All babies reach a stage where breast or formula milk does not supply all the nutrients they need. Premature babies in particular need careful planning of the nutrients in their food, to make sure they continue to develop and grow.
New tastes and textures help encourage babies to eat a range of foods, which helps make sure that their diet is balanced later in life. Solid foods help babies to practise lip, tongue and jaw movements.
Eating together is also an important social activity. It is thought that babies can learn skills like eating from watching others.
Weaning also provides a great opportunity for all members of your family to become involved in feeding your baby.
"Sit them with you at meal times from early on so they can watch you all eat and become interested in eating themselves. It's hard to wean a baby who has no experience of or interest in food."
Rachel, mum to Hugo