Weaning your baby onto solid food

When your baby has reached six months of age, they will need other food in addition to breastmilk or infant formula. This is called solid food. Solid food will meet the baby’s growing need for energy, vitamins and minerals. Some babies need solid food slightly earlier.

When can I wean my baby onto solid food?

The age at which it is recommended to wean your baby onto solid food will vary depending on the milk the baby has been consuming. Solid food can be started safely from the age of four months, but no earlier. The baby’s digestive system and kidneys will not be sufficiently developed to cope with solid food before this time.

Breastfed babies

If the baby is exclusively (or nearly exclusively) breastfed and is growing properly, the recommendation is to wait to start weaning onto solid food until the baby is around six months old.

Breastmilk is the best food for babies and babies do not need anything other than breastmilk and vitamin D during the first six months of life, as long as the baby is following their weight curve. Babies that are exclusively breastfed (with vitamin supplements) until the age of six months have better protection against gastrointestinal infections than babies that also consume other food from the age of four months.

If the baby shows signs of needing more food and that they are ready to handle solid food, you can start weaning when your baby is 4-6 months old.

Note: Babies are naturally curious about their surroundings and new objects. A baby showing an interest in other food should therefore not necessarily be interpreted as the baby being ready to start solid food.

It is time to start weaning the baby onto solid food from around the age of six months. Breastmilk will continue to provide at least half of the baby’s energy and nutrient requirements between 6 and 12 months of age. During the second year of life, breastmilk can cover around one third of the child’s energy and nutrient requirements.

Formula-fed babies

If the baby is exclusively (or almost exclusively) formula-fed, the baby should be weaned onto solid food from the age of four months if the baby is ready. This is to ensure that the baby gets used to different flavours. It helps create a good foundation for a varied diet in the future. Infant formula always tastes the same, unlike breastmilk, which takes on the flavours of the food eaten by the mother.

Guidance is available from the health centre

Individual babies and families have different needs and the health centre can provide individual guidance when you are ready to start thinking about solid food. The health centre  provides advice based on the national guidelines for infant nutrition (The Norwegian Directorate of Health, in Norwegian).

For some people, difficulty with breastfeeding can be a reason to wean their baby onto solid food before the age of six months. Most breastfeeding difficulties can be solved, so please ask for help from the health centre.

How do I go about weaning my baby onto solid food?

When you start weaning your baby onto solid food, their body needs to get used to digesting other things than just milk.

Weaning a baby onto solid food must be done slowly and gradually. Breastmilk and infant formula will remain the most important food during the first year. You can continue breastfeeding as often and as much as before and offer other food after breastfeeding. This will help ensure that you can maintain breastmilk production.

Start by offering tiny portions of solid food. The first few meals do not need to be any larger than a teaspoon. You can then increase to two to three teaspoons over the next few days and then a few more teaspoons during a single meal. The amount must be increased in line with your baby’s needs and signals.

When introducing something new, start by offering breastmilk and familiar food at the beginning of the meal. If your baby is hungry, they might be less interested in new food. For babies between six and eight months old, 2-3 meals per day is a good amount to aim for. From the age of nine months, your baby can have 3-4 meals a day, plus 1-2 snacks if necessary. Remember that the portion sizes eaten by babies can seem small. A portion size of around 200 ml is suitable at the age of 8-9 months.

How do I introduce my baby to different foods?

If your baby does not immediately accept new food, you can try offering one teaspoon of familiar food and one teaspoon of unfamiliar food. Alternatively, you can mix some of the unfamiliar food into familiar food and increase the amount over time. You should offer many different foods and continue to offer them many times. If your baby is reluctant to try new foods, wait a few days and try again. Never force your baby to eat.

You can offer many different types of food to your baby, provided that the consistency is made suitable from the time at which you start weaning. To begin with, food should be pureed and almost liquid in consistency. When your baby has become accustomed to pureed food, you can gradually offer firmer and lumpier consistencies. As the baby gets older and learns to chew, you can offer pieces of food that are not pureed.

Babies should have the opportunity to use their senses when introduced to new foods. It is therefore a good idea to take your time so that your baby can see, smell, feel and taste the food. Allow your baby to actively participate in mealtimes. A good combination can be to allow the baby to feed themselves while also offering food on a spoon.

If your family follows a vegetarian or vegan diet, your baby can also follow this diet when you introduce solid food. However, this does require good food knowledge, some extra planning and some vitamin supplements.

Foods you should be cautious about offering to your baby

It can be a good idea to limit or avoid certain foods and products.

How to encourage good digestion and avoid constipation?

All children are different and some have more bowel movements than others. Both frequent and less frequent bowel movements can be normal. When children eat foods they have never tried before, they can easily experience constipation or diarrhoea and this can lead to nappy rash.

Helpful advice to encourage good digestion and prevent constipation

  • Offer your child foods that are high in fibre
  • Offer your child sufficient fluids
  • Encourage your child to be physically active.

Foods that are high in fibre include:

  • porridge, bread and crispbread made from wholemeal flour, oats and grains
  • breakfast cereals made from oats, whole grains, seeds and chopped nuts
  • waffles, pancakes, etc. made from wholemeal flour (fine wholemeal flour)
  • wholegrain pasta and brown rice
  • fruits, berries, vegetables
  • lentils, beans and peas

Avoid white bread, biscuits, cakes, white pasta and white rice. These foods can cause constipation.

You can give your child malt extract or prune juice if they still suffer from constipation after trying the recommendations above. Talk to the health centre if the problem persists.

How to prevent young children from getting overweight?

If your baby is exclusively breastfed, there should be no concerns if your baby gains a lot of weight. Infants often get chubby from breastmilk without this entailing a risk of subsequently becoming overweight. On the contrary, breastfeeding can help prevent your baby from becoming overweight later on in childhood.

If your baby gains a lot of weight after you have introduced solid food, you need to make sure to offer healthy and varied foods in the right quantities. Do not put your child on a diet. As your child becomes more physically active, any weight gain will slow down.

Advice for healthy growth and weight development in infants

  • Give your baby breastmilk for the entire first year of their life, preferably longer
  • If you use infant formula, make sure that the powder quantity is in accordance with the instructions and never dilute
  • Pay attention to your baby’s signals and do not force your baby to eat more than they need
  • Offer water to quench thirst after your child has started on solid foods and drinks other than breastmilk and infant formula
  • Children under the age of one should not consume cow’s milk, plant-based drinks, juice, squash, soft drinks or tea
  • Offer fresh fruits, berries and vegetables both at mealtimes and as snacks
  • Offer your child foods that are high in fibre
  • Avoid sweet and fatty foods such as cakes, biscuits, ice cream, snacks and sweet drinks
  • Limit the amount of butter, margarine and cooking oil you use
  • Establish a good routine for meals and bedtimes
  • Encourage physical activity and ensure that your child remains physically active
  • From the time at which your baby turns one year of age, they can eat the same as the rest of the family and adhere to regular dietary advice.

Is it possible to prevent allergies in children?

Babies do not need to start solid foods earlier in order to prevent allergies. Nor is it necessary to postpone the introduction of certain foods or cut out specific foods from your baby’s diet unless an allergy has been diagnosed by a doctor.

It is difficult to predict who will develop allergies. All infants should be offered allergenic foods during their first year of life. This also applies to those with a high risk of developing allergies. In the event of a high risk of developing peanut allergy (if the child suffers from severe eczema and/or egg allergy), the foods should be tried in consultation with the doctor.

Most foods can cause food allergies, but a small number of foods tend to be responsible for most reactions in young children:

  • egg
  • fish
  • milk
  • nuts
  • peanuts
  • shellfish
  • soy
  • wheat

Symptoms of allergies or intolerance may include:

  • whining
  • skin rash
  • airway symptoms

These are common reactions that pass quickly for most people, but sometimes they may indicate that the child is allergic to a certain food.

If a doctor has diagnosed allergies or food intolerances, the foods in question should be avoided. Talk to your public health nurse or doctor if you are planning to eliminate important foods from your child’s diet.

Complementary feeding​. ESPGHAN Position paper, 2017. 

Nasjonal faglig retningslinje for spedbarnsernæring. Helsedirektoratet, 2021.

Content provided by The Norwegian Directorate of Health

The Norwegian Directorate of Health. Weaning your baby onto solid food. [Internet]. Oslo: The Norwegian Directorate of Health; updated Thursday, June 16, 2022 [retrieved Thursday, June 20, 2024]. Available from: https://www.helsenorge.no/en/spedbarn/infant-food-and-breastfeeding/weaning-your-baby-onto-solid-food/

Last updated Thursday, June 16, 2022