Note: The information featured on this page is currently under review, and will be updated in due course. Please ensure that you speak with your health care professional about any queries you may have about the issues covered here.
With a little preparation, meal times can be fun. Don’t plan to offer solids when your baby is likely to be very hungry or tired, or when you are rushed or busy.
If your baby does get very hungry and frustrated, give a little milk first and then try solids. Some babies can become distracted when there is too much going on in the room while they are eating, for example TV or radio. If this is the case, try to have as few distractions as possible.
Playing with food is an important part of learning about it and how to eat it, so giving your baby some food to touch and feel is helpful. Make sure you and your baby are comfortable and dressed for a bit of mess, especially when your baby starts becoming more active at meal times, for example when they begin holding their own spoon and finger feeding.
If possible, choose a place where you don’t mind mess on the floor or furniture. If your baby’s face gets messy, try not to wipe up until the end of the meal.
Positioning your baby for weaning
It is important for your baby to be in a good position to help him or her manage to take food more easily.
Make sure that your baby can bring his or her hands together and that they are upright, well supported and able to hold their head up easily. To avoid accidents, your baby should never be left unattended when eating. Although it is okay to feed your baby in your arms to start with, it is better for their development if they are in a seat later on. Use a detachable car seat or bouncy chair and sit opposite, so you can make eye contact.
If your baby finds it difficult to hold their head up, use a soft, small towel to help keep the head in line with the body. This will help with eating.
If you are seeing a therapist with experience in child development, they will give you advice on the best way to support your baby during weaning.
A high chair with a tray or a seat that attaches to a table is good for feeding, as it encourages your baby to sit upright and feed themselves with their fingers.
Make sure your baby can bring his or her hands together easily to touch food which is in front of them. To avoid your baby slumping when you first start using a high chair, it may help to wrap a towel round their middle or use something else soft and washable. You can also buy separate insert seats or high chair cushions.
Always take your baby out of the high chair if they become upset, as they may be bored or uncomfortable.