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Start with one meal a day. Choose a time best for you and your baby. For most babies, first foods are smooth and runny and given by spoon. However if your baby can sit up and bring his or her hands to the mouth, allow him or her to try self-feeding from the start (see information on finger foods).
Baby rice, puréed fruit and vegetables and meat can all be used as first foods. Start with a few teaspoons and gradually build up the amount.
New foods can be tried within the first week and different ones given every couple of days.
Use home-prepared foods as often as you can. Shop-bought foods can be used as well, but it is best to have a mixture of shop-bought and home prepared food. This will help to introduce the taste of real fruit and vegetables to your baby and help them to like these foods when they are older.
Within one or two weeks you can start to offer two meals a day. Some babies can go faster than this, some slower. During the first months of weaning, milk will continue to be your baby’s major source of food. Use your baby’s usual milk to mix into solids instead of water.
Many vegetables are low in energy so it is good to give them together with a higher energy, starchy vegetable, like potato, sweet potato, yam or cassava.
Cooked and puréed meat or fish can be started from early on and mixed with puréed vegetables and baby rice or potato and your baby’s usual milk.
Mix stewed soft fruit (apple, plum, pear) with pure baby rice and your baby’s usual milk. Remove any fibres and skins if your baby can’t manage them to start with. Mashed ripe avocado and banana are very easy and nutritious first foods.
To begin with, use first-stage meals in jars, pots or dried packs. Meat or fish dishes should contain at least 2.5g of protein per 100g, vegetable savouries should contain at least 2g of protein per 100g, and sweet meals at least 1g of protein per 100g. With dried baby food, look for the amount per 100g of ‘made up’ food, not per 100g of dried food.