Frequently Asked Questions

Whatever stage of the weaning process your baby is currently at, we know it’s a new experience for both of you. That’s why we’ve used our 30 years of expertise to bring you this list of the most frequently asked questions that weaning parents have asked us. We hope they help!
Q:

Can I give my baby biscuits or rusks at 8 months?

You should avoid giving your baby sweet biscuits or rusks as finger food - they may get into a habit of expecting sweet snacks. Try slices of peeled apples, banana, fingers of toast or bread, sticks of carrots, bread sticks, cheese cubes. Never leave your baby alone when eating.
Q:

Do I need to give my baby a vitamin supplement?

The Department of Health and Children recommend that all babies (whether breastfed, bottle-fed or taking solid food), should be given a Vitamin D3 supplement containing 5 micrograms (5ug) of vitamin D3 every day until they are 12 months old. Vitamin D3 is important because it helps our bodies use calcium to build and maintain healthy bones and teeth. The vitamin D3 product you use should be in liquid form suitable for infants and contain only vitamin D3. Products that contain other vitamins as well as vitamin D (such as multivitamin products) should not be used. If your baby has already been prescribed vitamins you should seek the advice of your doctor before giving your baby any additional vitamin products. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and give the correct dose. Consult your pharmacist, nurse, doctor, or dietitian for advice.
Q:

Why are iron-rich foods important during the weaning process?

By 6 months your baby’s natural stores of iron that they are born with are depleted. Iron is very important for your baby’s brain development, so it’s crucial that you include iron-rich foods in their weaning diet. Examples of iron-rich foods are: beef, chicken, lamb, oily fish (e.g. salmon), eggs and dark green leafy vegetables (e.g. broccoli, spinach). See this FAQs section for advice on when to introduce meat, fish and eggs. It’s also good to know that many of Milupa’s cereals at all stages of your baby’s weaning process contain a good source of iron, along with many other nutrients and vitamins.
Q:

What's the best way to heat my baby's food?

You should always heat food properly and then allow it to cool, before feeding your baby. Babies don't normally mind food warm or at room temperature. Heat homemade food using a microwave or in a pan on the hob until it is piping hot the whole way through, stirring well especially if microwaving. Don’t be tempted to warm food partially.

If you’re using jars of baby food, stand them in hot water to heat them up.

Check food is hot all the way through. Then make sure it's not too hot before feeding it to your baby by stirring the food to remove any hot spots.

Never re-heat food more than once and throw away leftovers; food that’s been in contact with your baby’s mouth or cutlery may contain bacteria.

If you’re heating food in advance, don’t leave it to cool at room temperature for too long; bacteria start developing within two hours and multiply rapidly.
Q:

What foods are rich in iron?

Foods such as red meat, poultry, eggs, dark green leafy veg (e.g. broccoli and spinach), oily fish (e.g. salmon, mackerel, trout), iron-fortified cereals and beans are good sources of iron. It is important to feed your baby iron-rich foods from 6 months, as the iron stores that they were born with will have become depleted.
Q:

My baby was born prematurely. When should I start to wean them?

The latest guidelines on weaning healthy premature babies, jointly published in August 2011 by dietitians from the UK and Ireland, state that the weaning process can safely begin somewhere between the ages of 5 months and 8 months from the date of your baby’s birth (in other words, their uncorrected age).

Of course, with those age brackets in mind, what’s also very important is that your baby is showing the signs and skills which should indicate that they’re actually ready themselves to begin the transition to solids.

Your healthcare professional should usually be available for guidance and advice in all aspects of your baby’s growth and development, so if you think that your baby is displaying some or all indications of being ready to wean, contact them for advice.

Q:

Can I feed my baby meat & fish – and when’s it okay to do so?

Meat (especially red meat) and oily fish (e.g. salmon), are a great source of iron and protein, important for your baby’s growth and development. Oily fish in particular is also a great source of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPs). These are important fats that are needed for the development of your baby’s brain, eyes and nervous system.

As soon as your baby is accepting food from a spoon you can start offering meat, poultry and fish (bones removed). Ensure they are in a pureed consistency for the first stage of weaning.

It's also worth noting that initially it's best to feed meat and fish at lunchtime as they are harder to digest which may affect sleep if given in the evening time.
Q:

Is it OK to give my baby eggs – and when can I do so?

Once your baby is over 6 months, eggs are fine to give and a good source of protein and iron. The Department of Health and Children recommend that eggs should not be given to your baby until after they are 6 months old. Make sure that they have been well cooked. You can try them with scrambled, chopped hard-boiled egg or slices of omelette.
Q:

Why is weaning important?

As the days and weeks go by, your baby continues to grow and become more and more active, they will soon reach a stage when they need more nutrients and energy from their diet than they get from milk alone.

Weaning is the gradual introduction of solid foods into your baby’s existing milk-only diet. Thanks to the essential nutrients it provides, milk will still continue to form an important part of your baby’s diet, but in addition to the extra nutrients and energy that the gradual introduction of solids will start giving them, the process of weaning will also start to develop your baby’s speech development muscles, not to mention their nascent social skills and sense of independence.
Q:

Can I give my baby the same food that I feed my older children?

It’s only natural that your older children will want the new baby to quickly become “part of the family” and join in at mealtimes, even wanting to share their food with their new sibling or having him/her eat the same things they do. As for yourself, the temptation may sometimes arise to give in to convenience and give your baby “some of what the others are having” in some form or other. In both cases, it’s vitally important that this doesn’t happen.

Although your baby’s a little person, it can sometimes be easy to forget that they’re not mini adults! Even though one of the signs that they’re ready to begin weaning is by showing an interest in what you’re eating (especially smooth foods like yoghurt), your food may contain levels of salt, sugar, fat or other vitamins and minerals which, while fine for us adults, are far too high for a baby’s small digestive system to process.

Instead, you should only feed them home cooked recipes that are appropriate for their age, or foods tailored specifically for their nutritional requirements and that are appropriate for their age.

Remember not to add salt/sugar to food you make for your baby or give to him or her. And be careful not to give him/her foods that aren't made specifically for babies, such as breakfast cereals and pasta sauces, because these can be high in salt and sugar.
Babies need only a very small amount of salt - less than 1g a day up to 12 months. Their kidneys can't cope with larger amounts of salt.
Babies who are breastfed will get the right amount of salt through breast milk. Infant formula contains a similar amount.

Packet sauces, gravies, adult stock cubes or processed food, are not suitable for babies as they can be high in salt and sugar.
Q:

What foods should I avoid feeding my baby before they reach 12 months?

The following foods should be avoided before your baby is 12 months old:

• Added sugar. It can lead to tooth decay and encourage a sweet tooth.
• Added salt.
• Gravies, stoke cubes and packet/jar sauces, these can have a lot of hidden salt.
• Honey should only be given after 12 months as there is a small risk of botulism.
• Unpasteurised cheese, including soft and mould ripened cheese e.g. brie, blue cheese.
• Avoid whole or chopped nuts until the age of 5 years due to the risk of choking.
• Cow’s milk is not suitable as a drink before 12 months; small amounts may be added to foods.
• Hot spices.
• Eggs should be avoided before 6 months. After 6 months avoid undercooked eggs, cook them until both the yolk and the white of the egg are solid.
• Avoid shell fish until after 12 months.
• Tea, coffee and fizzy drinks should not be given before 12 months, they are not suitable drinks for babies.
• The Department of Health and Children recommend that gluten containing foods should be avoided before six months, e.g. foods such as bread, pasta and gluten containing cereals.* Gluten can be found in wheat, rye, oats and barely.

* More recently a European group of medical experts advise to avoid both early (4 months) and late (≥ 7 months) introduction of gluten and to introduce small amounts of gluten gradually while the infant is still breast-fed.
Q:

When do I move on from puréed foods to more textured varieties?

When your baby has learned to take food easily from the spoon, try slightly stiffer purees by adding less liquid or more ingredients (e.g. mashed potato or baby rice).

The thicker purees will teach your baby to move the food from side to side in the mouth. This is one of the skills needed later on to move food to the gums or teeth at the back of the mouth to gum or chew (at approximately 9 months).

Between 6-9 months, food no longer needs to be of pureed texture but can be minced or mashed with soft lumps, depending how far along the weaning process your baby is.
Q:

My baby doesn’t have any teeth should I hold off from introducing lumpier foods?

No. Babies chew with their gums so there is no need to wait until your baby has teeth to introduce lumpier foods. Chewing and biting skills need to be developed at this stage as these actions encourage and exercise the muscles in the mouth which are important for speech development. It is not a good idea to offer smooth purées for too long, add a little mashed or grated food into his usual purées.

Encourage chewing by giving lumpier foods at mealtimes. Your baby will also enjoy finger food for chewing practice. Try slices of peeled apples, banana, fingers of toast or bread, sticks of carrots, cheese cubes. Never leave your baby alone when eating.
Q:

What is the best drink to give my baby at mealtimes?

Offer sips of cooled previously boiled water from a beaker with meals. If you choose to give pure juice, dilute it one part juice to 4-5 parts cooled previously boiled water and offer only at meal times from a beaker or cup.

If your tap water is not suitable for drinking, even after boiling, you can use bottled water that contains less than 20mg of sodium (Na) per 100ml (always check the label). Bottled water must still be boiled before use.

Tea, fruit drinks and fizzy drinks are unsuitable drinks for babies and children.
Cow’s or goat’s milk is not suitable as a main drink for children under 1 year.

It is important to note that breastmilk/formula milk will still play an important role in your baby’s nutrition during the weaning process.
Q:

My baby's stools have changed, is this normal?

When you begin to spoonfeed your baby, their stools may change in colour and odour. This is perfectly normal.
Q:

Is it better to use fresh fruit and vegetables?

Fresh and frozen varieties are nutritionally equally as good. If using fresh varieties, choose those that are in season at the time.
Q:

What should I do if my baby won’t eat anything for me?

Your baby’s capacity to learn is truly amazing, but with so much going on for them at such a very young age, it’s important to remember that some new skills may take them longer to adapt to, never mind master! The very act of taking food from a spoon, plus all the new tastes and textures that come with it, is one of these skills that may take your baby a while to come round to.

Don’t forget that, especially in the early days of weaning, your baby will only need a few small spoons of puréed solids at each mealtime to get them used to the concept of taking food off the spoon. They don’t need to eat everything you make up for them straight away (although, if you are concerned about their weight gain, you should contact a healthcare professional).

If you find yourself meeting particularly stubborn resistance to weaning, try not to get disheartened; instead, just remember that as with everything where your baby is concerned, this is where it pays to be patient. It could take you up to 10 goes (on different occasions) for your baby to take a particular food off the spoon, but in the end, it’ll be worth it.
Q:

What do I do with a fussy eater?

If your baby is a fussy eater here are some tips to help you:

• Praise your baby when they eat well and don’t get frustrated or angry if your baby doesn’t eat well
• Don’t worry if your baby doesn’t like certain foods, simply leave it for now and try again in a week or so. Babies like familiar foods and sometimes you need to offer a food more than 10 times before your baby will try it
• Set a good example and let your baby see you eating and enjoying a variety of foods
• Don’t worry if your baby doesn’t eat much one day. Appetites vary and what your baby eats over the course of the week is more important.

Q:

Can I freeze weaning food that I make up for future use?

We’re delighted to reassure you that yes, you can freeze plenty of home-cooked weaning food for future mealtimes! It seals in the goodness of your homemade purées. This is a wonderfully time-saving measure, but there are a few safety pointers to remember when freezing and defrosting food for your baby:

• The food must be properly cooled first, then freeze it as soon as possible so that bacteria don’t have a chance to creep in.
• Check your freezer temperature is set to -18°C or below.
• Small plastic tubs with tight-fitting lids or ice cube trays secured inside freezer bags are ideal for storing small portions (you can tap out the cubes into the bags once frozen).
• Label the containers or bags to remind yourself what the food is and when you made it. Never keep anything longer than three months.
• If you’ve fed directly from a bowl, any food left in it may contain germs from your baby’s mouth. So always throw away the food left in the bowl you fed from.
• Never re-freeze meals that have already been frozen.
Q:

How can I look after my baby’s teeth?

It is important to look after your baby’s teeth and gums.

Even before milk teeth have begun to erupt it is good to get into the habit of cleaning your baby’s gums. Wipe your baby’s gums with a soft wet cloth, if your baby is teething, this will also help to soothe painful gums.

The same things that damage our teeth as adults will also damage your baby’s teeth, even if they haven’t appeared yet! Try to avoid giving them sugary snacks (sweets, sweet biscuits, chocolate etc.), even if they’re of a smooth enough consistency for your baby to cope with.

Care for your baby's teeth by cleaning gently each day from the time of their appearance with a small soft brush and tap water. Toothpaste is not recommended for children under 2 years of age. Children over 2 years may use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Adult toothbrushes are not suitable; a toothbrush made solely for babies is required. These toothbrushes should be small enough to fit into your baby’s mouth, with soft bristles to avoid scratching their delicate gums.

Showing a good example is a good way to encourage good dental care, brushing your teeth in front of your baby will encourage them to be more obliging to the brushing of his/her teeth.

Never let your baby fall asleep with a bottle in his/her mouth and never dip your baby’s soother in sugar, honey or anything sweet. Also, try to choose sugar-free medicines whenever you can.

As the “drinks” section of this FAQ will tell you, your baby should not need any liquids other than breast milk or formula, and boiled, then cooled, water, so sweetened drinks should definitely be avoided. However, if you want to, you can give your baby pure fruit juices – but only at mealtimes with food, from a cup only, and in the ratio of one measure of juice to 4 or 5 measures of cooled boiled water. You should never give your baby fruit juice in place of milk, from their bottle or at bedtime.

If you are worried about your baby’s dental health, contact your dentist or healthcare professional for advice.
Q:

Why shouldn't I add salt to my baby's food while cooking?

Too much salt can damage your baby’s immature kidneys. The recommended daily intake for infants up to 12 months is 1g salt (0.4g sodium).
Sodium forms part of salt. To work out how much salt is in something, multiply the sodium content by 2.5. Some foods naturally contain sodium, avoid those with added salt (always check the labels).
Q:

Why should I limit my baby's sugar intake?

Sugar can damage your baby’s teeth and may encourage them to develop a sweet tooth, which could affect their long-term health.
Try to choose foods that are naturally sweet such as fruit, sweet potatoes and carrots.
Keep an eye out for ‘added sugar’ in yoghurts or desserts – choose the ones with the least amounts or no added sugar, and look out for sugar or fruit juice concentrate in savoury foods too. Choose foods made especially for babies when you can, as low sugar/no added sugar products designed for adults often contain artificial sweeteners which should also be avoided.
Q:

How can I prepare my baby's food safely?

Your baby’s immune system isn’t fully developed yet, so even a few germs can upset their tiny tummy. Always wash your hands before and after handling food, especially raw meat.
Use separate chopping boards and knives for raw meat and fish, and vegetables and fruit.
All equipment and surfaces used to prepare and serve your baby’s food, including kitchen work tops, chopping boards, utensils, blenders and highchair should be cleaned thoroughly before and after use.

Don’t forget to wash your baby’s hands before eating too − it’s never too early to establish a good hygiene routine.
Q:

How should I store ready made food such as baby jar meals?

Always check the best before or use by date.
Check the storage instructions on the packaging before freezing leftovers.
Use a clean plastic spoon to transfer a small amount from the jar into your baby’s bowl. You can then safely store the rest of the jar in the fridge, with the lid back on, for up to 48 hours (check the label as some manufacturer’s instructions may differ).
If you feed straight from the jar, any remaining food should be thrown away.
Q:

Should I reduce my baby’s milk intake now that I am spoonfeeding?

The process of weaning your baby onto solid food, takes place gradually starting between 4-6 months and finishing at 12 months of age.

Initially, breastmilk/formula milk remains as the main source of nutrition, providing all the nutrients they need.

Let your baby’s appetite be the guide. The volume taken will gradually go down as the amount of food taken at meal times increases.

It is important to note that breastmilk/formula milk will still play an important role in your baby’s nutrition during the weaning process.
Q:

I am a vegetarian and would like my baby to have a vegetarian diet. Is this possible, and if so, what types of foods should I include in their diet?

Weaning onto a vegetarian diet is certainly possible, although it does require an extra amount of planning to ensure that your baby gets enough energy, protein, vitamins, iron and other minerals that they would otherwise have gotten from meat. So it’s good to know that our entire Milupa range is vegetarian-friendly and that each delicious recipe offers your baby a good source of the vitamins, minerals and nutrition they need. Besides what our range can offer you, here are some other tips for vegetarian weaning:

Firstly, if you are bottle-feeding your baby, consider moving them onto a follow-on milk from six months of age. This will help provide them with the extra iron they’ll require at this stage. The iron in breastmilk is extremely well absorbed compared to any other food/drink.

In terms of foods, meat alternatives will need to be introduced, such as pulses, beans and lentils. You can introduce foods such as: well-cooked eggs (scrambled or hard-boiled); cheese; tahini (sesame seed paste); smooth nut pastes; soya protein; hummus; tofu. You may also be able to give your baby mashed or minced Quorn, but check that the salt content is suitable for your baby’s weaning stage. If in doubt, you can always check with your local healthcare professional, or contact the Spoon by Spoon weaning advice team on freephone 1800 303 541.
Q:

How do I know when my baby is full?

Babies will regulate their own appetite. Watch out for them turning their head away, closing their mouth or getting upset when you try to give them more food - these are all signs that your baby is full.

Milupa Weaning Guide

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recipes and meal plans
in our 8 Month+
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Food & Nutrition
We’ve put together these useful meal planners, popular recipes and Frequently Asked Questions to help you plan for this stage of weaning.