The first time your child tastes food, even if it's only a tiny bit, be ready with the camera! You'll probably be treated to funny faces you've never seen before. Up to now, the only food your baby has tasted is sweet breast milk or baby formula. A new chapter in life is starting!
After six months, you can start offering baby small portions of weaning food to complement the breast milk or formula. This ensures that they get all the necessary nutrients and protection from allergies that breast milk offers.
Read tips on taste portions, purée and finger food.
Start with mild food
The aim of giving your child small tastes is to get him or her used to new flavours and textures. Our brains also need to learn about different foods, so babies may only eat peas for a while, and then only meat for a time. Let baby take as much time as he or she needs.
As well as this, the technique for swallowing more solid food is very different to that used for liquid. So your baby's first meals should consist of simple, soft, smooth food.
Start with food like baby porridge, very smooth fruit purées, mashed potato or parsnip, or use prepared baby food that is suitable for your baby's age.
Continue breastfeeding or bottle-feeding until your baby is eight or nine months old, and offer the food as a supplement. Try ½-2 teaspoonfuls at first, increasing the amount until your baby gets 3–4 teaspoonfuls per meal.
Use a blender or push the food through a fine-mesh sieve with a wooden spoon to purée it. You can add breast milk or formula to ensure that the food is soft and smooth enough for your baby to swallow. You can also freeze home-made food in small portions – make sure you use them within three to four weeks.
If your baby refuses to eat solid food
When you've spent six months drinking only milk, it takes a bit of time to get used to chewing and appreciating new flavours. Some children love their new food straight away, but others are sceptical and require a lot of patience. Try some of the following:
• Give your baby fruit only – or puréed meat or fish. You'll soon find something your baby likes – or perhaps they just needed to be ready to try a new taste, and now you're on the way.
• It can also be easier if the other parent, or someone else your baby does not associate with breastfeeding, offers the food.
If none of these approaches work and your baby still refuses to open their mouth when the spoon comes near, regardless of what is on the spoon, and they are growing and developing normally, just wait a while. Try again later. There's no rush.
Have a look at our nutritional tips for young children and the article on small dinner guests who refuse food.