Weaning your baby

Babies are usually ready to start solids when they are around six months old. This is the time to gradually introduce non-milk foods, a process called 'weaning'.

Guidance for pregnant women and information on what is happening in their regional unit during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak can be found on NI Maternity

Top tips

Some babies adapt to solids more easily than others. So it is worth considering the following advice:

  • start by offering just a few tablespoons of food, once a day
  • heat food thoroughly, allow it to cool and test it before offering it to your baby
  • throw away any food your baby hasn’t eaten – do not reheat it
  • feed at your baby’s pace and allow baby to get used to different tastes and consistencies
  • stay with your baby when they are eating to make sure they don’t choke
  • don’t worry if your baby refuses to take food, they know when they have had enough
  • involve your baby in the process by encouraging them to use their fingers or a spoon to feed themselves
  • use mashed up family food when you can – it will get your baby used to eating what you eat
  • make sure everything you use for feeding your baby is really clean
  • never add any food to your baby’s bottle (this includes rusks) as this can damage teeth and cause choking


Foods to avoid

It’s a good idea to try to introduce your baby to a variety of tastes at an early age. However, there are certain foods that should not be included in their diet.

These include:

  • salty foods such as bacon or sausages – don’t add salt to any foods as a baby’s kidneys are not fully developed and cannot cope with it
  • sugary foods – don’t add sugar to any foods or drinks
  • honey – this is also a sugar and shouldn’t be given to babies under one year old
  • nuts – whole nuts should not be given to children under five years old as these can cause choking

Weaning before six months

Weaning before six months is not recommended. If you wean your baby before six months, there are certain foods to avoid as these can cause allergies. You should never wean your baby before they are four months old (17 weeks).

If you wean your baby before they’re six months old, avoid the following, as they can cause an allergic reaction or contain harmful bacteria:

  • wheat based foods containing gluten (wheat flour, bread, breakfast cereals, rusks)
  • nuts and seeds, including ground nuts
  • fish and shellfish
  • soft and unpasteurised cheeses

Giving your baby more solid foods

You can give your baby almost any home cooked family food as long as it is mashed or pureed and doesn’t have any added salt or sugar.

It is important to offer a range of different solid foods to provide all the vitamins and minerals needed.

These include:

  • starchy foods with every meal, such as potatoes, yams, rice, bread, plantain or unsweetened breakfast cereals
  • fruit and vegetables at two or more meals every day
  • one or two servings of soft cooked meat, fish, well cooked egg, tofu or pulses (beans or lentils) a day

Finger foods

You can encourage your baby to chew and feed themselves even if they have no teeth yet by giving the following finger foods:

  • toast
  • bread crusts
  • pitta bread
  • rice cakes
  • slices of soft fruit like bananas, pears, peaches or melon
  • cooked vegetable pieces like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots or courgette
  • cubes of cheese
  • cooked pasta shapes


Pregnant women, or women trying for a baby, should take daily supplements of folic acid and continue up until the 12th week of pregnancy. All pregnant and breastfeeding women should also take daily vitamin D supplements.

Six months after the birth, if your baby is breastfeeding, you should give them baby vitamin drops containing vitamins A, C and D.

If your baby is bottle fed with infant formula, extra vitamins are already added, so as long as your baby is drinking 500ml (one pint) of formula a day, vitamin drops are not needed. It is a good idea to continue giving children vitamin drops until they are five years old, and it’s particularly important if they are fussy eaters.

Your health visitor can tell you which vitamin drops are suitable. If you are on the Healthy Start scheme, you can claim them free on the Health Service without a prescription.

Vitamin D is also made naturally by the skin when it is exposed to gentle sunlight, so encourage your children to play outside (taking care that they do not get sunburn).

Healthy Start scheme

If you receive Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income related Employment and Support Allowance or Child Tax Credit (without Working Tax Credit) and have a family income of £16,190 or less, you may qualify for free milk, fruit, vegetables and vitamins from the Healthy Start scheme.

Mothers may also get vitamin tablets for themselves containing vitamin D, vitamin C and folic acid. You can also get help from this scheme if you are pregnant and under 18, even if you don't get these benefits or tax credits.

Share this page

What do you want to do?
What is your question about?
Do you want a reply?
Your email address
To reply to you, we need your email address
Your feedback

We will not reply to your feedback.  Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

This feedback form is for issues with the nidirect website only.

You can use it to report a problem or suggest an improvement to a webpage.

If you have a question about a government service or policy, you should contact the relevant government organisation directly as we don’t have access to information about you held by government departments.

You must be aged 13 years or older - if you’re younger, ask someone with parental responsibility to send the feedback for you.

The nidirect privacy notice applies to any information you send on this feedback form.

Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.
Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.

What to do next

Comments or queries about angling can be emailed to anglingcorrespondence@daera-ni.gov.uk 

What to do next

If you have a comment or query about benefits, you will need to contact the government department or agency which handles that benefit.  Contacts for common benefits are listed below.

Carer's Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912

Discretionary support / Short-term benefit advance

Call 0800 587 2750 

Disability Living Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912 
Email dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Employment and Support Allowance

Call 0800 587 1377

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Contact your local Jobs & Benefits office

Personal Independence Payment

Call 0800 587 0932

If your query is about another benefit, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

Comments or queries about the Blue Badge scheme can be emailed to bluebadges@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk or you can also call 0300 200 7818.

What to do next

For queries or advice about careers, contact the Careers Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Child Maintenance, contact the Child Maintenance Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about claiming compensation due to a road problem, contact DFI Roads claim unit.

What to do next

For queries or advice about criminal record checks, email ani@accessni.gov.uk

What to do next

Application and payment queries can be emailed to ema_ni@slc.co.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about employment rights, contact the Labour Relations Agency.

What to do next

For queries or advice about birth, death, marriage and civil partnership certificates and research, contact the General Register Office Northern Ireland (GRONI) by email gro_nisra@finance-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries about:

If your query is about another topic, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

For queries or advice about passports, contact HM Passport Office.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), including parking tickets and bus lane PCNs, email dcu@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about pensions, contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre.

What to do next

If you wish to report a problem with a road or street you can do so online in this section.

If you wish to check on a problem or fault you have already reported, contact DfI Roads.

What to do next

For queries or advice about historical, social or cultural records relating to Northern Ireland, use the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) enquiry service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about rates, email:

For queries or advice about property valuation, email:

For queries or advice about land registry, email:

For mapping queries, email:

What to do next

For queries or advice about  60+ and Senior Citizen SmartPasses (which can be used to get concessionary travel on public transport), contact Smartpass - Translink.