What food can my baby have while weaning?

Cartoon of dad and baby eating together

Find out what foods to use first when weaning a premature baby, and how to introduce more foods.

Make sure you talk to your health professional about any additional nutritional needs your baby may have, especially if they were born very early.

Home cooked or shop bought food?

If possible, it is best to try and use as much home-prepared food as possible. This makes it easier to make sure the food has all the nutrients your baby needs.

If you do use any shop-bought baby foods, make sure to check the ingredients.

Baby food should contain protein, and not have any added salt or sugars.

Shop-bought foods are usually sold in different age ranges. This can be confusing if your baby was born early, as you might not know which to use. This might involve trying a few different options, and asking a health professional for advice based on your baby's needs.

You do not have to prepare a whole meal for your baby. It might be easier to choose one food to try first and see how it goes. It can also be helpful to try a different type of food every couple of days.

Some health professionals say it is best to try savoury foods first, and move onto sweeter flavours once they are eating meals. This is because savoury food is generally more nutritious.

Our top tip is to make and freeze purees in ice cube trays so you have small portions of a variety of flavours ready on hand for whenever they might seem interested.

Michelle, mum to Chloe

Introducing more foods

After the first few weeks, you can introduce a wider range of foods and, if you have started with soft pureed food, you can introduce more soft lumps.

If you have been feeding your baby with a spoon, you can start to encourage them to feed themselves using their hands. This is sometimes called finger feeding.

Vitamins and iron

It is particularly important for premature babies to have enough nutrients in their diet as they grow. It is important that key food groups such as protein and nutrients like iron are maintained at a healthy level.

It may be recommended that your child takes supplements such as vitamins C, B12 and D, and/or protein, iron, zinc and/or calcium supplements.

Continuing with milk feeding whilst starting weaning will help to maintain some of these nutrients in your baby’s diet.

Some ideas for foods you might like to try are:

Remember, babies don't necessarily need bland food. It is good to introduce them to different flavours and textures. It’s important that meals contain a variety of foods to make sure your baby is getting different nutrients.

Some ideas of ingredients you can begin to introduce are:

Vegetarian and vegan diets

If you would like to give your baby a vegetarian or vegan diet, you should speak directly with your health professional.

This is so they can help you make sure that their diet will still be balanced in key areas such as protein, iron, calcium, vitamins and minerals.

It's particularly important to make sure your baby gets enough vitamins B12, D and iron if you give them a vegan diet.

Don't be scared to try new flavours! My little one loves trying something new!

Alison, mum to Noah

Avoid low fat options

Low fat options of foods such as butter, yogurt, cheese and oils are generally not recommended for babies and small children. This is because they contain less energy, and often much more sugar.