Nutrition expert Kate DiPrima provides this guide
to help you introduce solid foods to your baby.
ll babies progress at different rates
but here is a general guide to
feeding your baby their first solids.
When to begin
Until six months of age your baby receives
all of their nutrition from either breast
milk or formula; however, at six months
their needs are generally not met by these
sources alone. At this age, signs that they
may be ready for more solid food may
• showing interest in your food
• putting things in their mouth
• able to suck on a spoon (without the
tongue forcing it out again)
• wanting more frequent feeds
• sitting up.
The first spoonful
This needs to be very smooth and sloppy,
and mild in taste. An iron-enriched baby
rice cereal is a great first food due to its
texture and iron content. Mix it with breast
milk, formula or cooled boiled water. Other
great first foods are pureed vegetables such
as pumpkin, potato, carrot, zucchini or
avocado; and fruits such as pureed banana,
pear and cooked pureed apple.
Week 1: introduce one teaspoon of rice cereal
per day, after a breast feed or bottle feed.
Week 2: increase the rice cereal to two
feeds per day, after a breast or bottle feed.
Week 3: add pureed vegetables or fruit to
one of the meal times (e.g. one to three
teaspoons of pureed potato, pumpkin,
carrot or zucchini).
Week 4: add anywhere between one
teaspoon and one tablespoon of pureed fruit
to the cereal.
After these first weeks, continue to add the
blander vegetables and fruits, such as pureed
banana, pear, apple and avocado. Gradually
increase the amount until you are up to half
a cup or around 120g per solid meal. This
solid food should be in addition to four or
five breast or bottle feeds (600ml to 800ml)
At 6 to 8 months: Once your
baby is eating cereal and several fruits and
vegetables, it is time to introduce more
protein-rich foods, as these are more
satisfying and contain nutrients such as
iron, zinc or calcium. Foods could include
lean meats, chicken, fish, egg yolk (leave
the egg whites until after 12 months of
age), dairy foods (e.g. yoghurt, tasty cheese,
ricotta cheese) and legumes (e.g. baked
beans and hommus). You can also include
foods such as rice, pasta and bread, cut into
sticks or squares. Solids can now be offered
before the feed. Remember, your baby’s
tastebuds are very sensitive and have not
been damaged by strong spicy hot foods, so
what tastes bland to you may be a strong
flavour for your baby. For this reason, do
not add salt, sugar or honey to their foods.
At 8 to 9 months: At this age,
babies will start to chew regardless of how
many teeth they have. It is important to
change the texture from smooth to a
mashed texture with soft lumps. This helps
them learn how to move the food around
in their mouth and chew. It’s also
important for their speech development. At
around eight to nine months babies learn
how to pick things up with their hands, so
you can introduce finger foods such as:
• Sticks of cheese
• Bread sticks or rusks
• Pieces of cooked vegetable including
cooked carrot and apple.
To avoid choking, always watch your baby
while they are feeding themself, and make
sure they are sitting upright. To prevent
choking, also avoid:
• raw carrot and raw apple
• large pieces of food including large
pieces of meat
• popcorn, nuts and lollies
• large sized grapes and dried fruit (e.g.
raisins – instead, cut them into halves
At 9 to 12 months: Your baby
should be offered three meals per day
(between half and one cup or 120g to 250g)
with three to four formula or breast feeds
(approximately 600ml). Offer food before
the breast or bottle feed. By 12 months of
age, the food’s texture should be a lot
chunkier (some babies are able to chew
tougher meats or even chew on a chop).
Offer water as an alternative to milk, and
try to avoid offering anything sweet such as
juice (if offered it should be diluted one
part juice to four parts water).
12 months and beyond: Your
baby will probably be eating similar foods to
the rest of the family now. It is not necessary
to cook different meals for different members
(although it is advisable to tone down very
rich, strong flavours for them). You can now:
• offer drinks such as water from a cup,
(important for their hand eye
coordination) or cows milk
• use small amounts of honey
• use cooked egg whites.
Note: If there is a family history of allergies,
speak with your GP or dietitian as they may
advise delayed introduction of some foods.