Stage 3 (around 9-12 months)
By this stage, your baby should be having three meals a day, in addition to healthy snacks. Foods should be chopped, mashed or minced and include:
Starchy foods, such as bread, rice, pasta or potatoes – around 2-3 servings per day.
Fruit and vegetables – these can now be given raw or cooked and served with meals or given as finger foods.
Milk and dairy foods (full fat) e.g. cheese, yogurt, fromage frais
One or two servings per day of soft cooked meat, fish, eggs (well cooked) or pulses such as beans or lentils
Foods should ideally be chopped or minced at this stage. It is important that you give your baby lumpier foods to encourage them to learn to chew. Even if your baby doesn’t have any teeth yet, he can still bite and chew. Finger foods are great at this stage for helping your baby learn to chew and feed himself.
It is important to offer your baby a wide range of foods to make sure she gets all the vitamins and minerals she needs. Encouraging your baby to try a wide range of foods will also make her less likely to become a fussy eater later on. You can give two courses at this stage e.g. a savoury course of meat, fish or pulses and vegetables followed by fruit or yogurt/fromage frais.
Red meat, such as pork, beef or lamb, is an excellent source of iron. Pulses, such as beans and lentils, also provide iron but this is less well absorbed. However, vitamin C from fruit, vegetables and potatoes can help your baby to absorb iron from non-meat sources so it is a good idea for fruit and vegetables to be given at mealtimes. Full fat dairy foods should be given as these are a better source of vitamin A.
What to avoid when weaning
The following should be avoided when weaning:
Salt – babies under one year should have less than 1g of salt per day as their kidneys cannot cope with very much salt. Foods prepared at home should have no salt added. While most baby foods do not contain added salt, other processed foods do, so it is important to check the label and avoid foods particularly high in salt.
Sugar – frequently consuming sugar-containing foods and drinks can lead to tooth decay and may encourage a sweet tooth. Therefore avoid adding sugar to foods, as well as giving too many sweet foods such as biscuits and sweet desserts during weaning.
Honey – honey should not be given to babies under one year because there is a risk it can contain bacteria that can cause a serious illness called infant botulism.
Shark, marlin and swordfish – these types of fish should not be given to babies because the levels of mercury they sometimes contain can affect the developing nervous system.
Raw eggs – eggs should be cooked until the white and yolk are solid. Avoid any foods containing raw or partially cooked eggs.
Whole nuts - should not be given to children under age 5 because of the risk of choking.
Weaning onto a vegetarian diet
With appropriate care, a varied vegetarian diet can provide all the nutrients your baby needs for growth and development. The principles of weaning are the same for vegetarian as non-vegetarian infants. However, a vegetarian weaning diet is likely to provide less energy and iron (and more fibre) compared, to a non-vegetarian weaning diet.
It is important that you give your baby other sources of the nutrients that would be provided by meat or fish. You should give pulses (e.g. beans, lentils, chick peas) or other meat alternatives, such as eggs or tofu, twice per day. It is also a good idea to give fruit and vegetables alongside meat alternatives, as the vitamin C will help your baby to absorb more iron.
Vegan diets, which provide no foods of animal origin, are not recommended for young babies as it is difficult for them to obtain all the energy and nutrients they need. If a vegan diet is followed, then you should take extra care in planning and extra supplements may be needed. It is particularly important to ensure that babies weaned onto a vegan diet obtain enough iron, calcium, vitamin B12 and vitamin D through dietary sources (including fortified foods) or a supplement.