Healthy living

Baby’s first foods – a guide to the best foods for your baby

Getting started

Breast milk is the perfect food for your baby. It provides all the nutrients your baby needs for the first 6 months of life, and is an important food for the first year. If you are not breastfeeding, use an infant formula.

Around 6 months babies are ready for solid food and need more nutrients than can be provided by breast milk or infant formula. Your baby’s first attempts at eating are important food experiences that help your child become familiar with food. At the start your baby will only eat small amounts so breast milk (or formula) is still the most important food at this time.

This topic may use 'he' and 'she' in turn – please change to suit your child's sex.

Experts say …

Introducing solid food at the right time is very important. If you start too early, your baby’s digestive system is not ready for solid food. Starting solid food before your baby is 4 months can increase the risk of allergies and rejection of the spoon.

If you wait too long after 6 months, your baby will miss out on important nutrients needed for growth and development. It also becomes harder for your baby to accept new tastes and textures and it can also increase the risk of developing allergies.

At first

At first your baby may not be too sure about solid foods – more may end up on the floor than in your baby’s mouth. But in time, especially if you are patient and relaxed, your baby will learn to eat and enjoy a wide range of family foods.

As long as iron-rich foods are offered first, foods can be introduced in any order. An iron fortified cereal is a good first choice.

By the end of the first year, your baby will have progressed from pureed or mashed foods to foods that are chopped into small pieces, and will be feeding himself finger foods.

Where to get help

Local community or child health nurse

  • See inside your baby's purple All About Me book.
  • Look in the phone directory under child health centres.
  • Visit your nearest child health centre.

Local family doctor

Dietitians Association of Australia

Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA)

Ngala Helpline

  • 8.00am – 8.00pm 7 days a week
  • Phone: 9368 9368
  • Outside metro area – Free call 1800 111 546 (free from land line only)
  • Visit the Ngala website (external site)

Raising Children Network

Remember

  • Introducing solid food at the right time is very important.
  • Your baby’s first attempts at eating will help him or her become familiar with food.

Acknowledgements

Child and Adolescent Health Service


This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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