Healthy Eating

If your child is receiving bottle feeds, we ask that you provide your child’s preferred feeding bottle, which we clearly label. All bottles are stored and handled in accordance with Department of Health guidelines. Fresh drinking water is provided and accessible throughout the day.

Each of our nurseries has been awarded a 5 by The Environmental Health Department at Salford City Council.  Giving our children the best possible start in life begins with helping them to make healthy choices. Our nursery cooks work alongside the staff, children and families to develop carefully planned 4 weekly seasonal menus that reflect
a healthy balanced diet, introducing new foods and ingredients. Meal times are social occasions that celebrate different cultures, faiths and celebrations to promote positive eating practices and provide your child with the energy and nutrition they require to enjoy their day with us.

Weaning

What is weaning?

Introducing your baby to solid foods, also referred to as weaning or complementary feeding, starts when your baby is around 6 months old. Your baby should be introduced to a varied diet, alongside their usual breast milk or first infant formula.

It can be confusing knowing when and how to start introducing solid foods. This information will you through the weaning journey and explain what it all means. We’ve got expert NHS advice, helpful tips and lots of simple, healthy weaning recipe and meal ideas.

Getting ready

By the time baby is around 6 months old, they need more than breast milk or first infant formula to meet their needs. At this stage they need solid foods as well – not as a replacement, but alongside their usual breast milk or first infant formula (which is why it is known as ‘complementary feeding’). Weaning teaches the baby how to move solid food around their mouth, chew and swallow solid foods.

How much will they eat?

How much a baby eats depends on their appetite, so let the baby guide you on how much food they need – never force them to eat. In the same way that you follow the baby’s cues when offering them breast or bottle feeds, be responsive when giving them solid foods, and learn to recognise when they are hungry and when they have had enough.

Is there a good time of day?

The best time of day is one that suits you both, when you don’t feel rushed and when baby is not too tired. Don’t forget eating is a whole new skill and some babies take to it sooner than others. Allow plenty of time and go at baby’s pace – stop when they show signs that they have had enough.

Fussy eater?

It may take 10 or more tries to get baby used to new foods, flavours and textures. There will be days when they eat more, some when they eat less and then days when they reject everything. Don’t worry – this is perfectly normal. Be patient and keep offering a variety of foods, even the ones they don’t seem to like, and let them get used to them in their own time.

What you need – suggestions to get started

  • High chair – baby needs to be sitting safely and strapped in, in an upright position so that they can swallow properly.
  • First cup – encourage the baby to sip water from a cup with their meals (instead of a bottle). Open cups or free flow cups (without a valve) help baby learn to sip and is better for their teeth.
  • Spoons – soft weaning spoons, usually made of rubber or plastic, are easier for baby’s gums
  • Plastic bowls – ideally the ones with a suction base, otherwise they’re likely to end up on the floor!
  • Ice cube trays – very useful for batch cooking and freezing small portions
  • Bibs – easy to clean plastic or pelican bibs are best in the beginning
  • Messy mat – under the high chair, handy for messy eaters!

Vegetarian or vegan diets

Advice on introducing solid foods from around 6 months is the same for vegetarian and vegan babies, as it is for non-vegetarian babies.

Babies and young children on a vegetarian or vegan diet can get the energy and most of the nutrients they need to grow and develop from a well-planned, varied and balanced diet. It’s important to remember that cows’ milk and dairy foods are good sources of nutrients, so don’t cut them out of your child’s diet without first speaking to a GP or dietitian – they can advise you on suitable milk alternatives.

Your baby might also need specific supplements in addition to the usual vitamin supplements recommended for all babies. Babies who have a vegan diet or a vegetarian diet that doesn’t include dairy or eggs, need a supplement containing vitamin B12, or foods with fortified B12. Ask a health professional for advice.

Infant formula (based on either cows’ milk or goats’ milk) is the only suitable alternative to breast milk for babies under 12 months old. Soya-based formula should only be used on medical advice.

From the age of 1, you can give your baby unsweetened, calcium-fortified, plant-based drinks (such as soya, oat and almond drinks) as part of a healthy balanced diet. Introduce plant-based drinks one at a time, in very small amounts so you can spot any allergic reaction.

Vitamins

From 6 months to 5 years, it’s recommended that all babies and children are given vitamin A, C and D every day. It’s also recommended that breastfed babies are given a daily vitamin D supplement from birth – whether or not you’re taking a supplement containing vitamin D yourself.
Babies having 500ml (about a pint) or more of first infant formula a day shouldn’t be given vitamin supplements. This is because first infant formula already contains vitamin D and other nutrients.

Getting ready – ready or not?

Lots of parents wonder when and how to start introducing solid foods – with so much conflicting advice available it can be very confusing. You should wait until your baby is around 6 months old – this gives them time to develop properly, so they can cope with solid food.

Why wait until my baby is around 6 months?

  • if you’re breastfeeding – this is the best food your baby can have during the first 6 months (babies who are not breastfed are more likely to get infections)
  • breast milk or first infant formula provides the energy and nutrients needed until around 6 months (breastfeeding women should consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement)
  • it gives your baby time to develop so they can cope fully with solid foods
  • your baby is more able to feed themselves
  • they’ll be better at moving food around their mouth, chewing and swallowing – this may mean they can have mashed, lumpy and finger foods (and may not need smooth, blended foods at all)

What are the signs?

There are 3 clear signs, which, when they appear together from around 6 months of age, show that your baby is ready for their first solid foods, alongside breast milk or first infant formula. They will be able to:

  • stay in a sitting position, holding their head steady
  • coordinate their eyes, hands and mouth so they can look at their food, pick it up and put it in their mouth
  • swallow food (rather than spit it back out)The following behaviours can be mistaken for signs of being ready for solid foods:
  • chewing fists
  • wanting extra milk feeds
  • waking up in the night (more than usual)

These are normal baby behaviours and not necessarily a sign of hunger, or being ready to start solid food. Starting solid foods will not make them any more likely to sleep through the night. Sometimes a little extra milk will help until they are ready for food.

If baby was born prematurely, ask a health visitor or GP for advice on when to start weaning.

What to feed baby
From around 6 months

To start with, your baby only needs a small amount of solid food, once a day, at a time that suits you both.

You can start weaning with single vegetables and fruits – try blended, mashed, or soft cooked sticks of parsnip, broccoli, potato, yam, sweet potato, carrot, apple or pear. You could also try baby rice mixed with your baby’s usual milk. Make sure any cooked food has cooled right down before offering it to your baby.

It’s important to introduce foods that can trigger allergic reactions one at a time, in very small amounts, so that you can spot any reaction. These foods can be introduced from around 6 months as part of your baby’s diet, just like any other foods:

  • cows’ milk (in cooking or mixed with food)
  • eggs (eggs without a red lion stamp should not be eaten raw or lightly cooked)
  • foods that contain gluten, including wheat, barley and rye
  • nuts and peanuts (serve them crushed or ground)
  • seeds (serve them crushed or ground)
  • soya
  • shellfish (don’t serve raw or lightly cooked)
  • fish

Once introduced and if tolerated, keep offering those foods as part of your baby’s usual diet (to minimise the risk of allergy). Read more about food allergies and what signs to look out for.

Food groups

Include vegetables that aren’t so sweet, such as broccoli, cauliflower and spinach – this will help your baby get used to a range of flavours (rather than just the sweeter ones like carrots and sweet potato). This can help prevent them being fussy eaters as they grow up.

Remember, babies don’t need salt or sugar added to their food (or cooking water). Babies shouldn’t eat salty foods as it isn’t good for their kidneys and sugar can cause tooth decay.

Vegetables

Cook to soften them, then mash or blend veggies to a suitable texture for your baby – or give them as finger foods. Offer a variety including ones with bitter flavours:

  • broccoli parsnips peppers
  • peas cauliflower swede
  • spinach green beans courgette
  • asparagus kale carrots
  • avocado butternut squash cabbage

Fruit

Mash or blend soft ripe fruits to a suitable texture for your baby, or give them as finger foods. Harder fruits will need to be cooked to soften them. Wash and remove any pips, stones and hard skin. Fruit includes:

  • Bananas blueberries kiwi
  • Oranges apples raspberries
  • Mango nectarines pears
  • Strawberries pineapple papaya
  • Melon peach plums

Starchy foods

These can be cooked, where necessary, and mashed or blended to a suitable texture for your baby or offered as finger foods. Cereals can be mixed with breast milk or first infant formula – or with pasteurised whole (full-fat) cows’ milk (or goats’ or sheep’s milk) if your baby is over 6 months old. Starchy foods include:

  • Potato sweet potato rice
  • baby rice pasta porridge
  • oat oatmeal cornmeal
  • maize millet quinoa
  • toast bread chapatti

Protein foods

This food group includes meat, fish, eggs, beans and pulses and is suitable from around 6 months.

As well as giving your baby protein, these foods contain other useful nutrients, such as iron and zinc, which are important for babies.
Eggs produced under the British Lion Code of Practice (stamped with the red lion) are considered very low risk for salmonella, and safe for babies and toddlers to eat raw or partially cooked. Protein foods include:

  • Chicken turkey beef
  • Lamb pork fish (no bones)
  • Egg lentils beans
  • Tofu pulses, such as chickpeas

Dairy

Pasteurised dairy foods such as pasteurised full-fat yoghurt and cheese are suitable foods for your baby from around 6 months.

Full-fat, unsweetened or plain yoghurts are a good choice because they don’t contain added sugars. Whole pasteurised (full-fat) cows’ milk, or goats’ or sheep’s milk, can be used in cooking or mixed with food from around 6 months old, but not as a drink until your baby is 12 months.

Eggs produced under the British Lion Code of Practice (stamped with the red lion) are considered very low risk for salmonella, and safe for babies and toddlers to eat raw or partially cooked. Read about the healthy way to eat eggs.

Smooth or lumpy?

To help your baby get used to different textures and tastes quickly, try moving on to mashed and finger foods (from purées or blended) as soon as they’re ready. This helps them learn how to chew, move solid food around their mouth and swallow solid foods. Give your baby a spoon and let them try feeding themselves – you might need to stick a mat under the highchair though!

Babies take different amounts of time to get used to lumps, but it’s an important skill they need to learn. Just keep offering them lumpy textures from around 6 to 7 months, and stay with them so you can be sure they are swallowing it safely.

What is baby-led weaning?

Baby-led weaning means offering your baby only finger foods and letting them feed themselves from the start (rather than spoon feeding them puréed or mashed foods). You can offer a range of small, finger-sized pieces of food.
Some parents prefer baby-led weaning to spoon feeding, while others combine a bit of both. There’s no right or wrong way – the most important thing is that your baby eats a wide variety of food and gets all the nutrients they need.

Should I still give my baby breast milk or first infant formula?

Yes. To begin with they will still be getting most of their energy and nutrients from breast milk or first infant formula. Breast milk or first infant formula should be their main drink during the first year, you can continue breastfeeding for as long as you both want. Remember your baby’s tummy is tiny and fills up quickly – so offer milk feeds after solids.

Drinks?

During meal times, offer your baby sips of water from an open or free-flow cup. Using an open cup, or a free-flow cup without a valve, will help your baby learn to sip and is better for your baby’s teeth.

If your baby is younger than 6 months, it’s important to sterilise the water by boiling it first and then letting it cool right down.

Sweet drinks like squash, fizzy drinks, milkshakes and fruit juice can have lots of sugar, so avoid these to help prevent tooth decay – even baby and toddler drinks can be sugary.

Cows’ milk is not a suitable drink until your baby is 12 months old, but it can be used in cooking or mixed with food from 6 months of age.

7 – 9 months

By now, your baby will have had some good practice learning how to eat! Eat together as much as possible – they learn a lot from watching you.

Your baby will gradually move towards eating 3 meals a day (breakfast, lunch and tea). Offering a wide variety of different foods is important to ensure they get enough energy and nutrients (such as iron). Babies don’t need salt or sugar added to their food (or cooking water) – salty food isn’t good for their kidneys and sugar can cause tooth decay.

Remember, it may take 10 tries or even more for your baby to get used to new foods, flavours and textures. There’ll be days when they eat more, some when they eat less, and then days when they reject everything! Don’t worry – this is perfectly normal. Just be patient, keep offering a variety of foods, even the ones they don’t seem to like, and let them get used to it in their own time.

Babies under 12 months don’t need snacks, if you think your baby is hungry in between meals, offer extra milk feeds instead.

Food groups
Vegetables

Try to move your baby on to mashed, lumpy foods and finger foods as soon as they can manage them. Cook veggies to soften them, where necessary, then mash or blend them to a suitable texture for your baby – or give them as finger foods.

Fruit

Mash or blend soft ripe fruits to a suitable texture for your baby, or give them as finger foods. Harder fruits will need to be cooked to soften them. Wash and remove any pips, stones and hard skin.

Starchy foods

These can be cooked, where necessary, and mashed or blended to a suitable texture. Cereals can be mixed with breast milk or first infant formula – or with pasteurised whole (full-fat) cows’ milk (or goats’ or sheep’s milk) once your baby is over 6 months old.

Protein foods

This food group includes meat, fish, eggs, beans and pulses and is suitable from around 6 months.

As well as giving your baby protein, these foods contain other useful nutrients, such as iron and zinc, which are important for babies.

Eggs produced under the British Lion Code of Practice (stamped with the red lion) are considered very low risk for salmonella, and safe for babies and toddlers to eat raw or partially cooked.

Dairy

Pasteurised dairy foods such as pasteurised full-fat yoghurt and cheese are suitable foods for your baby from around 6 months.

Full-fat, unsweetened or plain yoghurts are a good choice because they don’t contain added sugars. Whole pasteurised (full-fat) cows’ milk, or goats’ or sheep’s milk, can be used in cooking or mixed with food from around 6 months old, but not as a drink until your baby is 12 months.

Eggs produced under the British Lion Code of Practice (stamped with the red lion) are considered very low risk for salmonella, and safe for babies and toddlers to eat raw or partially cooked. Read about the healthy way to eat eggs.

Smooth or lumpy?

Hopefully your baby will now be more confident exploring new textures. Offer more mashed, lumpier foods as well as a variety of finger foods. Giving your baby finger foods helps them learn to feed themselves, develop hand-eye co-ordination and learn to bite off, chew and swallow small pieces of soft food.

Babies take different amounts of time to get used to lumps, but it’s an important skill they need to learn. Just keep offering them lumpy textures and finger foods and stay with them so you can be sure they are swallowing it safely.

Should I still give my baby breast milk or first infant formula?
Yes. Breast milk or first infant formula is still important for energy and nutrients during the first year, and should be their main drink until 12 months. You can continue breastfeeding for as long as you both want. As time goes on and your baby eats more solids, they may naturally want less breast milk or first infant formula.

If you’re breastfeeding, your baby will adapt their feeds according to how much food they’re having. Formula-fed babies may need around 600ml of milk a day, but just use this as a guide. Remember your baby’s tummy is tiny and fills up quickly, so offer milk feeds after solids and don’t force them to finish the bottle.

Drinks?

During meal times, offer your baby sips of water from an open cup or a free-flow cup. Learning to sip water is a new skill and better (than sucking from a bottle) for your baby’s growing teeth.

Sweet drinks like squash, fizzy drinks, milkshakes and fruit juice can have lots of sugar, so avoid these to help prevent tooth decay – even baby and toddler drinks can be sugary.

10 – 12 months

Your baby should now be used to having 3 meals a day – breakfast, lunch and tea – in addition to their milk feeds.

Lunch and tea can include a main course and a pudding (such as fruit or unsweetened yoghurt). Try to eat together as much as possible, babies learn from watching you eat.

Remember, your baby does not need salt or sugar added to their food or cooking water. Babies shouldn’t eat salt as it isn’t good for their kidneys and sugar can cause tooth decay.

Food groups
Vegetables

Your baby should now be able to manage mashed, lumpy, chopped and finger foods. Cook veggies to soften them, where necessary, and offer them as chopped or finger foods. Offer a variety of vegetables, including ones with bitter flavours.

Fruit

Your baby should now be able to manage mashed, lumpy, chopped and finger foods. Wash fruit and remove any pips, stones or hard skin – chop the fruit up or offer as a finger food.

Starchy foods

These can be cooked, where necessary, and offered as mashed, chopped or finger foods. Cereals can be mixed with breast milk or first infant formula – or with pasteurised whole (full-fat) cows’ milk (or goats’ or sheep’s milk) once your baby is over 6 months old.

Protein foods

This food group includes meat, fish, eggs, beans and pulses and is suitable from around six months.

As well as giving your baby protein, these foods contain other useful nutrients, such as iron and zinc, which are important for babies.

Eggs produced under the British Lion Code of Practice (stamped with the red lion) are considered very low risk for salmonella, and safe for babies and toddlers to eat raw or partially cooked.

Dairy

Pasteurised dairy foods such as pasteurised full-fat yoghurt and cheese are suitable foods for your baby from around six months.

Full-fat, unsweetened or plain yoghurts are a good choice because they don’t contain added sugars. Whole pasteurised (full-fat) cows’ milk, or goats’ or sheep’s milk, can be used in cooking or mixed with food from around six months old, but not as a drink until your baby is 12 months.

Eggs produced under the British Lion Code of Practice (stamped with the red lion) are considered very low risk for salmonella, and safe for babies and toddlers to eat raw or partially cooked. Read about the healthy way to eat eggs.

Chunky, lumpy and tasty

Your baby should be enjoying a wide range of tastes and textures, with bigger chunks of soft food and a wider variety of finger foods. They should be finding it easier to pick up small pieces of food and feed themselves.

Should I still give my baby breast milk or first infant formula?

Yes. Breast milk or first infant formula is still important for energy and nutrients during the first year, and should be their main drink until 12 months. You can continue breastfeeding for as long as you both want.

At this stage of weaning, your baby may be down to about 3 milk feeds a day. If you’re breastfeeding, your baby will adapt their feeds according to how much food they’re having. If your baby has first infant formula, they may need around 400ml per day, but just use this as a guide.

Drinks?

Your baby should be using their cup with more confidence now, helping themselves to sips of water as and when they need it.

Sweet drinks like squash, fizzy drinks, milkshakes and fruit juice can have lots of sugar so avoid these to help prevent tooth decay – even baby and toddler drinks can be sugary.

12 Months+

Now your toddler is 12 months old, they should be having 3 meals a day. They may also need 2 healthy weaning snacks in between (for example fruit, vegetable sticks, toast, bread or plain yoghurt).

Remember, they don’t need salt or sugar added to their food or cooking water. Children shouldn’t eat salty foods as it isn’t good for their kidneys and sugar can cause tooth decay.

Food groups
Vegetables

Your child should now be able to manage mashed, lumpy, chopped and finger foods. Cook veggies to soften them, where necessary, and offer them as chopped or finger foods. Offer a variety of vegetables, including ones with bitter flavours.

Fruit

Your child should now be able to manage mashed, lumpy, chopped and finger foods. Wash fruit and remove any pips, stones or hard skin – chop the fruit up or offer as a finger food.

Starchy foods

These can be cooked, where necessary, and offered as mashed, chopped or finger foods. Cereals can be mixed with breast milk or with pasteurised whole (full-fat) cows’ milk (or goats’ or sheep’s milk) if your child is over 12 months old.

Protein foods

This food group includes meat, fish, eggs, beans and pulses and is suitable from around six months.

As well as giving your baby protein, these foods contain other useful nutrients, such as iron and zinc, which are important for babies.

Eggs produced under the British Lion Code of Practice (stamped with the red lion) are considered very low risk for salmonella, and safe for babies and toddlers to eat raw or partially cooked.

Dairy

Pasteurised dairy foods such as pasteurised full-fat yoghurt and cheese are suitable foods for your baby from around six months.

Full-fat, unsweetened or plain yoghurts are a good choice because they don’t contain added sugars. Whole pasteurised (full-fat) cows’ milk, or goats’ or sheep’s milk, can be used in cooking or mixed with food from around six months old, but not as a drink until your baby is 12 months.

Eggs produced under the British Lion Code of Practice (stamped with the red lion) are considered very low risk for salmonella, and safe for babies and toddlers to eat raw or partially cooked. Read about the healthy way to eat eggs.

Chunky, lumpy and tasty

Your child is now ready to eat healthier meals with the rest of the family — just in smaller portions and cut up into smaller pieces.

Should still give baby breast milk or first formula?

You can continue as long as you both want. As the child eats more solid foods, the amount of milk they want will decrease. Once they’re 12 months old, first infant formula milk is not needed – toddler milk, growing up or goodnight milks are unnecessary.

Drinks?

Your child will be using their cup with confidence, helping themselves to sips of water as and when they need it. If you’re breastfeeding, they can carry on having breast milk for as long as you like.

Your toddler can also now drink whole cows’ milk and have full-fat dairy products. Choose full fat for children under 2, as they need the extra energy. From 2 years onwards, they can have semi-skimmed milk as long as they’re eating and growing well. From 5 years, 1% or skimmed milk is fine.

Sweet drinks like squash, fizzy drinks, milkshakes and fruit juice can have lots of sugar so avoid these to help prevent tooth decay – even baby and toddler drinks can be sugary.

Safe weaning
Food allergies

Introducing foods that could trigger an allergic reaction:
When you start introducing solid foods to your baby from around 6 months, introduce the foods that can trigger allergic reactions one at a time and in very small amounts so that you can spot any reaction.

These foods can be introduced from around 6 months as part of your baby’s diet, just like any other foods:

  • cows’ milk (in cooking or mixed with food)
  • eggs (eggs without a red lion stamp should not be eaten raw or lightly cooked)
  • foods that contain gluten, including wheat, barley and rye
  • nuts and peanuts (serve them crushed or ground)
  • seeds (serve them crushed or ground)
  • soya
  • shellfish (don’t serve raw or lightly cooked)
  • fish

Once introduced and if tolerated, keep offering those foods as part of your baby’s usual diet (to minimise the risk of allergy). Evidence has shown that delaying introducing peanuts and hens’ eggs after 6-12 months may increase the risk of developing an allergy to these foods.

If your child has a diagnosed food allergy:

If your baby already has a diagnosed food allergy or eczema, or if you have a family history of food allergies, eczema, asthma or hay fever, you may need to be particularly careful when introducing foods, so talk to your GP or health visitor first.

Avoid any food if you’re unsure about the ingredients and you think it may contain something your child is allergic to – please read food labels carefully.

Signs of a food allergy (can include one or more of the following reactions):

  • diarrhoea or vomiting
  • a cough
  • wheezing and shortness of breath
  • itchy throat and tongue
  • itchy skin or rash
  • swollen lips and throat
  • runny or blocked nose
  • sore, red and itchy eyes

In a few cases, foods can cause a severe allergic food reaction (anaphylaxis), which can be life-threatening. Call 999 and get medical help immediately.

Gagging

Your baby may gag when you introduce solid foods. This is because they’re learning to regulate the amount of food they can chew and swallow at one time.

If your baby is gagging, this is what may happen:

  • your baby’s eyes may water.
  • they might push their tongue forward (or out of their mouth).
  • to bring the food forward in their mouth — they might make a retching movement, or they may vomit.

Choking

Choking can happen with hard foods, bones and small round foods that can easily get stuck in the throat. Remember, you should:

  • cut small round foods, like grapes and cherry tomatoes, into small pieces.
  • peel the skin off fruit, vegetables and sausages (though remember that sausages can be high in salt).
  • remove hard pips or stones from fruit.
  • remove bones from meat or fish.
  • soften hard fruit and vegetables (such as carrot and apple) when first given to your baby from around 6 months.
  • whole nuts and peanuts should not be given to children under 5 years old.
  • never give them raw jelly cubes, they can get stuck in the throat.

Make sure your little one is sitting up properly in their high chair, and never leave them while they’re eating.

If you think your child is choking and cannot breathe properly:

  • shout for help.
  • get them out of the high chair.
  • support their chest and chin with one hand and – with the heel of your hand – give 5 sharp blows between the shoulder blades.

Foods to avoid

It’s important to know which foods are safe for your little one. Here’s a list of which ones to avoid and why:

  • sugary snacks: sugar can cause tooth decay. You don’t need to add sugar to your baby’s food either.
  • raw jelly cubes: can get stuck in the throat.
  • whole nuts and peanuts: should not be given to children under 5 years old.
  • honey: avoid honey until your baby is 12 months old – it contains bacteria that can lead to infant botulism, a serious illness that can make your baby very unwell.
  • salty foods: like bacon, sausages, chips with extra salt, crackers, crisps, ready meals, takeaways, gravy and meals made with stock cubes. Babies shouldn’t eat salty foods as it isn’t good for their kidneys, there’s no need to add salt to their food either.
  • soft cheeses — can contain a bacteria called listeria, these include:
  • mould-ripened soft cheese, such as brie or camembert
  • ripened goats’ milk cheese, such as chévre
  • soft blue-veined cheese, such as roquefort
  • unpasteurised cheeses: due to the risk of listeria. Check the labels to make sure you’re buying cheese made from pasteurised milk.
  • raw shellfish: this can increase the risk of food poisoning. Children should only eat shellfish that has been thoroughly cooked.
  • shark, swordfish or marlin: high levels of mercury in these fish can affect your baby’s growing nervous system.

Drinks to avoid

• fruit juice or smoothies: avoid before 12 months as babies don’t need them. If you do choose to offer them, dilute with water (one part juice to 10 parts water) and offer with a meal in an open cup/free-flow beaker to avoid tooth decay.
• squash, fizzy drinks, flavoured milk: even when diluted, these drinks contain lots of sugar and can cause tooth decay. Diet or reduced-sugar drinks are not recommended for babies and toddlers either. For older babies and toddlers, these drinks can fill your child up so they’re not hungry for healthier food. Instead, offer sips of water from a cup with meals.
• cows’ milk: cows’ milk does not have the right balance of nutrients for babies, so should not be given as a drink before 12 months (however, small amounts can be used in cooking).
• rice drinks: as they may contain too much arsenic. Avoid them altogether until your child is at least 5 years old.
• follow-on formula: follow-on formula, growing up milks and goodnight milks are not suitable for babies under 6 months, and are unnecessary after 6 months.
• unsweetened calcium-fortified, plant-based drinks (such as soya, oat and almond drinks): avoid before your baby is 12 months. These drinks can be given from 12 months as part of a healthy balanced diet. It’s important to remember that cows’ milk and dairy foods are good sources of nutrients, so don’t cut them out of your or your child’s diet without first speaking to a GP or dietitian.
• ‘baby’ and herbal drinks – these usually contain sugars and are not recommended.
• hot drinks – tea and coffee is not suitable for babies or young children.

Preparing food safely

Your little one’s immune system isn’t as strong and developed as yours – which means they’re more vulnerable to infections and bugs (which can lead to food poisoning). So, it’s important to take extra care with hygiene and preparing food safely.

Basic hygiene

Give your hands a good wash before preparing food (and straight after if you’re touching raw meat and fish). Also make sure your baby’s hands are clean too – especially if they’re feeding themselves with finger foods.

The kitchen

Wash all surfaces for preparing or eating food, especially chopping boards, with hot soapy water (and keep pets away from them). Also make sure all bowls and spoons are washed with hot soapy water.

Your tea towels, kitchen cloths or sponges can harbour lots of germs, so wash them regularly.

Food

To avoid food waste, decant the amount of food you think your baby will eat – you can always offer more if they’re still hungry. Throw away any half-eaten portions – never save it.

You should also:

  • wash and peel fruit and raw vegetables.
  • keep raw meat in a container at the bottom of the fridge (to avoid it dripping onto other food).
  • eggs: as long as they have the red lion stamp, your baby can eat them raw (for example in homemade mayonnaise), or lightly cooked – this includes hen, duck, goose or quail eggs. If you can’t see the red lion stamp – cook the egg until the yolk and white are firm.

Make sure any food you cook is piping hot, then let it cool down before serving. Remember to stay with your baby while they’re eating, so you can be sure they are swallowing safely.

Water

If your baby is less than 6 months old, sterilise water by boiling it first and then letting it cool right down. Once your baby is 6 months old, you don’t need to do this anymore.

Storing and reheating food

Storing

If you’re batch cooking, cool the food down (ideally within one to two hours) and then freeze or refrigerate. If you’re keeping it in the fridge – use it within 2 days. With rice, make sure it cools within an hour and then goes straight in the fridge or freezer. Rice kept in the fridge should be eaten within 24 hours – never reheat it more than once.

Defrosting

Defrost frozen food thoroughly before reheating. The safest way to do this is in the fridge overnight, or by defrosting it in the microwave (using the defrost setting).

Reheating

When reheating food, make sure it’s steaming hot all the way through, then let it cool before giving it to your baby. If you’re using a microwave, give it a good stir to get rid of any hot air pockets – always check the temperature before feeding your baby. Any cooked food should only be reheated once.

Food on-the-go

If you take food (such as sandwiches or yoghurts) with you when you go out, it’s a good idea to use a cool bag and frozen bottles of water, or ice blocks, to keep it cold until you’re ready to eat it. If food is not kept cold, it should be eaten as soon as possible (within 4 hours maximum).

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