Serving food to your baby

All EWTK recipes are suitable for babies from 6 months old after they have been introduced to solid foods. It is recommended that babies initially start on bitter green vegetables either pureed (traditional weaning) or as a cooked finger food (baby led weaning). Or offering both a puree and a finger of the same vegetable. After 2 weeks of single vegetables more variety can be introduced.

You can then start eating as a family using the EWTK recipes.

When serving food to your baby cut it into finger size strips where possible, around the size of your forefinger. If baby picks up the strip half should be visible above their grasp.

  • Examples include pancakes, frittata, pastry (tart, pie topping, pinwheel), toast, loaves, muffins.
  • Meat or fish in a meal should be served in fingers (easy to squash/flake between fingers), mashed or pureed.
  • Large pasta shapes such as rigatoni or fusilli can be served as a finger food. Spaghetti/tagliatelle require cutting up.
  • Chickpeas, kidney beans and other beans require mashing.
  • Cooked vegetables should also be offered in finger sized portions such as florets of broccoli or cauliflower, batons of carrot, courgette, parsnip. Peas and sweetcorn can be served whole.

If you are following traditional weaning you can blend meals with baby’s usual milk.

Foods to avoid offering your babies and children

When you start introducing food to your baby there are some which are not safe.  These are the ones to avoid and why:

Added sugar

Sugar can cause tooth decay; therefore, it is recommended to avoid sugary foods and drinks.  Sugar that is naturally found in milk, fruit and vegetables does not need to be restricted.

Sugar that is added to food or drinks and those naturally present in unsweetened fruit and vegetable juices, smoothies, purees and in honey and maple syrup - are called “free sugars”. These sugars should be limited in your diet.

Age group

Maximum recommend daily amount of free sugars

Children under 4

There is no guideline limit, but it is recommended that they avoid sugar sweetened drinks and food with added sugar.

Children aged 4 to 6

19g (5 teaspoons)

Children aged 7 to 10

24g (6 teaspoons)

Children over 11 and adults

30g (7 teaspoons)



Honey contains a bacteria which can lead to infant botulism, this is a very serious illness which can make your baby unwell.  Honey should be avoided until your baby is at least 12 months old raw or cooked in foods.


Your kidneys process salt and excess leaves the body in urine.  Babies’ kidneys are too small to cope with large amounts of salt.  Salt can cause high blood pressure even in children, which puts them at a higher risk of heart disease and stroke later in life.  A high salt intake can also contribute to a taste preference for salty foods as they get older. Salt should be limited as follows:

Age group

Maximum recommend daily amount of salt

Up to 12 months

Less than 1g (0.4g sodium)

Children aged 1 – 3

2g (0.8g sodium)

Children aged 4 – 6

3g (1.2g sodium)

Children 7 – 10

5g (2g sodium)

Children over 11 and adults

6g (2.4g sodium)


Foods which are very high in salt include processed meats (ham, sausages, bacon), gravy, stock cubes, butter, marmite, baked beans.  For under 1s these could be avoided, or alternatives should be used such as unsalted butter and low salt stock cubes. Salt should not be added to food during cooking or at the table.

When thinking about salt picture the amount given over a day or a few days.  If the amount eaten one day is slightly high, the next day could be lower.  Also, babies do not always eat all the portion offered, particularly when they first start eating solid foods.

A no added salt diet is beneficial for the whole family but if adults prefer saltier food it can be added at the table.


Whole nuts and peanuts should not be given to children under 5 due to the risk of choking.  Nuts can be served crushed, ground or in a nut or peanut butter from 6 months once introduced into the diet successfully (see allergen information).

Soft cheeses/unpasteurised cheeses

Certain cheeses can contain a bacteria called listeria.  Soft cheeses to be avoided include mould ripened varieties such as brie and camembert.  Ripened goats milk cheese such as chevre and blue veined cheese such as Roquefort.  Check food labels to ensure cheeses are pasteurised.

Raw shellfish

Shellfish if eaten raw can increase the risk of food poisoning.  Children should only be given shellfish which has been thoroughly cooked.  Examples of shellfish include prawns, mussels, crab, scallops.

Shark, swordfish, or marlin

These types of fish contain high level amounts of mercury which can negatively affect babies’ growing nervous system (brain, spinal cord, and nerves).

Introducing Allergens

Introducing solid food to your baby can make parents anxious or worried, including the concern of allergens. Your baby may be at a higher risk of developing an allergy if they already have a food allergy (e.g. Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy) or eczema.  Or if you have a family history of food allergies, eczema, asthma, or hay fever.  In these cases, speak to your GP or health visitor. Referral to a doctor who specialises in allergies and an assessment by a registered dietitian would be preferable prior to commencing weaning. All other babies are low risk.

When you start introducing solid foods to your baby at around 6 months, introduce the foods that can trigger allergic reactions early in your weaning journey after vegetables have been introduced.  Here are some tips to help:

  • Introduce them one at a time and in very small amounts so that you can spot any reaction. Start with a quarter to half a teaspoon.
  • Once the allergen has been introduced without a reaction continue to include it regularly (to minimise the risk of allergy long term).
  • Introduce an allergen early in the day e.g. at breakfast so you have the rest of the day to see if a reaction develops.
  • Leave a couple of days between introducing allergens so you can identify a reaction easily.
  • Only introduce a new allergen if your baby is well.

There are 14 main allergens which are most likely to trigger an allergic reaction.  These must be highlighted on an ingredients list on prepacked foods by law.

  • Cow’s milk (not to be offered as a drink in under 1s, only in cooking or mixed with foods). Can be offered as full fat cow’s milk added to food or plain unsweetened natural yoghurt.
  • Egg (eggs without the lion stamp should not be eaten raw or lightly cooked). Can be offered scrambled/soft/hard boiled in fingers/omelette fingers/mashed into other foods. Aim for 1 egg over a week.
  • Cereals containing gluten including wheat, rye, barley, and oats. Can be offered as a wheat-based cereal/well cooked pasta/cous cous/toast fingers.
  • Tree nuts (serve crushed, ground or a butter for children under 5). Can be offered mixed with cereal/yoghurt/fruit.
  • Peanuts (serve crushed, ground or a butter for children under 5). Can be offered mixed with cereal/yoghurt/fruit. Aim for 2 level teaspoons in a week.
  • Sesame can be offered as sesame seeds crushed and added to food or tahini in houmous.
  • Soya
  • Shellfish (not to be served raw or lightly cooked for infants).
  • Fish can be offered mashed/flaked or pureed.
  • Mustard
  • Celery
  • Sulphur Dioxide
  • Lupin
  • Molluscs (not to be served raw or lightly cooked for infants)

These are not the only foods, just the most common in the UK to trigger an allergic reaction.

Symptoms of a food allergy can include one or more of the following:

  • Diarrhoea or vomiting
  • a cough
  • wheezing and shortness of breath
  • itchy throat and tongue
  • itchy skin or rash
  • swollen lips and throat
  • runny or blocked nose
  • sore, red, and itchy eyes

Rarely foods can cause a severe allergic reaction which is called anaphylaxis which can be life threatening.  If you think your baby is having an allergic reaction get medical help straight away.


Sarah Jane Chetwynd

Specialist Dietitian

Follow Sarah Jane on Instagram here - @babybeannutrition