To identify a range of attitudes and beliefs which influence the timing of Introduction to solid food, five focus group discussions were undertaken within a maternity hospital setting. These sessions explored early feeding behaviour, stimuli to changing feeding habits and subsequent responses in 22 primiparous and seven multiparous mothers (mean age 27.0 +/- 4.8 years) with babies aged 8-18 weeks (mean age 13.0 +/- 4.2 weeks). One-third of the participants had introduced solid food to their infants (mean age of introduction 11.6 weeks, range 2-16 weeks). Mothers believed that the introduction of solids was baby led and initiated by some physical characteristic or behavioural action of the infant. All mothers were aware of current recommendations to avoid the introduction of solid food until 4 months. Few knew why this should be and concepts of long-term ill health were difficult to conceptualize. The conflict between rigid feeding guidelines and flexible advice from supportive health professionals created confusion over the importance of good weaning practices. The current findings highlight issues relevant to the introduction of solid food, and provide a foundation for further research which can identify the relative importance of these factors and provide a rationale for the design of contemporary intervention strategies.