life. If you are breastfeeding, having breast milk alone up to the age of six months will protect your baby against infections. Breast milk will carry on protecting them from infections for as long as you carry on feeding.
Research shows babies can get all the nutrients they need from breast milk or infant formula until they are around six months old. Waiting till then gives their digestive system time to develop fully so it can cope with solid foods. This includes solid foods made into purées and cereals added to milk.
After 6 months:
Your baby's first foods can include mashed or soft cooked fruit and vegetables like parsnip, potato, yam, sweet potato, carrot, apple or pear, all cooled before eating. Soft fruits like peach or melon, or baby rice or baby cereal mixed with your baby's usual milk, are good as well. Keep feeding your baby breast milk or infant formula, too, but don't give them whole cows' milk as a drink until they are one year old.
Once your baby is used to the foods above, they can have soft cooked meat such as chicken, mashed fish (check very carefully for any bones), pasta, noodles, toast, pieces of chapatti, lentils, rice and mashed hard-boiled eggs. They can also have full-fat dairy products such as yoghurt, fromage frais or custard. Choose products with no added sugar or less sugar.
Feeding your baby from 8-9 months
Your baby will gradually move towards eating three meals a day. It will be a mixture of soft finger foods, and mashed or chopped foods.
Your baby's diet should consist of a variety of the following: fruit and vegetables; bread, rice, pasta, potatoes and other starchy foods; meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein; and milk and dairy products.
Your baby's food from 12 months
Your baby will now be eating three meals a day, chopped if necessary, plus breast milk or whole cows' milk and healthier snacks like fruit, vegetable sticks, toast and rice cakes.
They can now drink whole cows' milk. Choose full-fat dairy products as children under two need the extra fat and vitamins found in them. From two years old, if they are a good eater and growing well, they can have semi-skimmed milk
You can give your baby:
Three to four servings a day of starchy food such as potatoes, bread and rice
Three to four servings a day of fruit and vegetables
Two servings a day of meat, fish, eggs, dhal or other pulses (beans and lentils)
Cows' milk can be mixed with food from six months and whole cows' milk can be given as a drink from one year. Semi-skimmed milk can be introduced once your child is two years old, as long as they're a good eater and they have a varied diet. Skimmed and 1% milk aren't suitable for children under five, as they don't contain enough calories.
Breastfeeding is the optimal method of infant feeding and exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first 6 months to ensure babies have the best start in life.
By around 6 months of age, breast or formula milk alone will no longer be sufficient to meet a baby’s nutritional needs and the process of weaning onto solid foods should begin.
The timing of introduction of solids should take into consideration the individual baby’s development as this can vary widely.
Fruit, vegetables and non-wheat cereals are suitable first weaning foods; the amount and variety of foods should gradually be increased to include other types of cereals, dairy foods, meat, fish, eggs and pulses.
From the age of 6 months, infants receiving breast milk as their main drink should be given a supplement (in the form of liquid drops) providing vitamins A, C and D.