Introducing your baby to solid foods – sometimes called weaning or complementary feeding – should start when your baby is around six months old.
It's a really important step in their development, and it can be great fun to explore new flavours and textures together.
To begin with, how much your baby takes is less important than getting them used to the idea of eating. They will still be getting most of their nutrition from breast milk or infant formula.
Babies don't need three meals a day to start with, so you can begin by offering foods at a time that suits you both.
Gradually, you'll be able to increase the amount and variety of food your baby eats, until they can eventually eat the same as the rest of the family, in smaller portions.
Always stay with your baby when they are eating in case they start to choke. Find out how to help a choking child.
Let your baby enjoy touching and holding the food.
Allow your baby to feed themselves, using their fingers, as soon as they show an interest.
Don't force your baby to eat – wait until the next time if they're not interested this time.
If you're using a spoon, wait for your baby to open their mouth before you offer the food. Your baby may like to hold a spoon, too.
Start by offering just a few pieces or teaspoons of food, once a day.
Cool hot food and test it before giving it to your baby.
Don't add salt, sugar or stock cubes to your baby's food or cooking water. See what other foods to avoid giving your baby.
Your baby's first foods can include mashed or soft cooked fruit and vegetables like parsnip, potato, yam, sweet potato, carrot, apple or pear, all cooled before eating. Soft fruits like peach or melon, or baby rice or baby cereal mixed with your baby's usual milk, are good as well.
Keep feeding your baby breast milk or infant formula, too, but don't give them whole cows' milk as a drink until they are one year old.
Finger food is food that is cut up into pieces big enough for your baby to hold in their fist with a bit sticking out. Pieces about the size of your own finger work well. Your baby learns to chew this way. Try grabbable bits of soft, ripe banana or avocado.
Once your baby is used to the foods above, they can have soft cooked meat such as chicken, mashed fish (check very carefully for any bones), pasta, noodles, toast, pieces of chapatti, lentils, rice and mashed hard-boiled eggs. They can also have full-fat dairy products such as yoghurt, fromage frais or custard. Choose products with no added sugar or less sugar. Whole cows' milk can be used in cooking or mixed with food from six months.
Introduce a cup from around six months and offer sips of water with meals. Using an open cup or a free-flow cup without a valve will help your baby learn to sip and is better for their teeth.
The Department of Health recommends that all under-fives are given vitamin supplements containing vitamins A, C and D every day.
Babies who are having more than 500ml (about a pint) of infant formula a day shouldn't be given vitamin supplements because formula is already fortified with nutrients.
Feeding your baby from 8-9 months
Your baby will gradually move towards eating three meals a day. It will be a mixture of soft finger foods, and mashed or chopped foods.
Your baby's diet should consist of a variety of the following: fruit and vegetables; bread, rice, pasta, potatoes and other starchy foods; meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein; and milk and dairy products.