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Starting Solids - best food choices by age

Feeding babie 1 1


Given the amount that is likely to go in and stay in, baby’s first foods will not provide significant nutrients. The point of introducing solids around this time is to prepare baby for new tastes, textures and modes of feeding.

  • Start with an iron-enriched infant cereal. While many of these are high glycaemic foods, infants who are just starting out find them easy to digest and swallow. Use breast milk or formula to mix into a smooth paste.
  • Cooked and pureed vegetables such as sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, choko, parsnip, broccoli, peas, potato, zucchini, cauliflower.
  • Once you have introduced a few vegetables you can start to mix them and create interesting combinations.
  • Mashed/cooked/pureed fruits such as avocado, apple, banana, pear, choko, strawberry etc. can also be introduced.  It can sometimes pay to alternate with vegetables to avoid a preference for a sweet tooth.
  • If a fruit or vegetable is too runny, use baby’s rice cereal as a thickener.
  • By six months, baby should be consuming iron-fortified baby foods such as rice cereal (as per dietary guidelines for children).  The reason for this is that by six months a baby's own body stores of iron start to run out so they become reliant on the food they eat.

The timing of food groups differs and there is no hard and fast rule.  The following is a guide only.

What foods at what age?

There are no firm rules for introducing foods. The best we can do is be guided by our baby, and our knowledge of their physical development and digestive system.  My best piece of advice is try to not compare your baby and the stage that he or she is at with other babies - each can be very different and follow their own path of development.

It is generally recommended to start with a single food.  Until recently, the advice given was to introduce each food separately, waiting for three days before introducing another new food.  However, unless there is a history of allergies or you are concerned about your baby's reactions to a certain food, there is no reason why new foods should not be introduced on consecutive days, provided you keep to foods mentioned in the below list. Watch for signs of intolerance or allergic reactions such as vomiting, diarrhoea or rashes, which don’t always show up straightaway. Most babies will not have any problems with new foods. 

Foods to Start with…

Iron fortified rice cereal – this is gluten-free and less allergenic than some other foods. 

Best first fruits
  • Apple
  • Pear
  • Banana*
  • Payaya*
Best first vegetables
  • Carrot
  • Potato
  • Swede
  • Parsnip
  • Pumpkin
  • Butternut Pumpkin
  • Sweet Potato/Kumara

* Banana and papaya do not require cooking provided they are ripe.  They can be pureed or mashed on their own or together with a little breast or formula milk.  Bananas are not suitable for freezing.

Note that, breast milk, formula or cool boiled water can be added to get the consistency right.  If you feel that your baby is not beginning to eat properly by seven months of age seek professional advice.
  • We know that babies can digest some sugars but find starches more challenging until around 9–10 months.
  • Fat can also be difficult as their livers are still developing.
  • Protein in most cases is fine, although in some it can cause certain allergies, for example cow’s milk protein allergy.
  • Some babies may find foods rich in protein (such as meat) a little difficult to digest until 8-9 months.
The World Health Organisation defines four phases in the introduction of ‘complimentary foods’, determined by baby’s motor development:

Stage one is getting baby used to eating from a spoon, using pureed foods, once or twice a day.
Stage two is becoming accustomed to texture because of improved motor skills.
Stage three is the introduction of lumpy texture and thick consistencies, and again improved motor skills by allowing finger foods.
Stage four is self-feeding and nearing family meals.


Suitable Foods


Milk Feeds

Around 6 months Note: Leaving sweeter foods such as fruit till after the introduction of vegetables can improve acceptance of foods that are not sweet.  This is however not a mandatory and many find fruits to be more palatable early on.  I recommend alternating between fruits and veges.
  • Gluten free iron-fortified cereal i.e. rice
  • Vegetables such as sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, avocado, choko, parsnip, broccoli, peas, potato, zucchini, cauliflower, beans.
  • Avocado
  • Cooked/mashed fruit such as apple, pear, banana, paw paw, rockmelon.
  • Teething rusks
Pureed into a smooth paste with breastmilk or formula Still relies primarily on breastmilk or formula.
7 ish month Working up to 3 meals a day and adding of texture:
  • Iron-enriched rice cereal should be used by 6 months.
  • Baby yoghurts or plain natural acidophilus yoghurts which are often more nutritious and have less additives
  • Increasing variety of vegetables first, then fruit (not citrus fruits or tomato), corn, beetroot, peas, capsicum, turnip, parsnip
  • Increasing variety of fruit – strawberries, mango, blueberries, watermelon, plum, star fruit and custard apples
  • Brown and white rice cooked till soft
  • Use of feeding cups over bottles
  • Offer water regularly over the day
Mashed into a soft and lumpy consistency, similar to the texture of cottage cheese 3-4 milk feeds per day
8 ish months Babies develop a swallowing reflex for coarser foods.
  • Fish
  • A teaspoon of almond, linseed, sunflower or hazelnut meal (powder) added to mashed foods for protein and essential fats
  • Thoroughly cooked brown and white rice
  • Vegetarian proteins such as tofu and lentils
  • Cheese (cheddar has low amount of lactose)
  • White meat such as fine pieces of chicken or turkey
  • Lumpy food
Introduce lumpy foods 3-4 milk feeds per day
Around 9 months Baby starts chewing and moving food around their mouth:
  • Start with gluten-free cereals such as corn, millet, rice, buckwheat, tapioca and quinoa – try buckwheat and rice noodles before pasta
  • Nut spreads (caution with allergies)
  • Expand on cheeses (cottage etc.)
  • Red meat such as lamb mince
  • Finger foods – grated cheese, vegetables fruit
  • Vegetables, thin slices, grated
  • Peeled and seeded fruit
  • Beans
  • Cereals, cous cous, semolina, tapioca, pasta, noodles etc.
Finger foods, grated cheese, finely chopped meat 3 milk feeds per day
10 months
  • Eggs (cooked egg yolk is easier to digest than egg white)
  • Well-cooked red meats
  • Small amounts of milk, soy milk, nut milk, oat milk
  • Stews, rissoles, casseroles, sandwiches, etc
Scrambled egg yolk.Finely chopped or minced meat 3 milk feeds per day
11-12 months
  • Other legumes (kidney beans, butter beans, cooked legumes, soy beans, tofu)
  • Pasteurised milk
  Weaning from breast or bottle if wished at 12 months
12 + months
  • Most foods the family eats
Whole foods except nuts Water is the best fluid

Wondering how much bubs should be eating?  See our article on this topic here.