Healthy living

How to start feeding your baby solids

When your baby is around 6 months, you can start feeding him or her solid foods.

In the first few weeks of feeding your baby solid food, give your baby small amounts of iron-rich, pureed, soft foods from a soft spoon.

Start with small tastes of food, say half a teaspoon, after a breastfeed.

Don’t worry if your baby doesn’t swallow very much food in the beginning. Babies often refuse food or spit it out.

Remember, every baby develops at his or her own pace. Some will learn to eat from a spoon quickly, others will have little interest. Don’t give up, just try again another time.

The amounts suggested here are just guides to help you get started. Your baby will take more solids at each feed as it gets used to food and continues to grow.

Be aware when different foods are introduced, your baby’s poo will change in colour and texture. Don’t be alarmed, this is normal.

Foods to try first

The first foods to start at around 6 months are foods high in iron, including:

  • iron-enriched cereals
  • other iron-fortified or iron-containing foods such as pureed meat, poultry and fish, cooked tofu and legumes.

Other than starting with iron-rich foods, there is no particular order that foods should be introduced or the number of new foods that can be given at a time. Slow introduction of foods is not necessary.

However, it is important that the texture is suitable for the baby’s development. Start with purees and then mashed foods, before progressing to minced and chopped foods.

Start with about a teaspoon of iron-rich baby rice cereal made into a smooth paste with breast milk, infant formula or cooled, boiled water. Offer once or twice a day, after a breastfeed or formula feed. Gradually increase the amount over a couple of days until your baby is eating about 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time. As your baby gets used to solid food, increase the amount you offer at a feed.

Choose foods from the 5 food groups that puree easily or have a pureed texture.

Try cereals:

  • any iron-fortified cereal.

Try cooked, pureed meat or meat alternatives:

  • meat
  • fish
  • chicken
  • pork
  • tofu
  • legumes and beans.

Try cooked vegetables such as:

  • potato and sweet potato
  • pumpkin
  • carrot.

Try cooked pureed fruit such as:

  • apple
  • pear
  • peaches
  • apricots.

Try other soft fruits such as:

  • banana
  • avocado.

Preparing your baby’s first foods

Cook meats, poultry, fish or meat alternatives in a little water with no added seasoning.

Steam or boil vegetables or fruits in a little water with no added salt or sugar.

Puree foods using a blender, or by mashing through a sieve to make sure there are no lumps.

Handy hint

Pre-prepared homemade foods can be stored in ice cube trays or small, sealed containers in the fridge or freezer.

Food safety

Babies are at greater risk of serious illness from food poisoning. It is important to keep your baby’s food safe.

  • Always wash your hands before preparing food.
  • Always wash your baby’s hands before he/she eats.
  • Use clean utensils and work surfaces.
  • Always use separate chopping boards and utensils when preparing raw food and ready-to-eat foods.
  • Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly before preparing.
  • Store prepared food in a sealed container in the fridge or freezer.
  • Re-heat pre-prepared food thoroughly before cooling it down to give your baby.
  • Never re-heat food more than once.
  • Keep pets away from food.

What about commercial baby foods?

Frequent use of commercial baby foods is not recommended as it may lead to delayed chewing and poor acceptance of new tastes and textures. They can be used as a standby or when travelling, but they shouldn’t form the basis of your baby’s diet.

Homemade food offers more variety in taste and texture and is cheaper than commercial baby food.

What to do if…

My baby doesn’t like the new food

Don’t worry or give up, just offer the food another time. New foods may need to be offered up to 10 times before babies accept them.

The food tastes bland

Babies are more sensitive to taste. Food may taste bland to you, but your baby will enjoy the simple taste. There is no need to add salt, sugar or spices to your baby’s food.

Try not to let your own likes and dislikes limit your baby’s choices.

The weather is hot

Give your baby plenty of fluid in hot weather to prevent dehydration. You may need to breastfeed or offer infant formula more often. Cooled, boiled water is the only other drink recommended for babies who need extra fluid.

Prevent choking

Babies and young children are at risk of choking on foods that are small, hard, round or sticky.  

Popcorn, nuts, seeds, hard lollies, hard raw fruits and vegetables, and corn chips are not suitable for babies.

Make sure you:

  • remove small bones and gristle from meat, fish or poultry
  • remove the skin from sausages, if offered
  • cook and mash hard fruit and vegetables (for example peas, beans, carrots and apple)
  • check that small, round foods like grapes are well chewed.

Always watch carefully when your baby is eating.

Remember

  • Some babies learn to eat from a spoon quickly while others will have little interest. Every baby develops at a different pace.
  • The first foods to start at around 6 months are foods high in iron.
  • It is important that the texture is suitable for your baby’s development. Start with pureed and then move to mashed 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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