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:
- 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 and poultry dishes. Cooked plain tofu and legumes/beans are also 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.
- Start with pureed fruits and vegetables such as cooked apple, pear, pumpkin, potato, carrots and zucchini.
- 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.
- Do not add sugar or honey to infant foods as this increases the risk of dental caries.
- 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.
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