Starting solid foods is an important stage in your baby’s development, but there is more to it than just making sure they’re getting all the nutrients they need – it’s also about teaching them to accept and enjoy new foods and textures!
At around 6 month of age you’ll start noticing signs that your baby is ready to move on to solid foods. Sitting up unsupported and beginning to bite things instead of sucking are just two signs they may be ready for their world to open up to a whole set of new food experiences!
Beginning solid foods at around 6 months is important as it’s a time when your baby is beginning to need more nutrients and energy than their breast milk or infant formula alone can provide. It’s also the time when babies adjust more quickly to new textures and foods, – but breast milk or infant formula still needs to be continued when solid foods are introduced as they remain an important source of nutrients during your baby’s first year.
Ideal starting foods
Start by offering iron-rich foods such as iron enriched infant cereals, puréed meat (including fish and poultry), cooked tofu and legumes such as beans and lentils.
The consistency of the food offered should be appropriate for your baby’s developmental stage. Start with puréed, smooth, soft foods that don’t require chewing. After your baby is happily eating a range of smooth foods they’ll soon be progressing to thicker and lumpier textures and by around 8 months they’ll be ready for finger foods.
Babies need to be encouraged to try lots of different types of foods to help them get all the nutrients they need and get used to tasting different flavours – there is no need to add extra sugar (including honey) or salt.
You can find more information on the equipment you may need when you first start feeding solids in the article: Equipment for Weaning.
Foods can be introduced in any order (as long as ones rich in iron are included) and at a rate that suits your baby – you can offer more than one food at a time and even mix them together.
Try and offer your baby a range of foods from the following five main food groups that purée easily or have a puréed texture:
- Vegetables and legumes
- Cereals such as cooked quick oats or couscous
- Soft cooked puréed meat, chicken, fish, egg or tofu
- Dairy such as baby yogurt, custard or cheese.
Here are a few vegetable and fruit combos that are great to add to iron-rich foods such as puréed meat, chicken, fish or iron-fortified cereals:
- Pumpkin, sweet potato and broccoli
- Zucchini, yellow squash and potato
- Green beans and sweet potato
- Cauliflower and carrot
- Avocado and pumpkin.
- Melon and banana
- Papaya and banana
- Apple and pear
- Pear and peach
- Avocado and apple.
Foods and drinks to avoid
While offering your baby a range of food is recommended there are some foods and drinks that should be avoided – these include:
- Cow’s milk – don’t use this as the main drink until your baby is 1 year old
- Foods that contain unpasteurised milk
- Honey – should not be feed to a baby under 12 months old as it may contain harmful bacteria
- Fruit juices – these are not usually recommended for babies under 12 months
- Tea, herbal teas, coffee, and cola drinks
- Hard foods that could be a choking risk such as chips, popcorn, nuts and lollies.
Be patient and don’t expect your baby to love all the new tastes the first time they try them – just offer them again another time and remember it may take a few goes before they finally accept them! Once your baby is happily eating a range of smooth foods it is important to get ready to move on to the next stage – thicker textures, lumps and chewing!