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Stages of weaning

The introduction of solids process takes place in 3 stages. It starts with the first spoon feeds at 4 to 6 months.

By 12 months, your baby should be enjoying family meals.

Solid food tastes and feels very different to milk. Your baby may seem to be spitting out the food to begin with. This doesn't mean they don't like it, they're just getting used to the new tastes and textures, the experience of having a spoon in their mouth and learning to swallow.

Refusing new food

Your baby may refuse a new food. If they do, don't force them. Offer another food that they are familiar with and wait 5 to 7 days before offering the refused food again.

Babies and young children may need to be offered a food up to 15 times before they will accept it.

  1. Stage 1: at about 6 months, not before 4 months
  2. Stage 2: between 6 to 9 months
  3. Stage 3: between 9 to 12 months

Stage 1: at about 6 months, not before 4 months

Foods to choose

Good options for this stage are:

  • vegetables made into purée, such as carrot, parsnip, turnip, broccoli, cauliflower, butternut squash and courgette
  • fruit made into a purée, such as banana, apple, pear, peaches, apricots, plums, melon
  • well-cooked meat, poultry and fish - remove all bones - made into a purée
  • cereals such as baby rice

Textures

Start with thin purée which will increase in thickness as your baby gets used to solid food.

Result to aim for

Be led by your baby. Some babies might take more than 1 teaspoon at their first spoon feed. Other babies might take a couple of days to get the hang of it.

  1. Start with 1 teaspoon of food made into a soft smooth purée
  2. Build up to 6 teaspoons at one time
  3. Next, introduce solid food at another mealtime
  4. Progress to 2 to 3 meals per day, with 5 to 10 teaspoons at each meal
  5. Introduce one new food at a time, every 2 to 3 days

Skills learned

  • Taking foods from a spoon.
  • Moving food from the front to the back of mouth for swallowing.
  • Managing increasingly thicker purées.

Suitable drinks

  • Breast milk.
  • Infant formula.
  • Cool, previously boiled water.

Stage 2: between 6 to 9 months

Foods to choose

Include the same food as in stage 1, but now include:

  • well-cooked eggs
  • porridge and breakfast cereals like Weetabix or Ready Brek
  • bread, rice and pasta
  • pasteurised cheese
  • yoghurt
  • meat, poultry, fish, peas, beans and lentils

Pasteurised cow's milk can be used in small amounts to moisten foods.

Textures

  • Thicker purée: add less liquid to purée
  • Mash food with a little liquid
  • Soft, finger food
  • Mix of textures: add a little mashed or grated food into your baby's usual purées

Result to aim for

Be led by your baby, and feed to their appetite. Use these portions sizes as a guide.

  • 3 meals a day, each about 2 to 4 tablespoons of food.
  • 2 to 3 snacks in between main meals.
  • Finger foods.
  • Foods should be offered before milk feed.
  • Some drinks taken from a cup or beaker.

Skills learned

  • Move from thick purées to mashed foods, to foods with soft lumps.
  • Chewing lumps.
  • Beginning to feed themselves with soft finger foods.
  • Drinking from a beaker or cup.

Suitable drinks

  • Breast milk on demand.
  • Infant formula: 3 to 4 feeds a day (approx. 600mls or 21oz in total a day).
  • Cool boiled water.

Stage 3: between 9 to 12 months

Foods to choose

Most family foods are now suitable without added gravies, sauces, salt or sugar.

Textures

  • Lumpy foods.
  • Chopped foods.
  • Harder finger foods.
  • Wide variety of foods and textures.

Result to aim for

Be led by your baby, and feed to their appetite. Use these portions sizes as a guide.

  • 3 meals of about 4 to 6 tablespoons.
  • 2 to 3 snacks.
  • Able to manage more than 2 textures in one meal.
  • All drinks, other than breastfeeds, taken from a cup or beaker.

Skills learned

  • Lumpier textures will help with speech, chewing and increase the variety of your baby's diet in later childhood.
  • Self-feeding.
  • Drinking from a cup.

Suitable drinks

  • Breast milk on demand.
  • Infant formula (maximum 400mls or 14oz a day).
  • Cool boiled water.

Related topic

Food portion sizes for toddlers

page last reviewed: 15/03/2018
next review due: 15/03/2021