Expert advice on introducing solids & the first foods to start with – plus how to prepare them
How & when to start introducing solids
Once your baby is ready for solid food (at around six months unless your healthcare professional suggests otherwise), you can set them on the path to a healthy future just by making the right choices. Try not to get stressed – food should be fun. Even if your baby seems reluctant at first, they’ll soon get the hang of it (and the faces they pull are priceless, so keep your phone to hand!).
Why it matters what you give them
When it comes to introducing solids, natural produce is best. Focus on vegetables, fruit and simple grains such as baby rice. Scientists now agree that our long-term health is at least partly determined by how well we eat in the first 1,000 days of life (from conception to age two), so good nutrition is the gift you can give your baby every day.
Which food to try first
Baby rice has a neutral flavor and soft consistency that’s ideal as a first solid food. Mixed with your baby’s usual milk, it is a way to introduce texture with a familiar taste. Vegetables and fruit will give them their first taste of real flavor, as well as vital vitamins and nutrients. Avoid the temptation to mask bitter foods with sweet ones. "There’s a natural preference for sweet food but persevere with vegetables first," says Boots Parenting Club nutritionist Vicky Pennington. "Begin with a tiny spoonful of a single veggie purée, then try another veg and repeat."
And don’t give up too soon – it can take 10-15 goes before your baby accepts a new taste. Adding a little breastmilk or formula will thin the purée, which your baby may find easier to swallow – plus, it gives them a familiar taste.
Feeding your baby vegetables & fruits – which ones are best?
Often described as nature’s perfect food, avocados are bursting with essential nutrients and healthy fats. It couldn’t be easier to prepare simply mash the buttery flesh with a fork or offer slices if you’re doing baby-led weaning.
Packed with vitamin C, steamed florets make a great finger food for little fists – the stalk makes an ideal handle! Or just mash with a fork and a little milk. Broccoli can be quite bitter for new foodies but give it a go.
Rich in vitamin A, this humble, sweet tasting vegetable is a winner with most weaning babies. Steam batons for baby-led or dice, steam and mash or blend to make a smooth, delicious purée.
With their sweet, nutty flavor, puréed parsnips are usually a smash hit with babies. They are also a good source of fiber and potassium. Simply peel and steam for 10 minutes before mashing or blending with a little milk.
This nutritional powerhouse is stuffed with nutrients such as vitamin C and beta-carotene. It’s one of the most versatile veggies: once your baby has mastered single-flavor purées, you can mix it with a variety of other vegetables, fruits and meat. To prepare, simply steam and mash with a fork or blender. But keep a stash of bibs – the vivid pulp is a tough stain to remove!
A great source of vitamin B, bananas are the perfect starter food. Mash with a fork and add a little milk to thin the consistency – they’re easy to prep when you’re out, too.
Feeding your baby ready-made baby food
There are lots of single vegetable and fruit purées available in jars and pouches. Look out for Stage 1 on the label and don’t stress: government guidelines mean that all ready-made baby food contains no added salt or artificial flavoring. That means they’re an ideal option when time is tight or you’re out and about.