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After around six months, breast or formula milk will no longer provide all the nutrients your baby needs, so it’s time for weaning. Leading baby food and nutrition expert Annabel Karmel shares her tips on the exciting business of introducing your baby to new tastes.

First foods

  • Your baby will be used to the closeness and warmth of breast- or bottle-feeding, so hold them close and give lots of cuddles when weaning.
  • If they struggle to eat from a spoon, simply dip your clean finger in the purée and feed them from that.
  • Very first foods should be easy to digest and unlikely to provoke an allergy. Butternut squash and root vegetable purées like carrot or sweet potato are good – orange-coloured vegetables are a rich source of vitamin A, important for growth and to help your baby fight infections.
  • Apple and pear make good first fruit purées, while banana, papaya and avocado are brilliant ‘no cook’ foods – just mash them.

Introducing babies to texture

  • After six months of age, add cheese to vegetable purées before moving on to meat and fish.
  • Eggs are very nutritious and fine from six months if cooked until solid and there is no family history of egg allergies. If an egg does cause a reaction, the effect will be almost immediate, in which case seek medical advice. Well-cooked scrambled eggs make a good breakfast for your baby.
  • Puréed chicken is an ideal first protein as it’s easy to digest and the darker meat is a good source of iron. Try my chicken with sweet potato and apple recipe.

Introducing babies to red meat

  • Red meat is a very good source of iron, so offer a tasty beef purée.
  • If your baby is following a vegetarian diet, lentils have lots of iron.
  • When your baby moves on to chopped foods at nine to 12 months, chunks of beef can be a little tough, so try cooking it slowly until tender in a casserole with onion and root vegetables, or make a bolognese sauce with lots of finely chopped cooked vegetables.

Introducing babies to fish

  • Poach or cook fish in the microwave with a little milk, remove any bones then purée with a cheese sauce or mix with vegetables. Try my salmon with sweet potato, tomato and basil.
  • Oily fish such as salmon is important for the development of your baby’s vision and nervous system. Your baby’s brain will triple in size during the first year so give them oily fish from six months, but no more than two portions a week, as there is a concern that it can contain low levels of pollutants such as mercury; the NHS Live Well website has more information.

Finger foods

Once your baby can hold pieces of food, try tempting finger foods such as my chicken nuggets, mini meatballs and salmon footballs.

You can also find more brilliant fish, chicken and meat recipes by Annabel Karmel on her website,