Babies First Foods – When to Introduce Each Food

Introducing solids to your baby’s diet around 6 months of age ensures your baby receives all the essential vitamins and minerals needed to develop into a healthy child. The recommendation from the Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents in Australia is to introduce solid food from around 6 months but not before 4 months, with breast milk still being the most important part of your baby’s diet.

Babies First Foods – When to Introduce each food:

6 months

  • Breast or bottle feed your baby first then start by offering food.
  • Use a small plastic spoon with smooth rounded edges.
  • First foods need to be smooth and pureed with no lumps.
  • To prevent iron deficiency, iron-containing nutritious foods are recommended to be the first foods. Iron containing foods include iron-fortified cereals, pureed meat, poultry, fish, cooked egg and legumes (such as chick peas) and cooked plain tofu are also good sources of iron.
  • Baby rice cereal is a good start as it is nice and smooth and high in iron content. You can mix it with breast milk, formula or cool boiled water.
  • Start with 1 or 2 teaspoons to begin with, then increase to 3 or 4, and build up to 3 meals a day at your baby’s own pace.
  • Start by offering one new food at a time and waiting a few days to introduce another one.
  • There is no particular order in which to introduce solid foods but a good place to start with are pureed fruits and vegetables such as cooked apple, pear, pumpkin, potato, carrots and zucchini.

Baby First foods

7-8 months

  • Once your baby is eating pureed food well you can start to introduce foods with a higher protein and iron content and a thicker texture.
  • Mince or mash foods with a lumpy texture.
  • Introduce well cooked meats like meat, chicken and fish.
  • Wheat based cereals, breads/toasts, couscous, pasta and rice.
  • Beans and lentils
  • Foods can be introduced in any order provided iron-rich nutritious foods are the first foods and the texture is suitable for the infant’s stage of development.
  • Cow’s milk products including full-fat yoghurt, cheese and custard may be given, but not cow’s milk as a main drink before 12 months.
  • Start to offer a few different choices at meal times and always include a nice balanced healthy meal. Or you may want to try baby-led weaning.
  • Do not add sugar or honey to infant foods as this increases the risk of dental caries.

9-10months

  • Your child will have started to grip and pick things up at this age, making it an ideal time to introduce finger foods.
  • Small pieces of well cooked vegetables such as broccoli and pumpkin.
  • Finger sandwiches, banana pieces,
  • Thin strips of meat, chicken and ham, cooked pasta.
  • Soft cubes of cheese.
  • Encourage your child to drink from a cup; breast milk should still be the major source of milk until your child is 12 months of age.
  • Offer water between meals and avoid juices, added sugar, preservatives or additives in any way.
  • Offer your child fresh healthy food at all times.

Introducing Egg and Peanut

  • All infants should be given foods that are common food allergens including peanut butter, cooked egg, dairy and wheat products in the first year of life. This includes infants considered to be at high risk of developing food allergy.
  • Parents are sometimes worried about giving egg and peanut butter to their infants, as they are common food allergens. However, it is best to offer your infant cooked egg and peanut butter regularly, starting before 12 months of age.
  • Introduce cooked egg (e.g. egg in muffins) and peanut butter in the morning so that you can watch your infant and easily respond to any potential reaction.
  • The ASCIA recommend introducing cooked egg and peanut butter in small amounts to start with. Offer well cooked egg and peanut paste. You can do this by mixing a small amount of hard-boiled egg or peanut paste (for example ¼ baby spoon) into your infant’s usual food (e.g. vegetable puree), and gradually increasing the amount (up to several spoons full) if your infant is not having any allergic reactions.
  • Smearing food on the skin will not help to identify possible food allergies, but you can rub a small amount of the food on the inside of your infant’s lip as a starting point. If there is no reaction after a few minutes, you can start giving small amounts of the food as above. Never rub food on infant skin, especially if they have eczema.

If you notice any swelling of the lips, eyes or face; skin rashes such as hives or welts, vomiting, trouble breathing, or any change in your infant’s well-being (e.g. becoming very unsettled) soon after giving a new food, your infant could be having an allergic reaction and you should seek medical help. For severe symptoms (anaphylaxis) such as difficulty breathing, pale and floppy, swollen tongue, call an ambulance. Further information about the signs and symptoms of mild to moderate and severe (anaphylaxis) allergic reactions, is available from the ASCIA website: www.allergy.org.au

Babies First Foods

By 12 months

  • Your child should be eating well balanced healthy meals with the family and be able to eat independently (always with supervision).
  • Start to drink from a cup. Cows milk can be introduced.
  • Eating a wide variety of foods and textures.
  • Avoiding foods that could cause a choking hazard like uncooked vegetables and fruits (whole Grapes), popcorn, hard lollies and nuts.
  • Do not add salt to foods for infants.

Source: Australian Government Department of Health

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