Starting Solid Food

Starting Solid Food

Babies need solid food at around 6 months old.

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You may notice they are showing an interest in food, for example, they reach out for food. The following signs* tell you baby is ready for solid food:

They have good head and neck control and can sit upright when supported (such as in a high chair)

They can control their tongue and do not stick it out when given food

They open their mouth when offered food

Baby in high chair head uprightBaby opening mouth and not sticking tongue out when offered foodBaby opening mouth when offered food

* If your baby is nearly seven months of age and isn’t showing these signs yet, talk to your child health nurse.

Keep breastfeeding or giving infant formula when you start solid food. It is still your baby’s main food and drink.

How to start

When starting solids, introduce food in any order. For more information on textures

Ensure iron rich foods are offered first, including:

Red meat (beef, lamb), liver, chicken, fish (softly cooked then pureed, mashed )

Infant cereals
with added iron

Green leafy vegetables
for example spinach, silverbeet and broccoli (mix 
in with other foods)

Lentils and beans puree or mash into other foods

Puree meat in a dish with a spoon  Baby rice cereal in a small bowl  green spinach cooked on a white plate  Three bean mix in a bowl  

You can usually prepare baby food from your family meals. Blend, mash or cut the food into smaller pieces. Do not add salt or sugar.

Do not give babies under 12 months these foods

  • honey
  • undercooked or raw egg
  • raw milk (or other dairy made with raw milk).

The next step

Gradually vary the texture from puree to mashed, then minced and chopped foods so that your baby can manage the texture. Check out this page for more information on textures

Changing the texture will help your baby learn how to chew and bite. They do not need teeth to be able to do this.

Finger foods can be given as soon as your baby can sit up by themselves. Cut# food into smaller pieces so they are easy for your baby to pick up.

By one year most babies are usually able to manage family foods with simple modifications like cutting up.

What about food allergy

Most children do not have food allergies, but some do (food allergy needs to be diagnosed by a health care professional). Current advice to help prevent food allergy is to:

  • Introduce solids around 6 months. Do not introduce solids before 4 months.
  • Introduce high allergy foods to your baby within their first year. These are:
    • peanut (as a peanut butter),
    • cooked egg
    • dairy
    • wheat
    • fish
    • shell fish
    • sesame
    • soy
    • tree nuts (almond, cashew).

Get the help you need

Talk to your GP or child health nurse for more advice.

For more information on food allergy and family history

Visit NIP allergies in the Bub for more information on allergy prevention

#Making food safe for babies