Your baby is growing and developing everyday and around 6 months old you're probably starting to think about weaning your baby from milk to solid foods.
As your baby continues to grow, they begin to need more nutrients and energy from their diet that can't be provided from milk alone. Weaning is simply the process of moving from an exclusively milk diet to one that includes solid foods. Your baby can still enjoy milk during weaning, and it will still continue to provide important nutrients, but as your baby continues to develop solid foods will become an increasingly important part of their diet.
Weaning is best done gradually, starting with purees and moving on to lumpier textures when your baby is ready, introducing new flavours and combinations as you go. Introducing your baby to a variety of flavours and tastes early on can help to encourage them to enjoy a varied diet and develop positive eating habits.
When to start weaning is individual to your baby's development and how active they are; but this usually occurs around 6 months. As your baby continues to become more active, they may start rolling over, sitting up and supporting their head, swallowing milk (keeping more in their mouth than pushing back out) or showing an interest in putting food or objects in their mouth which can all be signals that they are ready to start weaning.
At first, your baby will still get most of their nutrients from breastmilk or formula milk, so it's less about how much weaning foods they're eating and more about getting them to enjoy it. Find a time that convenient to you both to start introducing weaning foods during the day.
There's no need to add any salt or sugar to your baby's food at this stage - at this age babies should have less than 1g salt a day. Current advice recommends avoiding gluten (found in wheat, rye and barley), cows milk, fish and eggs until your baby is 6 months of age and their immune and digestive system have had time to develop sufficiently.
If you think your baby has a food allergy or interolerance you should speak to your health visitor or GP for advice about the best weaning diet.
As your baby is used to smooth purees and swallowing well you can start introducing soft lumps, mashed textures and new flavours. Including a variety of different foods will help to provide all the vitamins, minerals and energy your baby needs to continue to develop and explore.
Soft textures and mashed lumps help your baby to learn how to chew and get used to different textures in their mouths.
It's important to include foods which are a good source of iron at this stage as the stores your baby was born with are usually used up around 6 months old. So try to introduce a variety of soft cooked meats, cooked beans, green vegetables and fortified soft breakfast cereals (with no added salt or sugar).
Our Stage 2 Tiny Taste Buds meals include soft, mashed texture to help to introduce more flavours to your baby's diet. Find out more here.
As your baby moves towards having more regular meals throughout the day, you can start being even more adventurous with flavours and textures. At this stage, your baby is coping with chunkier pieces, so continue to give them chunks and finger foods to help develop their chewing skills and the muscles in their mouth used for speech.
Include a variety of foods to provide all the energy and nutrients they need to develop - such as soft cereals, full fat yogurts, soft meat and fish (check for any bones) and a variety of vegetables. Fruit sticks and yogurts are great desserts too. Introducing more recipes and meals will help to develop their interests in different flavours, or you can try any of the stage 3 dishes from our Tiny Taste Buds range such as Organic Italian Bean Ragu or Organic Sweet Potato and Beef Casserole.
Once your baby is about a year old, they should be having breakfast, lunch and dinner with healthy snacks in between to keep their energy levels topped up throughout the day and provide all the vitamins and minerals they need. You may find your baby enjoys feeding themselves and is moving closer to eating family meals and meal times.
Your baby's tummy is still much smaller than an adults so don't worry if they're not eating a lot at each meal time. Instead try to give them healthy energy and nutrient dense snacks between meals such a full fat yogurts, rice cakes, sticks of unsalted cheese or fruit and vegetable sticks.
Whole cows milk can be given as a drink from around 1 year old as it's a great source of energy and protein as well as a range of vitamins and minerals. Semi-skimmed milk is much lower in energy and nutrients so isn't advised until your child is at least 2 years old.
All our stage 4 Tiny Taste Buds meals include bite size chunks and start to introduce more complex flavours such as Organic Supergrain Vegetable Risotto and Organic tomato and Chicken Pasta with a Hint of Chilli.
Tiny Taste Buds is a new range of baby food at M&S. The range provides healthy, balanced meals for each stage of your baby's weaning which have been specifically tailored to the nutrition needs of your baby to support their growth and development.
Only the highest quality organic ingredients have been used from each of the different food groups to help introduce new tastes and textures to help your baby develop positive eating habits for the future.
All of our baby foods are Eat Well, made from 100% organic ingredients and have no added sugars, additives and are low in salt. Click here to find out more about the range.
© 2015 Marks and Spencer plc