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Weaning your premature baby

Premature babies are babies born before 37 weeks. They need foods high in nutrition to help them grow and develop.

Introducing your baby to solid foods is often called 'weaning'.

When to start weaning your premature baby

Babies develop at different stages. Your baby's stage of development is more important than their age.

Start introducing solid foods when your baby shows signs that they are ready.

Your baby must be able to both:

  • sit upright, supported or unsupported
  • hold their head up easily

Your baby may have developed all the skills they need to eat solid foods from a corrected age of about 5 to 6 months.

Corrected age is your baby's age minus the number of weeks or months they were born early. For example, if your 7 month baby was born 2 months early, their corrected age is 5 months.

Premature babies and development

Signs your baby is ready for solid foods

Non-urgent advice: Speak to your GP or public health nurse if:

  • your baby has a corrected age of 7 months and is not showing signs that they are ready to start solid foods

What solid foods to give your premature baby

Premature babies usually have smaller tummies. They need to eat small amounts of nutritious foods often.

Include protein, energy-rich and iron-rich foods in your baby’s diet.

For example:

  • mashed or blended meat or fish that is boneless
  • mashed or blended banana, avocado or potato
  • lentils or beans
  • cereal

There is no evidence that premature babies are more likely to develop allergies.

Food allergies and babies

Nutrients your baby needs

Non-urgent advice: Speak to your public health nurse or GP if:

  • you're considering a vegetarian or vegan diet for your baby
  • you have concerns about allergies

As your baby's feeding skills progress, you can introduce more textures and baby-led weaning.

Weaning tips


Do not give your baby foods that can cause choking

Page last reviewed: 23 May 2023
Next review due: 23 May 2026

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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 8.