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Weaning your premature baby

You can start your baby on solid foods when they are developmentally ready. Offer them food high in nutrition.

If you have any concerns about feeding or weaning, contact your public health nurse (PHN) or GP.

When your premature baby is ready for solid foods

Every baby will be ready to start solid foods at a slightly different time. 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

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

Solid foods to offer your premature baby

When your baby is ready you can offer solid foods.

Include protein and iron-rich foods in your baby’s diet. Food sources include meat and fish that are blended or minced. Make sure there are no bones in the food.

If you are considering a vegetarian or vegan diet for your baby, talk to your PHN or GP.

Premature babies often have smaller tummies. They need to eat small amounts of food that's high in nutrition and often.

Examples of energy-rich foods include:

  • mashed or blended banana, avocado, sweet potato or potato
  • mashed or blended meat, poultry or fish
  • cereal

You can introduce more textures and self-feeding as your baby's feeding skills progress.

Do not give your baby unsuitable foods or foods that could choke them.

There is no evidence that premature babies are more likely to develop allergies. Follow the advice on food allergies and babies. Talk with your PHN or GP if you have concerns about allergies.

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

Page last reviewed: 8 November 2021
Next review due: 8 November 2024