Introducing Solid Foods - Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service

Introducing Solid Foods

After around the first 6 months of life your baby will be ready for start of the next phase of their nutritional development.  The current NHS guidelines state that solid food should be introduced at 6 months. This is because at this age your baby’s gut has matured and developmentally they are ready.

If your child is having prescribed milk or has intolerances/allergies it is important to seek health visitor advice before commencing introducing solid foods.

baby eating

Signs of being ready for solid food

There are 3 signs that your baby may be ready to start solid foods:

  1. Your baby has good hand eye coordination – your baby can see, reach and put food to their mouth
  2. They can stay in the sitting position and can hold their head steady
  3. Your baby is able to swallow without pushing food back out of their mouth

Guidance and helpful information

First foods

Baby’s first foods can include mashed or soft cooked fruit and vegetables. You can use a mixture of feeding your baby from a spoon and giving them finger foods to hold and chew. When preparing finger foods a good way to determine the right size is to have a piece big enough to fit into your baby’s fist. It is always best to prepare finger foods length ways into baton sized pieces and cut round foods into quarters (for example, grapes and tomatoes).

Next foods

Once your child has got use to eating they can have soft cooked meats, mashed fish, pasta, toast, noodles, well-cooked eggs, full fat dairy products (such as yogurts and cheese). Food can be full of flavour and textures and the more variety your child has the less likely they are to become fussy.

What to avoid

  • Whole nuts are not recommended for under 5s due to the risk of choking
  • Honey should not be given to children under the age of 1. This is because it contains a bacteria they can be harmful.
  • Low fat foods should not be given as your child needs the vitamins and calories from fat for their growth and development
  • All raw shellfish should be not be given to children as there is a high risk of food poisoning. Some fish such as marlin, shark and swordfish have high mercury levels and can cause damage to children’s nervous system
  • All under-cooked and raw eggs should not be given due to the risk of salmonella poisoning
  • Salt, sugar and saturated fats should be avoided. Sugar can cause tooth decay in young children so it is best to limit sweet treats. Salt can be harmful for the kidneys. Be careful of stocks and gravies as these can be salty. If you share your meal with your child, make sure you have not added salt or sugar

See our Introducing Solid Foods FAQ >