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Parents encouraged to make a healthy start with weaning


Baby feeding a parent at kitchen table


New parents are being encouraged to make a healthy start with weaning as they're reminded about the importance of waiting until their baby is around six months old before they start introducing solid foods.


Northumberland County Council is supporting a national weaning campaign from the Department for Health and Social Care, called the ‘Better Health Start for Life Introducing Solid Foods’ campaign.


This campaign promotes waiting until your baby is around six months to introduce solid alongside breast milk or infant formula foods. At this stage, they need solid foods as well as - not as a replacement for- their usual breast milk or first infant formula. Weaning teaches your baby how to move solid food around their mouth, chew and swallow solid foods.


Gill O’Neill, Director of Public Health at Northumberland County Council, said: “Weaning is a crucial milestone within the first 1,000 days. The sort of food children like and their eating habits are formed early in life with consequences for a range of health and development outcomes which extend into later life.


“Experts agree that most babies should not start solid foods until they are around six months old, this gives them time to develop properly so they can cope with solid foods. They are also better at moving food around their mouth, chewing and swallowing. It’s a six-month process from milk to solid food and by the time they’re a year old, a child should be eating the family food.”


As part of the campaign, a weaning hub is available on the Better Health Start for Life website to help parents introduce solid foods to their baby. It features NHS-endorsed advice, videos and tips along with simple, healthy recipes.


Northumberland County Councillor Guy Renner-Thompson, cabinet member for Childrens Services, said: “We want to make sure that parents know about all the support and information they need when thinking about introducing their babies to solid food.


“It is important for all children to be a healthy weight and we need to do all we can to support parents to get their child’s diet and eating habits right at the earliest stage – when first introducing solid foods to their babies.


”By providing the right information we can support parents to make informed decisions and get our youngest residents off to the best possible start in life.”


Top Tips for parents include:

  • In the beginning, you only need to give your baby solid foods once a day, at a time that suits you both.

  • Don’t worry if your baby has not eaten much in a meal or a day - what they eat over a week is more important.

  • When your baby's had enough, they will let you know by firmly closing their mouth or turning their head away.

  • Babies learn a lot from watching you eat — sit down together for family mealtimes as much as possible.

  • They might pull funny faces, that does not mean they do not like it – they are just getting used to new tastes and textures.

  • Babies under 12 months do not need snacks. If you think your baby is hungry in between meals, offer extra milk feeds instead.

  • If you need to cool food down quickly, put it in an airtight container and put it sitting in cold water. Keep stirring so it cools throughout.

  • During mealtimes, offer your baby sips of water from an open or free-flow cup.

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