Your baby has only ever had milk before, but now they’re eating solid food and their digestive system has to adapt. It’s therefore really common for babies to have strange poo characteristics from this point, including:
Pooing more often
Pooing less often, or being constipated
Poos that are firmer or thicker
Poos that are darker in colour
Poos that are smellier
Poos that contain pieces of undigested foods, like pieces of sweetcorn or fruit/veggie skins
Constipation is a condition whereby poo becomes hard and difficult to pass. In babies, it can see them straining when trying to poo and sometimes getting distressed. Your baby may be experiencing constipation if they:
Are pooing less than three times a week
Have poos that are often difficult to push out, or larger than usual
Have dry, hard or lumpy ‘rabbit dropping’ poo
If your baby has any of these symptoms then you may wish to try:
1. Increasing foods high in a type of fibre that softens poo, such as:
b. seeds like linseeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds
c. pulses like kidney beans, baked beans, chickpeas and lentils
d. vegetables – particularly sweet potato, avocado, broccoli, turnip, pumpkin, Brussel sprouts, carrots, French beans and courgette
2. Increasing drinks of water with the aim of 800ml of fluid (including milk) each day, plus more in hot weather
3. Fruits which are high in sorbitol, a natural laxative, such as:
a. Prunes, pears and plums
b. the juice of these same fruits, diluted with water
4. Limiting bananas and apples without the skin e.g. apple puree (these can actually make constipation worse)
You should consider seeking advice or support from your GP if your baby has:
Red poo or evidence of bleeding from their bottom
Black poo (but not meconium, seen in the first 2-3 days after birth)
White or very pale poo
Persistent constipation that can’t be managed with the natural remedies mentioned above
It's unlikely. Some foods cause a contact reaction which is not a food allergy, so there’s no need to avoid these foods. This kind of irritation to babies’ delicate skin is commonly caused by foods that are acidic, salty or histamine-rich. Common culprits are tomato, kiwi, strawberry and acidic fruits like citrus fruits, or food products that use acidic fruit juice, such as lemon juice, in their ingredients.
Babies do have delicate skin, especially those with eczema, so if you find that yours develops some skin irritation after eating, you can apply a barrier cream around their mouth and face before a meal.
No, not at all. During weaning your baby is experiencing a whole array of tastes, smells textures and new experiences. Sweeter foods are often readily accepted (babies already like sweet stuff, as breast and formula milk are both sweet), but bitter, sour, salty and umami tastes are all new sensations for them.
That’s why they pull some interesting faces or have varied reactions, including grimacing, frowning, squinting, shuddering and eye-widening, which can all be easily interpreted as shock or disgust! In fact, these are all very normal responses to new foods and not necessarily an indication that your baby doesn’t like them.
Try the food again on another day and be mindful that bitter, sour or umami food tastes may need several attempts to be accepted. Sometimes it can take more than 10 separate serving occasions before a baby learns to like a particular food or flavour.
No, not at all. Just like everything else your baby does, they will develop their eating skills at their own pace. All you need to do is provide them with nutritious food, give them lots of opportunities, make their mealtimes fun, happy times – and let them go at their own speed.
It’s important to be guided by your baby, take note of their signals and respond to their particular needs. Some babies take their time while others race through weaning, but they all get there in the end. If you have any concerns, however, do raise them with your health visitor or GP.
If your baby is older than 26 weeks (6 months), then there’s no need to pre-boil water for your baby to drink once cooled. You can offer free-flowing tap water instead. If you live in a house where the pipes are old, however, it’s a good idea to let the water run for a few moments first. Naturally, if your baby is less than 26 weeks of age, then yes, do boil and cool water for them first, as their immune systems are less robust.
Avoid giving your baby bottled water too (for one thing it’s actually considered stagnant, having sat on shop shelves for a period of time). If it’s an emergency and there are no alternatives, look for bottled water with the lowest sodium content and boil and cool it first. It’s also best to avoid water from filter jugs, as filters are a breeding ground for bacteria.
The Department of Health recommends that babies have no more than 1g of salt per day, which is less than a quarter of a teaspoon. This is because their kidneys cannot process too much salt.
It’s really easy for salt quantities to mount up, because lots of processed foods have salt added. It’s also known that little ones raised via baby-led weaning are likely to eat more salt earlier than babies being traditionally weaned, simply because many family foods contain natural salt or have salt added to them, for example, bread, breadsticks and cheese.
To help you limit your little one’s salt intake, it’s best to avoid the following foods for babies under 1 year of age:
Processed meats like sausages, bacon and ham
Pies, pasties, Scotch eggs, sausage rolls and other processed savoury foods
Condiments like ketchup
Tinned foods with high salt content e.g. baked beans and tinned spaghetti
Foods aimed at older children or adults rather than babies
In addition, limit how often you offer:
Cheese (no more than once a day)
Bread (try alternative carbohydrates like pasta, couscous, rice and potatoes, rather than bread every day)
Breadsticks and crackers (no more than 2-3 times per week)
Note too that food in restaurants tends to have more salt in it than its home-cooked equivalent, because salt is often added for flavour. Therefore, when you’re eating out, take your baby’s food with you.
Finally, when you’re shopping, check the nutrition label and the per 100g guidance – any food containing less than 0.3g of salt per 100g is low in salt and suitable for your baby.
Night waking is pretty normal for babies and it isn’t always related to food. Babies wake up for a number of reasons – they might be too hot or cold, they might be hungry, or they might just want a cuddle.
Sometimes enthusiastic eaters enjoy their weaning food so much that it actually displaces milk intake and many first weaning foods are actually very low in nutritional value. Although veggies and fruit contain a lot of vitamins and minerals, they don’t contain many of the other important nutrients babies need.
This is where baby meal planning becomes really important, so that you can make sure your little one is getting enough nutrition during the day if they’re dropping their milk feeds. Have a look at our Stage 2 and Stage 3 articles if you need some help on how to plan effectively.
Rice contains a naturally occurring compound called inorganic arsenic and it comes from the soil in which it's grown. People can be concerned about this because inorganic arsenic is carcinogenic, meaning it can lead to cancer in some individuals. The amount of arsenic in rice-based foods depends on where the rice is grown, how it’s processed and also the type of rice it is. Brown rice, for example, contains more than white rice because the inorganic arsenic is in the outer bran layers.
Younger children are more at risk of having too much inorganic arsenic, because they have smaller bodies and can have more exposure to it through baby rice, rice cakes etc. However, it’s not certain whether this is a significant concern, as the harmful effects come through long-term exposure.
In short, it's ok for babies and toddlers to eat rice in moderation. But to be super-safe, bear in mid the following points:
Avoid rice drinks (e.g. rice milk) till the age of 5
Boil rice in lots of water to reduce arsenic levels
Eat a variety of grains e.g. oats, barley, wheat and corn, as well as rice, as they’re all starchy carbs that are healthy for your baby
There’s no need to use baby rice as a first food – go with veggies and then fruits, as both offer much more flavour and a greater experience for your baby
Rice cakes are fine but be aware that they’re actually quite poor in terms of nutritional quality – there's just not much in them (but you can pop a little nut butter on top to help)
The NHS currently advises that snacks do not need to be included into your baby’s diet until they are around 12 months of age. You can continue to offer breast or formula milk in between meals as you progress through the weaning journey, but little ones don't require extra food on top.