Weaning is all about learning and babies only accept and start to enjoy new tastes and textures if they get to try them.
Progressing through the weaning stages
Adapted from Clinical Paediatric Dietetics 3rd ed. 2007
When your little one is confident eating solid food, a variety of foods from four food groups should be included every day, so they get the full range of nutrients. Ideally these nutritious foods should be ones the rest of the family eat too:
The four food groups are:
Starchy foods – potatoes, rice, oats, pasta and other cereals
Meat, fish, eggs, smooth nut butters and pulses such as lentils, dhal, hummus
Fruits and vegetables
Full fat yoghurt and cheese. Full fat milk can also be used during cooking.
Which foods when?
Stage 1: 4 to 6 months
Any of the following foods can be introduced as the first weaning food, but most mothers begin with cereal, root vegetables or fruit, mixed with their baby’s milk.
All cereals such as rice, oats, wheat and corn based
Lean meat, poultry or fish – well cooked
Eggs – well cooked
Dhal, lentils, hummus, chick peas and other pulses
Nuts – ground or as nut butter, e.g. ground almonds and smooth peanut butter
Plain fromage frais and yoghurts
Grated cheese melted onto warm foods.
Begin with a runny purée for the first few tastes. Then move on to thicker purées or well-mashed food as your baby becomes used to taking food from a spoon.
Skills to learn:
Taking food from a spoon
Moving food from the front of the mouth to the back for swallowing
Managing thicker purées and mashed food
Stage 2: 6 to 9 months
You can include all the foods above, and in addition:
Liver – limit to one small serving per week because of high levels of vitamin A.
Mashed food with soft lumps and soft finger foods. Meat may still need to be puréed but can be mashed if it is very soft.
Skills to learn:
Moving lumps around the mouth
Self-feeding using hands and fingers
Sipping from a cup
Examples of soft finger foods
Soft fruit pieces, e.g. mango, melon, banana, soft, ripe pear, peach, papaya and kiwi
Cooked vegetable sticks, e.g. carrot sticks, green beans, courgette sticks, potato and sweet potato
Cooked vegetable pieces, e.g. cauliflower and broccoli florets
Sips of water from a cup at meal times – meals should end with a milk feed or milk pudding
Well-diluted fruit juices from a cup, which aid iron absorption from vegetarian foods.
Stage 3: 9 to 12 months
You can include all the foods above, and family foods that have been prepared without salt or sugar.
Minced and chopped foods, finger foods (such as raw fruit and vegetable sticks) and a variety of family foods, such as sandwiches or toast.
Skills to learn:
Chewing minced and chopped food
Self-feeding attempts with a spoon
After 12 months of age
From the age of one year most toddlers can eat family foods, aiming for a balanced diet. This may include foods that are not recommended in infancy:
Foods preserved with salt, such as bacon and tinned foods with added salt
Unpasteurised soft cheeses
Foods with added sugar – they should be offered only at meal times to avoid dental decay.
You can introduce full-fat cows’ milk into your toddler’s diet at one year. Semi-skimmed milk should not be introduced until your little one is two years old.
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