The simple answer is that the best time is up to you and your baby.
Milk will remain your baby’s main source of nutrition for some time to come, so if they are really hungry, anything other than milk is unlikely to cut it in the early days of food.
Also if a baby is tired, they may not be in the right frame of mind for a new experience.
So it’s best to pick a time of day when your baby is not hungry or shattered. This could be breakfast, mid morning, lunch or mid afternoon.
By the end of the day, most babies start getting a bit cranky so the evening is usually not an ideal time to introduce a baby to food for the first time.
But babies are little individuals, so later in the day might be the perfect time for yours.
Another thing to consider for your baby’s first few meals is how much time you’ve got, so it’s not a big rush. It’s a period of exploration and discovery, and your baby may be much more into playing with the food than eating it. And if you are spoon feeding your baby, you may have quite a wait for them to open their mouth for each taste of food.
When your baby is first offered food, they might not be interested in it at all. That’s quite normal, and you can just give it another try at a different time.
Lots of parents find meal planners helpful in the early days as these give specific ideas on what to feed your baby and when. You can find meal planners online.
Here’s some recipe ideas for the first ten weeks of weaning.
And here’s a food/milk plan for the first five weeks of weaning.
Some parents swear by Annabel Karmel’s book ‘Baby and Toddler Meal Planner’ which was first published 25 years ago and has sold like hot cakes ever since. It is a recipe book with meal planners for babies of different ages, with suggestions for the timing of both food and milk feeds.
But meal planners are not everyone’s cup of tea. Some parents aren’t into the idea of schedule what to feed their baby and when.
Also meal planners generally assume that first foods will be purees. Parents who prefer the baby led weaning approach often start offering their baby food at family meals.
And sometimes babies decide themselves on the timing of their first meal by grabbing food off someone’s plate.
While baby led weaning is about going with the flow, this can be tricky if you’re the sort of person who likes some concrete guidance to help you along.
There’s a great thread on the Baby Led Weaning website which has some tips on adapting meal planners for a baby led approach:
Whether you prefer a plan or would rather make it up as you go along, by 12 months babies are generally eating three meals a day, breakfast, lunch and tea.
As ever, our mantra is to do it your way.