Noticed baby has been eyeballing your snacks lately? If the six-month milestone is in sight and your little human can sit unsupported, it’s time to prepare for introducing solids in all their colourful, gloopy glory.
But where do you start? What food should you avoid? And do blueberries mean blue poo? As mamas ourselves, we know that introducing solids comes with its fair share of questions and uncertainty, so we’ve dived right into the topic of baby’s first foods to help you confidently take on mealtimes with your mini.
Safety first: What you need to know about introducing solids
Solids are essential for healthy growth
According to the Australian Breastfeeding Association, babies’ iron and zinc stores become depleted as they reach the half-year mark. With milk no longer providing all the goodness they need to thrive, specially prepared food should be offered in addition to milk to help little bods get the extra nutrients they need.
Is baby ready for the puree party?
The Department of Health recommends that babies should be around 6 months old for little systems to be developmentally ready to welcome solid food. Also, bub should be able to sit unsupported with good head support and the tongue-thrust reflex (as cute as it was) should be a thing of the past.
Keep milk on the menu
Solid food should complement milk feeds, not replace them. In fact, it’s recommended that milk feeds, whether breast or bottle, stay on the menu right throughout baby’s first 12 months.
Know the no-nos
For health and safety reasons, experts recommend steering clear of certain foods in baby’s first 12 months. These include honey, undercooked eggs, cow’s milk as a main drink, sweetened drinks, seafood with high mercury contents and raw fish. Also, skip the lollies and fast food, and as tempting as it is to sprinkle salt on bub’s grub, it’s best left on the shelf.
Mash, grate and dice
With no teeth and small airways, it’s critical that baby food is prepared safe way. Raising Children states that until babies are chewing well, food should not be larger than a pea.
Cook, mash or grate hard foods like raw apple and carrot and avoid whole nuts and seeds, including popcorn. Round foods are also known to be a choking risk, so ensure items like grapes and cherry tomatoes are sliced into small pieces. Food like hotdogs and sausages should have the skin removed and be cut into little portions.
Solids for each stage and how to prepare them
It may seem daunting at first but introducing solids to tiny tackers is a special and eventful chapter that involves giggles, photo-worthy moments more than a few funky poops.
Keep in mind that all bubs develop at different rates. Some cruise through the mashes and move on to finger foods in a blink, and that’s OK. Others may prefer to stick with purees for a while longer, and that’s OK too. Be patient, follow bub’s cues and enjoy the culinary adventure.
Around 6 months: Smooth food
Like really smooth. And that’s because baby has known nothing but liquid until this stage and it can take a little time to get the knack of eating.
In this first stage, iron-enriched infant cereal and pureed fruit, veggies and meat are all on the menu and it’s suggested that you start with 1-2 tablespoons and gradually increase quantities according to bub’s appetite.
While there’s no definitive rule, some mamas offer one new food at a time so that it’s easier to identify any foods that don’t agree with tiny tums.
Ideas: Iron-enriched infant cereal mixed with breastmilk or formula; pureed steamed vegetables such as sweet potato, carrot, parsnip, zucchini, cauliflower and pumpkin; pureed stewed fruit such as apple, avocado, pear and peaches.
Around 7 – 8 months: Lumpy food
Once bub is happy gobbling up purees, it’s time to mix and mash.
While smooth food helps bub get used to swallowing and exploring new flavours, lumpy food really gets the jaws moving and chewing practise underway. And no, babies don’t need teeth to make tidy work of dinner.
At this stage, you can cook up and mash lots of fresh veggies and mix in minced or shredded meat, chicken and cooked legumes for more texture and an extra hit of goodness. Lots of meals can be mashed with a fork now.
Ideas: Full-fat yoghurt, mashed ripe fruit, cooked and mashed vegetables, minced meat, well-cooked scrambled eggs.
Around 8-9 months: Finger food
If the lumpy-bumpy mashes are going down a treat, it might be time to add finger food to the menu – which means you can forget having a clean floor for, well, years.
By learning to pick up food and feed themselves, babies develop greater independence and improve their coordination. Plus, with more biting and chewing involved, they develop parts of the mouth that are important for all that speech that’s to come.
Small pieces of soft fruits or cooked veggies make fab first finger foods, think ripe strawberries, steamed carrot and a little piece of juicy melon. Sticks of toast and pieces of cooked pasta are also favourites amongst our mums.
Ideas: Sliced omelette, soft fruit, cooked vegetables, small cubes of cheese, small pieces of meat, cooked pasta, dried cereal, toast sticks.
Around 12 months: Family food
With months of messy practise and Oscar-worthy reactions to textures and tastes under the belt, munchkins are ready to tuck into healthy family food. For bub, this means experiencing loads of awesome new flavours; for Mum, it means you no longer need to prepare so many different meals every day. Hooray!
By their first birthday, little foodies could be eating, and quite likely wearing, three meals a day in addition to snacks. Go for a fab variety of dairy, meat, vegetable and grain options so that little growing bods are getting all that they need to grow like a champ.
Ideas: Pancakes, pasta dishes, stir-fries with strips of lean meat, homemade fish fingers, mini meatballs, fried rice, fish cakes, risotto, cottage pie.
100 foods to try before baby turns one
For freshly food-munching babies it’s all about variety, and setting them up with healthy eating habits for life. And whether you’re doing Baby-Led Weaning or pureeing first foods, this list of food for babies to try in their first year works perfectly.
From fruits and vegetables to treats and textures, here are 100 foods for baby to try before they turn one.
Save to phone
Simply press and hold this 100 first foods checklist image and click ‘add to photos’ to save it to your phone.
Or download, print and pop on the fridge!
The information in this article does not replace the advice of your health care provider.