Once your baby starts eating solids, it’s important they get enough iron as it will help your baby’s brain develop, and boost their learning and energy. It’s also important to see how your baby reacts to certain foods, so you know if they have a food allergy.
By 6 months, your baby will be starting to run low on the stores of iron they were born with. Some iron-rich foods suitable for this age are lamb, beef, chicken, and iron-fortified infant cereal. Foods high in vitamin C, such as fruit and vegetables, help your baby use iron from iron-rich food.
Meat is a good source of protein and iron. While all meats contain iron that your baby can absorb easily, red meat contains more iron than white meat. To prepare meats, cook and purée them.
Add vegetable water, meat juices or water to make them easy to eat. Another way of preparing meat is to freeze uncooked meat and grate the frozen meat into your baby’s raw vegetables before cooking.
Offer your baby meat at least 3–5 times a week, or see below for vegetarian options.
Legumes, cereals, and green leafy vegetables also contain iron. However, the iron in plants (non-haem) is in a different form to the iron in meat (haem). The body cannot use non-haem iron as easily.
Eating foods that are high in vitamin C helps the body to absorb more non-haem iron.
If your baby is having a vegetarian diet, you might like to talk about their diet with your Well Child nurse.
They will help you make sure your baby gets all the vitamins and minerals they need, such as iron and vitamin B12. If you plan a vegetarian diet well, you will be able to look after your baby’s nutrition needs.
Wait until your baby is 7–8 months to give them dairy products such as cheese, yoghurt, and custard in home-cooked foods. However, some cans and jars of bought baby food have these foods in them. This is okay, because the food has been cooked at very high temperatures, making it easier for your baby to digest.
Babies should not have salt, sugar, artificial sweeteners or butter added to their food.
Hold off on feeding honey to your baby until they turn 1. Honey sometimes contains a bacterium that causes serious illness (infant botulism) in babies under 1.
The thought of food allergies can be scary, but there is little proof that you can protect your baby by holding off on giving your baby the foods that most often cause allergies, such as eggs, cows’ milk, fish, shellfish, soy, wheat, or peanuts or other nuts.
A good approach is to introduce one food at a time to your baby, and to add a new food every two to four days. That way, if your baby does react to a food, you’ll be able to work out which food caused the reaction.
If your baby reacts to a food, see your doctor.
If they have a serious reaction (swelling lips, mouth, tongue, face and/or throat, dizziness, difficulty breathing and collapsing) call 111 for an ambulance.
You should read more about food allergies before you start feeding your baby solids.
When your baby starts eating solids, you’ll find their bowel motions (poos) look and smell different. If you’re worried that your baby is constipated (their motions are hard and difficult to pass) read more about baby poos.