We are not supporting this browser

Baby Baby Name Generator

      The importance of a balanced weaning diet














      Dad feeding baby outside














      Babies need a different kind of diet

      A balanced diet for a baby is very different from ours. Unlike our diets, which ideally should be low in fat and high in fibre, your baby needs a diet relatively high in fat and low in fibre. Although fibre is a good thing, it's very filling and too much of it may leave your baby too full to eat other foods that contain the energy and nutrients they need at this stage.

      Your baby’s nutritional needs change as they grow so at each stage of their development they need the right balance of nutrients and energy to support healthy growth. A baby's tummy is around ten times smaller than an adult's, so it's important that every small spoonful your baby eats is packed full of the right nutrients and goodness.

      This is also a reason why babies need to eat small portions regularly throughout the day, rather than having a few larger meals.

      Variety is everything

      Variety is the spice of life! From breakfasts through to their main meals and desserts, it's important to give your baby a wide range of foods in their diet, especially in their first year when their food preferences are being formed. From around the age of two these preferences may become relatively fixed until they’re around eight years old, so make sure they’ve tried red meat, poultry, fish, various fruit and vegetables, dairy, cereals, rice, pasta and potatoes.

      Different foods have different nutrients, so ensuring your baby eats a wide variety of food is essential for a balanced diet and their healthy growth and development. However, there’s one very important vitamin that you may find difficult to get enough of from food alone, and that’s vitamin D.

      Also known as the sunshine vitamin, your little one’s body produces it when they’re out in the summer sun. Unfortunately, the Irish weather makes it hard for them to make enough to support their normal bone development. And as only a few foods like liver, oily fish and eggs contain it, many children aren’t getting enough. 

      Different food groups and their benefits

      So what kinds of foods are in the different food groups and how often should you give them to your baby? The pointers below should help you:

      Starchy foods – bread products, cereals (including pasta and rice) and potatoes. These foods provide your baby with the energy they need to grow and develop. Offer your baby a portion with each meal and at some snack times.

      Fruit and vegetables – fresh, frozen, tinned and dried fruit and veg. Fruit and vegetables contain a whole range of vitamins and minerals which are important for your baby’s development. Ideally you should offer some at each meal and for snacks, with a variety of different colours.

      Milk, cheese and yogurt – these foods are rich in protein, calcium and some vitamins and minerals. Milks fortified with vitamin D can help keep your baby’s levels topped up. They will need at least three servings of dairy a day, either to drink or in cooking.

      Meat, fish and alternatives – meat, fish, eggs, nuts and pulses such as lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas and dhal. These are a valuable source of protein, iron and omega 3 fats, while oily fish like herring, mackerel and salmon provide vitamin D, as do liver and eggs. Offer these foods once or twice a day to meat-eaters or two to three times a day to vegetarians.

      Foods high in fat and sugar – examples of foods high in fat and sugar are oils, butter, cakes and biscuits. Fats and sugar provide lots of energy, which is what your baby needs, but they often contain only small amounts of vitamins and minerals. So these may be included in your baby's diet, but make sure they are given as an extra, and do not use them to replace one of the other food groups.

      Watch the salt

      You should watch out for the amount of salt in food you give your baby, and avoid adding any yourself, because it may strain their little kidneys -which are still developing. Babies should actually have no more than 1g of salt in any one day, which is just 1/6th of an adults maximum daily allowance.

      Milk is important to your baby

      Milk remains crucial to your baby when weaning because it ensures that they’re getting the vitamins, minerals, fats and proteins that they need – especially in the early stages of weaning.

      Important Notice

      Breastfeeding is best for babies and provides many benefits. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, you eat a varied, balanced diet. Combined breast and bottle feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of your own breastmilk, and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. Always consult your healthcare professional for advice about feeding your baby,

      Any more questions?

      Our specialist baby advisors and experienced mums are here to talk and ready to help whenever you need them. You can call us or reach us on Live Chat 8.30am-5.30pm Monday-Friday.

      Join the C&G baby club today

      Join the C&G baby club today

      • Weekly emails with tips and advice for your stage
      • 1-to-1 support from our dedicated Careline team, 8.30am - 5.30pm Monday to Friday.
      Join us now

      More from baby

      Your privacy is important to us and therefore we would like to explain how we use cookies on this website. With your consent, we will use cookies to measure and analyse how our website is used (analytical cookies), to tailor it to your interests (personalisation cookies), and to show you relevant advertising and information (targeting cookies) we think you will like. For more information please read the cookie statement.

      Privacy Settings

      You can choose your preferences anytime for cookies and tracking. For more information please read our cookie policy

      • Strictly necessary

        They are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off. They are usually only set in response to actions made by you which amount to a request for services (setting your privacy preferences, logging in, filling in forms, etc.). You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not then work.

      • Analytical cookies

        They allow us to count visits and traffic sources, to measure and improve the performance of our site. They show us which pages are the most and least popular and how visitors move around the site. If you do not allow these cookies we will not know when you have visited our site, and will not be able to monitor its performance.

      • Personalisation cookies

        They enable website’s enhanced functionality and personalization. They may be set by us or by third parties whose services we have added to our pages. If you do not allow these cookies, some or all of these services may not function properly.

      • Targeting cookies

        They may be set through our site by our advertising partners, to build a profile of your interests and to show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.