Stage 1 - from birth until around 6 months

Milk-only diet

Whether you choose to breastfeed, use formula, or a bit of both, milk provides all the nutrition your baby needs from birth until around 6 months old.

Breast milk is free, natural and adapts to the changing nutritional needs of your growing baby. It also helps protect your baby from infections, because mum’s antibodies are passed into the milk. It’s convenient as it reduces the need to spend time sterilising bottles and other feeding equipment. In addition, breastfeeding helps the womb return to its normal size and burns calories, so it can help mums get back into shape more quickly after giving birth.

Some mums, however, find breastfeeding difficult. This may be because they are not producing enough milk to satisfy their baby. Advice and support is available from several organisations with trained breastfeeding counsellors. For more information, contact web addresses are on our website under “Useful infant nutrition contacts”. Others want to let dad have a go at feeding or simply prefer to bottle-feed. From around 6 months, whether you breastfeed or use formula, you will start to notice that your baby needs more than milk to satisfy their hunger. It’s around this time that weaning on to solid foods begins.

How do I know when to start weaning?

Babies are ready to eat solid foods at different ages although generally weaning starts at around 6 months. If you are thinking of starting weaning before 6 months, it is best to talk to your doctor or pediatrician first.

Some of the signs your baby might be ready to start solid foods include:

  • She can sit up
  • She wants to chew and puts things in her mouth
  • She can reach and grab accurately
  • She appears to be still hungry after increasing milk feeds for a few days
  • She is showing interest in other people’s eating